Size matters. The size of your business (one-person show or many employees?), the width of your services (planning, producing, or supplying?), and the breadth of where those services are performed (in one city, once country, or internationally?) ALL matter when it comes to what business insurance one should have and why you need it. The significance of business insurance was the pressing topic of concern for the September 28 CommuniTEA zoom discussion hosted by Meeting Professionals International’s (MPI) Independent and Small Business Owners (ISBO).

The socially engaging casual chat typically begins with brief introductions of each person before splitting into limited-size breakout rooms, allowing for more intimate conversation on the month’s topic before reassembling to discuss what was learned. The beauty of each monthly MPI ISBO CommuniTEA topic is no one person has all the answers, but with so many types of businesses represented, someone else may have the solution to your question. This time, Business Insurance expert Robert Hippert, Senior Consultant CPCU for Henderson Brothers, Inc, introduced the topic by stressing that first you must understand what your risks are before determining what coverage is needed to protect your interests.

What became apparent is that business insurance is not a one-size-fits-all subject.

Should a small and independent business owner carry Key Man insurance (apologies to women owners, but that is how the insurance is titled). Yes, if the company is in transition to a new leader or if the owner is replaceable and unable to fulfill leadership obligations. Hippert noted that with the rise of COVID cases, requests for Key Man insurance have increased.

How do I know if I’m covered for cyber security in my current plan? Am I covered for email hacks? Hippert’s reply: “You will likely need a separate policy.”

A global meeting planner asked if his insurance covers him when working internationally. “What is the minimum dollar and coverage I need?” The answer is that it depends on which country you are based in, although several of the meeting planners on the call agreed that at minimum, one needs a million-dollar liability policy. If a planner rents venue space, higher limits would likely be required by the property. One of the other planners on the call said when she worked for a large company, requirements were at least a million dollars in liability and another million for errors and omissions.

And here’s the however no one really wants to hear. The planners who work internationally acknowledged there are few companies providing insurance specific to their needs. The global planner in Ireland said he knew of only one in the entire country. It was suggested that your Financial Advisor or CPA might be able to suggest what insurance would best cover your business. After this session, participants may be better at knowing which questions to ask.

COVID’s impact on the hospitality, meetings and events industries crept into the discussion because of the new challenges it has wrought. One planner asked, “If an attendee has to quarantine onsite for 12 days, are food costs and lodging covered under any plans?” Hippert replied, “No longer. In the beginning of the pandemic, these stays were usually covered by the host. Now you need to have it in your contract on who is responsible. Typically, it becomes the individual’s cost.”

What if someone is injured at your event, such as taking a bad fall? Who’s responsible and can possibly be sued: the planner, the company, the venue? Hippert said that’s a decision that must be spelled out in the contract. He said planners should avoid being the one to sign off on the contract. “Preferably, the client signs.”

And what about open bars at events? Who’s responsible for someone overindulging? Is there an alcohol liability insurance policy? Yes, there is such a policy, but it was strongly suggested that to provide protection in the United States, you must have a licensed bartender working the event.

When the breakout groups returned to one large group, the question was asked, “What did you learn today that was beneficial?”

Overwhelmingly, the responses concerned auto insurance for cars not owned by the individual, such as bus or car transportation hired by the planner or the client. A business strategist suggested using the same insurer for both General Liability and Professional Liability insurance.

Allianz Insurance was suggested by a couple of planners for trip insurance or global event planning insurance. One said she has Allianz trip insurance for herself. “It costs me $280 per year. Under trip interruption, I am covered up to $3000 for hotel and food if I must quarantine. I think it is $250 per day until I reach $3000.” Another planner said she’s been researching using Allianz for both herself and for groups. “It might be something to work into conversations with clients.”

Non-owned car insurance was not the only reason others found the conversation enlightening. One San Diego State University grad student cited that she’s working on a capstone program and has to create a business plan for a third party meeting planning company. “This topic really appeals to me,” she said.

A new small and independently owned business owner said, “All of this is new information for me. One of the planners recommended a broker and that I should have a clear list of services being provided to be sure the broker connects me with the right insurance agent.  Very helpful for a newbie!”

Robert Hippert has generously said he would respond to any questions. Please contact him at

Monthly MPI ISBO CommuniTEA zoom calls have moved to a Thursday. The next one is October 21 for Technology for Running Your Small Business.

Here’s the link to register.

Karen Kuzsel is a writer-editor based in the Orlando area who specializes in the hospitality, entertainment, meetings & events industries.  She is an active member of International Live Events Association and Meeting Professionals International and is now serving on the 2021-2022 MPI Global Advisory Board for Independent and Small Business Owners. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists. Karen writes about food & wine, spas, destinations, venues, meetings & events. A career journalist, she has owned magazines, written for newspapers, trade publications, radio and TV. As her alter-ego, Natasha, The Psychic Lady, she is a featured entertainer for corporate and social events.;;; @karenkuzsel; @thepsychiclady.