Trade Show Insurance: Cost, Coverage & Providers



Trade show insurance is a specialized liability policy for exhibitors during a trade show or expo. Trade show producers expect to be named insureds on policies that typically have a minimum of $1 million in liability protection. Single event costs start at $150, but businesses that participate in many shows every year may save with an annual policy and costs start at $300.

Trade show insurance is typically a short-term policy or an add-on to an existing business general liability policy. When purchasing a trade show insurance policy covering multiple events over the course of the year, make sure you can obtain certificates of insurance quickly. An insurance broker like Insurance321 allows you to easily get what you need when you need it within minutes online.

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Who Trade Show Insurance Is Right For

Trade show insurance is required for anyone setting up a table or booth at a craft fair, community event, street fair, trade show, or expo. Event organizers will not allow a vendor to set up without proof of liability insurance provided to them. The size of the event isn’t what drives the need for trade show insurance—it is the exposure to potential claims outside of a company’s normal business.

There are three types of businesses that need trade show insurance:

  • Exhibitors: set up booths at the show to represent outside business products and services. A company promoting electrical stimulation devices at a chiropractor’s convention is an example of an exhibitor.
  • Vendors: are an extension of the trade show, providing services to make the event run smoothly. A common example is a food vendor working at the event’s concession stand.
  • Trade show organizers: run the trade show and are the overall responsible party that requires exhibitors and vendors to provide insurance documentation.

While many insurance companies will use the terms vendor and exhibitor for the same policies, there are some significant differences. A vendor is selling items or is hired by the trade show to perform a specific duty. The exhibitor is literally exhibiting or displaying his wares and a promotion of his products and services. Some trade shows and expos don’t allow exhibitors to actually transact business, while others do.

This blurs the line between a vendor and an exhibitor. If you are participating in a trade show, expo, or community fair of any sort, expect to obtain general liability insurance to protect you, your staff, and the event coordinators from liability claims against your company. If you are actually selling items, discuss product liability insurance to have the right protection.

Exhibitor Insurance Providers

Most major insurance carriers don’t offer standalone policies for trade shows, expos, and fairs. You will need to have an annual business policy that covers general liability, business property, or both to obtain a certificate of insurance. Specialty providers offer policies that cover a single event or a combination of events.

Top Trade Show & Exhibitor Providers

Provider Best for
ProductionInsurance Limited duration policies that aren’t needed for an entire year.
AP Intego Policies that cover both regular business operations and participation in trade shows.
K&K Insurance Mobile businesses that travel work exclusively in trade shows and expos.
Insurance321 Exhibitors who need both event liability and product liability coverage.
ExhibitorInsurance Event coordinators who need complete venue and risk coverage.

ProductionInsurance

ProductionInsurance is a specialty insurance broker focusing on business events including film and television productions, vendors and exhibitors, and foreign events. Insurance policies are underwritten through Supple-Merril & Driscoll with top-rated carriers. Their online application provides quotes within minutes and the ability to get instant coverage for last-minute event coverage.

AP Intego

Shop for rates with major carriers with one application. AP Intego offers trade show coverage with The Hartford, Travelers, and Guardian insurance carriers. Use AP Intego to get through one policy application for coverage either for an annual business policy or a certificate of insurance (COI) for the event. The online portal makes it easy to get the right documents and COI the event needs.

K&K Insurance

K&K Insurance provides coverage for industries and events that more conservative insurance carriers don’t write. K&K Insurance can write a standalone policy for one day, for a series of events, and for trade shows throughout the year. Prices range from $150 for a day of coverage up to $2,400 for annual trade show policies.

Insurance321

Find the right policy quickly and easily with a few minutes online. Insurance321 works with the best commercial insurance providers and will find the right policy for the best price in the state that you will be doing the event in. If you aren’t sure exactly what you need, Insurance321 will navigate the carriers on your behalf.

ExhibitorInsurance

ExhibitorInsurance is a specialty provider that works with carriers and events in North America. Find the right coverage with the confidence that no gaps exist between the event and your booth. ExhibitorInsurance covers both the exhibitors and the event coordinators.

Exhibitor Insurance Costs

Exhibitor insurance costs include the policy premium plus and costs for certificates of insurance (COIs) as required for the event producers. Policy premiums for exhibitors could be exclusively for the event or for the entire year with additional COIs. Expect to pay at least $150 for a policy with $25 per COI.

Expect costs to vary depending on the general liability requirements of the event:

  • General business liability policy: An existing policy for all business use that may already include product loss and liability. Costs start at $300 annually depending on your state and industry.
  • Standalone event policy: A policy that covers your business pursuits for the day(s) of the event. Generally does not include product loss either at the event or in transition. Costs start at $150 for one day.
  • Certificate of insurance: A COI is the form the event requires as proof of insurance coverage. It lists the business and the event. An existing business policy may charge $25 to process a COI for every trade show you do.

There are two ways to obtain exhibitor insurance for a trade show. The first is to have an existing business insurance policy with liability coverage and obtain a certificate of insurance (COI) for the additional insured. The second is to obtain coverage specifically for the event as a standalone event policy.

Event insurance, including policies for trade show exhibitors, is primarily concerned with protecting the event organizers. These are basic policies that don’t cover your personal products, supplies, or event equipment. To get your personal business property and inventory insured, consider an inland marine policy or expanding your business property insurance policy if you have concerns about covering your own business property.

How Trade Show Insurance Works

There are two different sides to trade show insurance: the trade show organizer’s needs and the event exhibitor’s needs. Both parties need policies structured in different ways. Trade show organizers obtain master policies for the entire event and require all exhibitors and vendors to have their own respective policies. Vendors and exhibitors’ policies name the event organizers as named insured.

