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UK government’s COVID insurance scheme paid out on just one cancelled event

By | Published on Tuesday 25 April 2023


The COVID insurance scheme backed by the UK government that was designed to help get the live industry back up and running as coronavirus restrictions started to relax in late 2021 paid out on just one claim of £180,500, it has been revealed. Meanwhile, it generated almost £6 million in premiums.

The scheme was set up in September 2021 and ran for a year. It was designed to overcome the problem that festival and concert promoters, at that time, couldn’t get cancellation insurance for their events due to the ongoing uncertainties caused by the pandemic and new variants of COVID-19, which meant there was a real risk that new restrictions could come into force stopping those events from going ahead.

But without such insurance available on the commercial market, live music companies already struggling because of the COVID shutdowns of 2020 and 2021 couldn’t afford to take the risk themselves, ie to pump money into future uninsured events that might end up not happening.

The special cancellation insurance scheme involved a number of insurers with the UK government stepping in as ‘reinsurer of last resort’. The concept was welcomed by the music industry, although the specifics were criticised, with some arguing that its focus and the actual coverage available were too narrow to benefit the wider music community.

Stats relating to the scheme were made public following a freedom of information request by the Financial Times. The scheme covered 169 events, collecting £5.9 million in premiums. The single payout was to the promoter of an event called Trick Scotland which was cancelled after the Scottish government extended its vaccination campaign at Edinburgh’s Royal Highland Centre where that event was due to take place.

No information was provided regarding how many unsuccessful claims were made against the insurance scheme.