Preparing your estate for Christmas

15/10/18

The run up to Christmas is a busy time for estates as Christmas markets are set up and skating rinks installed. These special events, and the crowds they attract, are good for business but they also pose specific insurance risks that, if ignored, could spoil the festive mood. Amanda Harman, Head of Aon Estates Practice, outlines some key things to consider.

Public events

If you are planning to hold a public event, then you must discuss it with your broker before investing too much time and money. A good standard policy should be sufficient for charity events which don’t result in any profit for the holder but, if you are putting on anything commercial, you will need specialist cover.

  • Money - most insurance policies have a cash limit of £5,000. A Christmas event, such as a market, is likely to bring in more than that, much of it in cash, so you should ask your broker to arrange an extension.
  • Parking - insurance policies state that car parks must be ‘adequately supervised’. This means that you must provide enough people to ensure that it is safe and that they understand where the cars should be parked and are suitably attired for safety, visibility and well-being. Remember to check that you have adequate Employer’s Liability Cover for any extra staff you may need to employ.

Events in your home

If you are planning to hold an event inside your house, then you must be aware of the risks that large numbers of visitors can pose both to the building and its contents. Speak to your broker about measures you should take to protect your contents and, remember, it is up to you to take adequate security measures. Move all fragile or particularly valuable items to locked rooms and/or bring in stewards to keep an eye on visitors. Only offering guided tours in small numbers will to help prevent damage to your valuable assets.

No insurance policy will cover wear and tear, so any damage caused by  visitors’ foot  wear  to the carpet for example will need to be paid for by you. Minimise the risk of damage by moving whatever you can and protecting what you can’t; for example, fitted carpets can be covered with good quality plastic matting, while buckets and drip trays should be provided for umbrellas and wet coats.

Events in the grounds

  • Skating Rinks - outdoor ice rinks have become a firm and popular fixture on the festive event calendar. The health and safety implications of running an ice rink are enormous – skating is all about slips and trips after all - so you should bring in a specialist company who will be responsible for everything. Make sure you check the company you are intending to hire has sufficient liability cover.
  • Reindeer – a guaranteed crowd pleaser, reindeer hired-in for the Christmas season do raise insurance issues. The most important of these is public health and safety; if you are allowing the public to handle reindeer (or any livestock), then you must provide hand washing facilities. You may also need increased public liability and livestock cover. Be sure the handlers are fully competent and confident or, ideally, ensure reindeers are brought in and handled by their owners under their own liability cover.
  • Markets - the owners of the stalls must have their own licences and public liability insurance, but as the owner of the land on which the stalls will be standing, it is your responsibility to check that they are valid and sufficient. You must also ensure that the area is safe to use, so check for risks such as potholes and trip hazards.
  • Food and Drink - no Christmas event is complete without some refreshments. The basic rule is that anyone selling food or drink must have food and drink cover, a food hygiene certificate and sufficient allergen labelling on all products. If you are bringing in outside caterers or stall holders then this is their responsibility, but you are responsible for checking that their liabilities are adequate.

Private property

Even if you don’t plan to open your home, winter in general and the festive season in particular, brings its own hazards.

  • Weather - the weather poses the greatest risk to property, particularly older, listed buildings. Prevention is better than cure, so ensure the fabric of your property and the surrounding grounds are well maintained.
  • Fridges and freezers – these are groaning with expensive festive supplies at this time of year, so check that you have adequate contents cover in case of breakdown.
  • Home contents - house guests and piles of presents will increase the value of your home’s contents over the Christmas period. All good insurance policies should allow for this, but it is worth checking with your broker.

Don't get caught out

Christmas is a busy period for anyone, especially if you own an estate that you are planning to open to the public. It is crucial that you take some time to have a conversation with your insurance broker about the steps you need to take to ensure you are fully protected in case the worst should happen.

For further information please call 0203 1318 152 or visit our Country House and Estates page

Whilst care has been taken in the production of this article and the information contained within it has been obtained from sources that Aon UK Limited believes to be reliable, Aon UK Limited does not warrant, represent or guarantee the accuracy, adequacy, completeness or fitness for any purpose of the article or any part of it and can accept no liability for any loss incurred in any way whatsoever by any person who may rely on it. In any case any recipient shall be entirely responsible for the use to which it puts this article. This article has been compiled using information available to us up to  15.10.18

Whilst care has been taken in the production of this article and the information contained within it has been obtained from sources that Aon UK Limited believes to be reliable, Aon UK Limited does not warrant, represent or guarantee the accuracy, adequacy, completeness or fitness for any purpose of the article or any part of it and can accept no liability for any loss incurred in any way whatsoever by any person who may rely on it. In any case any recipient shall be entirely responsible for the use to which it puts this article.

This article has been compiled using information available to us up to 15/10/18.

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