Festivals ready to go but getting insurance is no easy task, organizers say

The entertainment is booked, tickets are sold, Dauphin’s Countryfest is all set – but getting insurance was no easy task.

Rob Waloschuk, the general manger of the festival, said being insured this year has been an uphill battle.

“It's been the last few months that we’ve been really starting to maybe panic a little bit about it,” He said.

Waloschuk said when the festival went to renew its insurance this year, there was a problem. He said the insurance company was not interested and finding other providers was not easy.

“For some strange reason, insurance companies have chosen to, I don’t want to say pick on festivals, but I think that’s maybe what’s going on,” said Waloschuk.

He said this isn’t a Countryfest problem only. He’s spoken to similar organizers in Manitoba and across the country and has heard insurance companies are shying away from festivals. Offering camping as part of the experience might have something to do with it.

“If you had a festival that didn’t have camping, it didn’t seem to be a problem,” said Waloschuk. “We also run another festival in Thunder Bay, Ontario, that doesn’t have camping and that was a no brainer – it got done.”

Outdoor festivals and campers are at the mercy of Mother Nature.

Anne Marie Smith from the Insurance Bureau of Canada said weather events in recent years have driven up claims payouts for the commercial insurance industry. She said that, in part, has companies reconsidering the types of risks they are willing to take on, reducing supply.

“Said another way, a reduction in the amount of risk that an insurer can reasonably take on, while keeping in mind the obligations that they have to their existing policy holders," Smith said.

Canada’s National Ukrainian Festival in Dauphin had its insurance coverage confirmed Friday. Organizers say their premiums have tripled in price.

In the end, Countryfest found a willing insurance partner in Alberta. But to seal the deal organizers had to pay double what their premiums normally cost.

“It’s not something we can really pass on at this stage of the game,” said Waloschuk. “Our tickets are sold, the event is happening and this bill shows up, and it’s just something we’re going to have to live with.”