I know we’ve got financial experts here. But any insurance ones? Public liability ones?

A Remembrance Day parade has been cancelled for the first time in 50 years – because of health and safety insurance costs.
The annual march in Caerleon, near Newport, South Wales was scrapped when organisers were quoted £700 to insure the event.

That looks to me like something that can be solved by Burke’s little platoons.

Because an insurance company (or some variation of, perhaps a consortium) that offers to write such insurance on highly concessionary terms would rather clean up in terms of public image. So, anyone actually know this business? Willing to walk me through it?

19 thoughts on “I know we’ve got financial experts here. But any insurance ones? Public liability ones?”

  1. What exactly is there to insure? It’s a bunch of people walking down the street. The same as millions of people do every day in this country without insurance.

  2. I wonder if this is the same as the one a few weeks earlier. Years back Plod insists on taking care of this and tells everyone else to get out of the way and let the pros handle things. This year Plod says “can’t be arsed” ten minutes before the start and so fucks everything up?

  3. I have been asked, every year that I have been filling out the paperwork:

    Have you taken out insurance to help cover any risks arising from the procession?

    To which I have replied “No”. And the Community Council (whose parade it actually is, I merely organise it) haven’t taken out any either. And nobody (Council, Police or otherwise) tells me that I / we are required to do so.

  4. Not the bit of insurance I was in when I was in insurance, but I seem to remember that fifty years ago Eagle Star provided public liability insurance for sports events. So someone should ring up Zurich and ask them if they would provide cover for the march.
    Don’t try Municipal Mutual – they went bust covering the liabilities of careless bureaucracies.

  5. SE,

    I ran my business without liability insurance for years, after someone gave me some advice: no-one is going to sue you if there’s no money to take. If your business only has £10K sat in the bank at any time, that’s not worth lawyering up for.

  6. I assume it’s the risk of one of Dave’s mates crashing a car into the parade, which would obviously not be the fault of Dave’s mate but of the people parading and those organising it – just as people keep telling me that the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists kinda sorta deserved what happened to them.

    Round our way, people used to annually chase a cheese down a hill. That was banned last year because of the ‘risk’ of injury to the people chasing the cheese.

    If we can’t even chase a cheese down a hill in case we sprain an ankle or break and arm, we are essentially ripe for something very nasty.

  7. An insurance company that offers “highly concessionary” (aka “loss making”) rates is likely to go bust.
    Also, I don’t see why you think the price quoted is unreasonable – unless you happen to have at your finger tips twenty years’ of actuarial data.

    It strikes me as a particularly shitty little risk – low volume, administrative hassle, probably hard to rate. Now if a broker managed to put together a book of two hundred parades, then insurers might be interested. So I’d suggest the British Legion approaches brokers on behalf of all its branches. (There is, for example, a scheme for model airplane clubs, each of which would be a pain to u/write on their own. Organised by the Royal Aeronautical Society, iirc.)

  8. AndrewM,

    I do a bit of event organising myself so can answer partially. The organisers of an event are potentially liable for any injury to innocent bystanders (in my case, someone at one of my conferences drops their laptop on the toe of another guest who isn’t attending the conference). If the dropper of the laptop is conference staff we will definitely get done under some form of strict liability. Grey area if it’s just a paying delegate, but as often the case it is always easier and cheaper to pay up than argue it out in court.

    If it’s a delegate who is injured (marcher in the case of a remembrance parade) then (in the UK at least) you have to demonstrate negligence because in choosing to attend an event you accept a reasonable level of risk in doing so. Clearly in the case of a parade you’d have a tough time proving whether the injured party was there as part of the event or just hanging around.

    So insurance is a mighty fine idea if you are personally liable, or running it through a company without sufficient cash to survive a likely claim. It’s because you as the organiser are in the firing line as much as the individual responsible for the injury – and you as the organiser are easier to identify and pursue.

    I guess things like Orange parades, mafia funerals, and vibrant religious celebrations at the end of periods of fasting, are insured by the fact that any injured parties could be “persuaded” not to pursue a claim.

