In this chapter of our Annual Insurance Review 2023. we look at the main developments in 2022 and expected issues in 2023 for contingency.

Key developments in 2022

2022 should have been a return to normal on the events front. The removal of COVID restrictions heralded a hope for a return to "business as usual" as eager festival goers dusted off their wellington boots and threw away their masks. With pubs, restaurants and theatres once more filled to capacity, 2022 appeared to be shaping up to be a year of celebration following the restrictions of the past 2 years. The May Jubilee celebrations brought crowds to London and the expectation of street parties throughout the country. Although later in the year some events were cancelled out of respect following the death of Her Majesty Elizabeth II, cancellations due to COVID seemed to be a thing of the past. Although our 2021 chapter we considered whether vaccine passports may continue to be a requirement for large events, this has not proved to be the case.

The effects of COVID have however lingered. The summer saw a number of festivals cancelled due to the financial hangover of the pandemic. Many smaller events beseeched patrons to roll their tickets to next year rather than seek a refund, as the cost of ticket refunds would likely sink the organisers. Some have aimed criticism at the insurance industry, indicating that the lack of support following COVID has made smaller festivals untenable. The removal of restrictions may make it more difficult to resolve any insurance issues. Although nobody seeks a return to COVID swabs and masks, insurers may have been more prepared to provide cover for COVID-related cancellations to an event that had safeguards in place. Now that those restrictions would not be accepted by patrons, the issue may be trickier to resolve.

Lack of insurance however may be one of several reasons for event cancellations, with festivals also citing the current economic conditions, spiralling staging costs and the squeeze on household disposable income as reasons for short notice cancellations.

What to look out for in 2023

Before COVID, our predictions for disruption in the events world focussed on the increasing weather extremes being seen across the globe. The UK has this year experienced both searing summer temperatures and monsoon-like rainfall, leading to flooding as the torrents of water failed to soak into the dry terrain. Storms have battered the landscape and the early December Arctic snap saw temperatures plummet. The days where events could rely on some predictability at certain times of year may be in the past. It may therefore be that after the intervention of COVID the events cancellation market's focus returns to the weather, although the ongoing cost-of-living crisis may also play a part in curtailing the availability of events. It remains to be seen whether it is smaller and more local events, or the grandstanding large national events, which better weather these collective storms.

Written by Naomi Vary.

Download our full Annual Insurance Review 2023 for more insights.