By doing this, the exhibitor assumes all risks for his own business operations at the event, and the event organizer reduces his by transferring risk and dispersing it among all event exhibitors. Even food trucks coming to the location will need to make sure existing food truck insurance policies name the venue on a COI.

Vendors vs Exhibitors Trade Show Insurance Needs

Trade shows have both exhibitors and vendors, both requiring insurance. Exhibitors buy a booth during the event to sell or promote a product or service. Vendors are generally independent contractors who serve food, run electrical, or set up booth tables, dividers, and stages. As a business owner, getting a certificate of insurance as an exhibitor is critical—you won’t be allowed to enter the event and set up without it.

A trade show insurance standalone policy or add-on coverage protects you and the event holders against general liability. Typical types of policies protect you if an event attendee trips on something in your booth and gets hurt, or if your display falls over and damages the products in the booth next to you.

Trade Show Insurance Coverage Features

Trade show insurance covers the slip and fall accidents that can happen to any business operating anywhere. A trade show tends to have higher risks because of the temporary booths, tables, and displays with a massive amount of people coming through. There are key coverage features and many things that are excluded from coverage.

Trade Show Insurance Risk Coverage

Trade show insurance covers many typical business endeavors. The policy is designed to cover general liability, personal and advertising injury, premises rented to you, and medical expenses to those other than event participants.

Multiple components of trade show insurance policies may come into play during a claim:

  • General liability covers accidents such as a trip and fall or your display falls down, injuring or damaging someone or something.
  • Personal and advertising injury cover incidents of libel, slander, copyright, trademark infringement, or an invasion of privacy.
  • Premises rented to you cover the event that is renting you space in the potential scenario where your participation in the event leads to facility damage, such as an electrical cord starting a fire.
  • Medical expenses cover the costs of injury to cover a gap in health insurance but might not lead to a formal liability claim. Medical payments often cap at $5,000 per occurrence.

Policies cover each occurrence and have an aggregate limit. This means a policy written as $1 million/$2 million will cover each claim occurrence to a maximum of $1 million and will only pay up to $2 million for multiple occurrences at the same event or during the same policy period.

For example, if an elderly woman trips and falls over your extension cord in your booth and ends up breaking her hip, leading to complications totaling expenses of $1.1 million, your policy will cover the $1 million and the party can sue the business for the remaining $100,000. If there was a second injury claim, the policy would still have another $1 million in aggregate coverage.

Trade Show Insurance Ineligible Risk

Certain types of business endeavors are not covered by traditional trade show insurance policies. Coverage has a direct correlation to higher levels of risk for these business pursuits with higher incidents of claims and potential loss.

Ineligible risks include:

  • Fireworks sales and displays
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Medical procedures
  • Tattoos and piercing
  • Weapons sales
  • Nutritional supplements sales
  • Booths with animals
  • Repair services
  • Weight loss product sales

If you are setting up a booth that falls into an excluded business category, speak with an insurance agent regarding the best way to insure your company and get the required coverage for the event. You may need more comprehensive coverage that extends beyond the event.

Tips When Purchasing Exhibitor Insurance

If you are seeking insurance for a trade show, consider these tips to make the process easier and be certain that you have coverage for all potential risks. Your risk is not always directly related to the type of business you have.

Obtain All Trade Show Details

Ask the trade show coordinator for a sample certificate of insurance (COI). This sample will not only confirm the general liability coverage amounts required by the event, but it will describe exactly how the COI needs to list the additional insured. Often the additional insured is the company coordinating the event plus the facility. Include setup and breakdown days.

Consider an Annual Policy Instead

Don’t assume that a one-day policy is cheaper in the long run. If you do regular events or conduct business in other ways, an insurance policy will cover you throughout the year for all business pursuits. It is often less expensive to have a general liability policy than to put together three or four event policies throughout the year.

Plan Your Booth Activities Prior to Obtaining Insurance

Make sure you know how your booth will be set up and what you will do. A raffle wheel compared to a dunk tank is a completely different risk category. You might find the dunk tank excludes liability coverage.

Trade Show Insurance Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Trade shows and expos are great ways to promote your company, but they create high risk exposure. If you still have questions about the right type of coverage after reviewing this article, go to our forum to ask a specific question or drop a comment below.

Why do you need a certificate of insurance?

You need a certificate of insurance (COI) to let a third party know that you have adequate liability coverage and have released the third party from liability to your actions. It is provided by your insurance carrier and is considered an official document of coverage. Most carriers charge a fee of $25 for each COI required.

Is special event insurance the same as trade show insurance?

Trade show insurance is a form of commercial special event insurance. Not all special event insurance is for business use. Many homeowners obtain special event insurance for major parties or for events such as weddings or retirement parties held at third-party locations.

What insurance documents will a trade show ask for?

If a third-party trade show host is asking for insurance documents, he is asking for the certificate of insurance (COI), not the insurance policy. The insurance policy doesn’t automatically include coverage for third parties. Every COI is custom made to name a third party and list the coverage dates and locations.

Bottom Line

Trade show exhibitor insurance is very easy to obtain if you already have a properly underwritten business insurance policy. Contact your existing carrier to get a certificate of insurance. If you are only doing business at a few events, look for a standalone exhibitor insurance policy to cover activities during the trade show or expo.

Major carriers may not offer standalone policies but do have the resources to advise every business owner on smaller specialty firms. Insurance321 helps businesses evaluate the overall business operations risk, whether at the event or extending beyond, and can tell you the most cost-effective way to obtain trade show insurance.

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