Exhibitor’s Guide to Trade Show Insurance Coverage

A fire starts because of a faulty cord. Someone falls over on an item that dropped from your booth. An actual flood! There are so many scenarios where you could find yourself in need of trade show insurance.  And while it’s unlikely you will need it, having the proper coverage in place when disaster strikes can bring you peace of mind during the chaos.

Types of Insurance Coverage

While exhibition planners do their educated best to foresee potential issues and mitigate risks, the unexpected MUST be expected to rear its havoc-raising head from time to time.

To protect against trade show disasters and worst case scenarios, insurance professionals recommend that exhibitors carry a minimum of four types of insurance:

Commercial general liability covers bodily or property damage incurred during display setup, tear-down and during the show itself. Some venues or show organizers offer this type of insurance, but whether they do or do not, you’ll need to have it and be able to provide proof, should it be asked of you. If you work for a corporation, your employer would be the policy holder. If they do not carry commercial general liability, you can purchase it yourself for anywhere from $125 to $1,000 per event.

Exhibit property coverage is self-evident … it covers your physical exhibit. Do some research to find out exactly what your existing policy covers. Are you fully covered under a corporate umbrella policy? What are your limits and deductibles? Does the existing coverage leave you in the clear after payout or will you be in the red? Ask those questions of your company and their insurer up front so you’re not left blind-sided if, or when, an accident happens.

Limited liability valuation is provided by your transport company. This element of trade show coverage covers your exhibit property in the transport vehicle from point A, where it’s loaded, to point B, the trade show venue. Once it’s off the truck, the limited liability valuation is no longer in effect.

Event cancellation insurance takes care of your expenditures should the show be cancelled for a variety of reasons. Labor disputes, venue damage, natural disasters … you have spent a pretty penny leading up to the event and won’t want to leave those expenditures dangling in the breeze should some disastrous circumstance arise.

Carrying these four types of insurance should put you in a position to handle pretty much any accident or emergency. However, it’s also important to check with show management prior to each event to find out their minimum exhibitor insurance requirements and ensure that you’re in full compliance.

When Disaster Strikes

Should your exhibit become damaged — either on the show floor or during shipping — no worries. Most exhibit houses offer repair and refurbishment services. If there’s no time for repairs, your exhibit house will likely recommend that you rent temporary replacement pieces until your original display can be fixed.

Single-Event versus Annual Policy Coverage: Which to Choose?

If you’re an event hopper and regularly find yourself manning the floor of trade shows, you’ll want an annual policy. If you’re exhibiting one or two times per year, single-event coverage can meet your needs for a reasonable price. For those of you in between, compare rates. Sometimes the annual will prove more cost effective.

Exclusions and Restrictions on Types of Booth Activities

Each and every insurance company can select certain booth activities that they deem too risky and therefore excluded for coverage under a general liability policy. You won’t have to guess … your provider can tell you definitively.

Some common examples may include: 

  • Alcoholic beverage sales
  • Animals
  • Body piercing or permanent tattooing
  • Fire safety equipment
  • Fireworks sales and displays
  • Hot wax impressions
  • Medical testing
  • Motorsports activities/vehicles in motion
  • Nutritional or health supplement products (selling)
  • On-site equipment rental
  • On-site installation/service/repair of products
  • Oxygen/aromatherapy or massage therapy
  • Protective equipment/apparel
  • Tobacco products
  • Toys (for ages 4 & under)
  • Watercraft exhibits on water
  • Weapons sales
  • Weight loss plans or products (selling)

In addition to activities not covered by your insurance, every show venue has its own list of prohibited exhibitor activities which would also negate your insurance if you engage in them while onsite. See, for example, the Las Vegas Convention Center Building Users Manual which addresses pretty much every type of exhibitor activity, from serving food to displaying balloons … or even flying drones.

When in Doubt, Talk with Your Agent

There are a wide variety of events that necessitate coverage, so talk to your insurance agent. Find out more about what’s available to you and which types of exhibitor insurance make sense for your business. Depending on your particular business and intended booth activities, you may need to purchase additional coverage or update your policies.

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