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All Insurance Is Expensive Until You Need it!

Among many of our client companies we’ve noticed a gap in a logistical area of responsibility dealing with “who checks on insurance coverage for your exhibit assets?”   Marketing folks are brand focused; Trade Show Managers are show focused; Designers are aesthetically focused; Accounting is processing approved invoices or reviewing terms; Sales Managers are lead generation focused and Senior Managers or owners are looking for ROI.

We tell all of our customers that the infamous Murphy of “Murphy’s Law” runs the trade show industry.  Essentially Murphy’s Law says that if something can go wrong it will!  A good exhibit house partner will mitigate Murphy’s Law through good design, packaging, and logistics management.  But, your assets won’t always be in their control.

Displays and accessory items are handled by numerous strangers without any emotional attachment to, or professional investment in, your branding materials (booth, product samples, A/V equipment, handouts). These may include shippers, transfer station warehouse workers, loading dock personnel, installation & dismantle labor, multiple union workers, and other subcontractors to a trade show’s General Contractor.

Three of the biggest topical concerns for exhibitors include; lack of proper performance during the event, damage, and theft.  For a better understanding of responsibilities when Murphy gets a hold of your exhibit, look at:

Freight Liability – Some minor level of insurance coverage is implicit in most freight contracts.  However, the maximum sum they will pay is usually a paltry amount compared to the replacement value of what gets stolen or damaged.  Most freight companies will offer the opportunity to purchase extra insurance.  Third party firms also offer one-time shipping insurance.  Based on the level of your company’s umbrella insurance policy and its deductible, these extra insurance costs may not be unnecessary.

Empties/Material Handling – Obviously show contractors that handle hundreds of thousands of pieces of exhibitry ranging from the size of an envelope to items that are almost city-blocks long need to protect themselves against liability for damage.  Storing anything of value in empty crates during a show is an opportunity for damage that is usually not covered by the contractors.  Be sure to understand the tight time limits to file a claim against any contractor for material handling.

Asset Management Agreements –Terminology such as ‘acts of God’ might be non-negotiable; but basics such as being protected against fire, flooding, mold, should be the responsibility of the Exhibit House. Look for any other stated exclusions and expect that the Exhibit House will not be responsible for your items when they are not in the Exhibit House’s control.

I & D Contracts – Most contracts will limit an I&D firm’s liability to the cost of the charge for services provided.  However, that may not suffice if there is a chain reaction (the improperly installed brackets hanging the “thingy” cause it to fall onto the one-of-a-kind sample.)

Corporate Insurance Policies – Find the person in your company who coordinates with your organization’s business insurance provider.  Seek their input, advice, and confirmation that your display and related assets are covered by the corporate “umbrella” policy.  If not, they should be!  Or, do you need a special insurance rider?  In this way, when the small print in the boilerplate of the service providers let you down, you’re covered in the event of a major loss.

With insurance, as with everything else, it is best to ask questions ahead of time and to be prepared just in case you need it.

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Trade Show Planning Timeline (PDF)

Download this all-in-one trade show planning timeline to keep track of your trade show deadlines. Our timeline includes exhibit design & build tasks, technology considerations, pre-show promotions, booth staff tasks, lead management and miscellaneous items. Also included is; budget planning information, a booth staff schedule, typical show services deadline list and a budget calculator perfect for trade show veterans and those newer to the industry.

About the Author

Steve Hoffman, President of Skyline Exhibits & Design, Inc. has spent almost 30 years in the selling and marketing of marketing products. Following a successful career in the TV Program Syndication business, he joined The Holt Group/Skyline Displays as a Marketing Consultant, then moved into management, ultimately purchasing a portion of that company. He is the author of "The Reality of B.S. (Big Sales...That Is)." Steve is dedicated to helping his South Carolina trade show displays clients achieve their worldwide exhibit marketing goals while improving their efficiencies, too.

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