Buying insurance need not be unclear

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Editorial: Sept. 3, 2014

ISSUE: Acquiring insurance for community events
OUR VIEW: Work out this issue before next concert

If you are reading this, you never have collected on your life insurance.

You pay month after month, year after year. But there are no proceeds or benefits until you die. We buy life insurance for the protection of others. In addition to paying for burial and funeral costs, it can erase some debts and even provide a measure of financial security for your family.

But it is an expense with no end in your lifetime. Some will gamble against arriving at death’s door. Every day, some people lose that bet.

So how about placing a bet against rain? Afterall, it rains often and you only will die once.

Many event planners do purchase insurance against disruptions to outdoor activities. A quick search online finds it is available for everything from weddings and bar mitzvahs to softball tournaments and dog shows.

It’s even available for outdoor concerts. And today that is a dilemma for second-guessers in Elizabethtown.

The Olivia Henken-Joe Diffie concert, the capstone of this summer’s Heartland Festival in the Park, was a wash out. The storm clouds arrived just as the opening act was scheduled to go on. The rainfall was unrelenting and powerful, eventually causing the concert and fireworks show to be canceled.

While the fireworks will be rescheduled for December, the concert will not. And the performers and their bands still have to be paid.

The city of Elizabethtown stages the Heartland Festival and it turns out no event insurance was purchased.

City Councilman Kenny Lewis, who coordinated previous community concerts, thinks that was a mistake.

“Anytime you do an outdoor venue, the first thing you have to do is get insurance,” Lewis said.

Charlie Bryant, the city’s executive assistant, who says he made the decision to forgo insurance, defends his stance.

“The risk was very small,” he said. “In this case, we got caught in an extreme situation. In August, you don’t expect the type of rain we had.”

Rain insurance is no simple matter. Examining multiple website offers, the coverage cost depends of the reliability of your Farmers’ Almanac or favorite TV meteorologist. Most policies require you to indicate how much rain you want to be covered against.

To receive the benefit, most also will turn to the nearest National Weather Service reporting station for verification. It’s more than 40 miles from Freeman Lake to the NWS station at the Louisville International Airport. The amount of rain in those two locations can vary greatly.

Lewis is right to challenge the decision. This is taxpayer money that got washed away.

But it also is taxpayer money that disappears if event insurance is purchased and no disruption occurs or Mother Nature sends one-tenth of an inch less rain than the insurance covers.

The past cannot be fixed. But if the Elizabethtown — or any other governmental entity — continues to invest energy, wages and other dollars to stage community concerts, elected officials and municipal leadership need to get on the same page about how much risk to accept.

This editorial represents a consensus of The News-Enterprise editorial board.