  9. That’s pretty much what I’m thinking about. That £500 I very much doubt is the underwriting income. There’s maybe £300 or more of sales and faffing about expenses. So, if I can get anyone at all interested, the aim is to put together a scheme that does exactly that. Remembrance Day parades and R day parades only. Here’s the standard policy at bargain basement price.

    And then, with a bit of luck and a modicum of arm twisting, maybe we can get just the one organisation to stump up the premium. Like, say, an insurance company that would like to have an in to every sodding military family in the country? Or has a CSR budget slightly unused?

    I was at school with an awful lot of people who became Lloyds brokers. Unfortunately we hated each other, me them and they me….

  10. Further to my comment above, I reckon if the British Legion got a block policy for all its branches property (ie all those clubhouses), they’d probably get liability cover for organising parades thrown in practically free.

    Also removes moral hazard, and means not everyone is rushing around to get cover in late October (can be a bad time as th entire legal profession renews on 31 October.)

  11. @Tim, the problem is you are truly fucked the minute someone does come up with a legitimate million-pound claim. The bigger (ex) military clubs will already have special insurance deals for members, and quite probably the military itself has discount insurance deals with the big insurers for current staff. because it’s a perk for the staff at zero cost to the employer.

  12. “I was at school with an awful lot of people who became Lloyds brokers. Unfortunately we hated each other, me them and they me….”

    You don’t want some public school fop as your Lloyd’s broker – a good Essex boy is what you want.

    I’ll consult my address book, but the smaller brokers who might be interested keep being taken over.

  13. Bloke in Germany,

    Thanks for the inside information.

    I still don’t see the logic of it though. If I drop my laptop on your toe while I’m on the train, or in a coffee shop, is the company liable for their injury? Who is liable if I drop my laptop on your toe in the street? The local authority? Me? And how does a court calculate the cost of the injury, since the NHS will treat your broken toe for free anyway?

    This all boils down to one question: how is a parade is any more dangerous than just walking down the street?

    One possible solution is to find the poorest person in the group and designate them as chief. As Stigler points out, nobody will sue him if he hasn’t got anything.

  14. The British must be one of the most over-insured nations on earth. It’s a racket: you are always insured until you try to make a claim.

  15. John77…do you have any idea of the ratio of your premia versus the payouts? Compared with the actuarial average? I suspect for most people, such as BIS and me, the ratio is 99:1 in favour of the insurance company.

  16. Luke is telling the truth here.

    Its a piddling little risk for someone to bother to deal with, 700 quid is hardly worth the fannying about.

    The true actuarial cost might be less than a tenner, but someone’s still got to sort it all out. In the end an insurance policy is a powerful, complicated, highly connected and very grown up piece of behaviour – and the grown ups that engage in this behaviour need to be paid even if the risk they protect from is itself very low.

    They should all club together to make it worth an expert’s time to sort out a proper policy.

  17. @ diogenes
    No, I haven’t kept track because it is largely a payment for peace of mind but on motor and household insurance it’s nothing like your number. Direct Line have handled my claims on nearly all the occasions when my car was stationary (on the other two occasions when I had a burst tyre I steered into the crash barrier) which was well worth the premium I paid them. Once, after buying a new car, I was persuaded to insure with A N Other insurer and subsequently a young woman travelling at 70 mph failed to notice a long traffic queue, at the back of which I was (fortunately with both footbrake and handbrake applied) while trying to take my sons to their schools that morning, until nearly upon us; its lawyer wanted me to sue for whiplash* and when I declined because I reckoned legal costs would exceed reasonable damages they were unco-operative – months of hassle and a payment that was a fraction of the cost of replacing my car on a like-for-like basis. Honestly the net amount I pay Direct Line is worth it.
    *I did have whiplash but #1 son got all of us out of the car (with some difficulty as the impact had bent two doors so that they wouldn’t open), and talked to the police when they arrived (after helpful guy in front had called for an ambulance for the unfortunate young woman) and I was more or less OK by the time I got home so …

  18. Well, that’s it all over for another year. No serious injuries, most of us somewhat soggy. But that’s Scotland in the late autumn for you …

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