Before You Cancel That Meeting ...

By: Bryan Ochalla

Expert advice on meeting cancellation for the next time you consider calling off an event.

This has been a jumpy year for meeting planners—beset with boycotts, floods, hurricanes, and volcanoes. But before any planner cancels or cuts short a conference, we can hope they make a few phone calls—to their claims adjuster and insurance broker, in particular. Those are the first steps Amy Doherty of Aon Association Services and Lou Novick of Novick Group, Inc., suggest.

If you fail to follow that piece of advice, "you run the very real risk that your carrier will deny the coverage," Novick says, adding, "You want to make that kind of decision with as much understanding of what [your carrier's] expectations of coverage may be as possible."

In addition, your carrier is likely going to want to look at what steps could be taken to mitigate the loss. "You want to know if that's their thinking while you still have time to take whatever steps they have in mind. Otherwise, you're left to defend why you didn't take those steps—and you never want to be in that kind of defensive position," says Novick.

Doherty, Aon Association Services' senior vice president, and Eileen Hoffman, the company's assistant vice president, suggest a few other steps you can take to avoid invalidating your meeting coverage: Make no commitments to refund exhibitor or registrant fees before discussions with the insurance broker and claim adjuster.

Also, keep comprehensive records, including applicable contracts, current financial records for the event, and any emails, faxes, phone calls, and print or online media reports related to the need to cancel or curtail the event.

"The named insured always has the burden of proof," Hoffman says. "You need comprehensive information to back up your claim if the event has to be rescheduled or cancelled."

Bryan Ochalla is a freelance writer based in Seattle. Email: [email protected]

Free Webinar

Want to learn more about meetings cancellation? A free webinar, "Claim It: Facing the Event Cancellation Insurance Claims Process," is available from ASAE Business Services.