Fireworks insurance should be considered essential if you are putting on a public display. Not surprisingly in today’s claim-mad society this can be at best hard to find and at worst, very expensive. Take a deep breath before tackling this article!
Fireworks insurance – an important note
In the great scheme of things fireworks are a potentially hazardous product to use. For this reason fireworks insurance is a very fluid area with policies, prices and cover changing on a regular basis. It is highly likely that even a day after publication of this article the situation may have changed, so this should be taken as a guide only.
If you are employing a professional team you will not need to worry about fireworks insurance as this will be taken care of by the company doing the fireworks. You can read more about this in the Buying Fireworks guide (scroll down to the professional fireworks part). Obviously you may still need some level of insurance for other aspects of your event.
Getting your fireworks insurance
At the time of writing insurance for public displays using consumer fireworks is covered either on a per event basis by an insurance company or by existing policies for the organisation putting on the display.
Looking at the per event insurance first. Here you will need to know the likely attendance for the event as policies are often priced according to this. When UKFR started, per event insurance was in the region of £30-£100 depending on the event size. These days it is not uncommon to hear of premiums costing £100-£500. This is one of the main reasons so many community displays have had to stop. Do shop around and do speak to your fireworks retailer or supplier for recommendations. You may need to undertake fireworks training and also do a risk assessment before you can be covered.
Many organisations are either already covered or have policies in place which can help for a much smaller premium. Examples of organisations UKFR has come across who have indicated they have existing insurance cover for fireworks include the Scouts, Guides and Church of England. So if you are a member of an organisation do get in touch with their head office to check this.
Further information about fireworks insurance
UKFR welcomed a new advertiser in September 2012 who specialise in providing insurance for public fireworks displays where the operators are nonprofessional and use category 3 fireworks. You can read their article here: Fireworks Insurance Article.
The subject of insurance was raised in the UKFR Fireworks Forum in April 2011 to see if members had any information that would be of use for this article.
UKFR member ChrisKoF states in a reply: “It is worth noting that firework displays organised by Parent/Teacher Associations in schools are able to obtain cover through the National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations (NCPTA). Provided a strict code of practice for firework displays is followed, membership of NCPTA provides £10million of public liability cover for your school display. Membership of NCPTA starts from around £40 so if there are parents looking at this who are considering a display for their school then it may be a good place to start. More details can be found here: http://www.ncpta.org.uk/s/informatio…rework_events/“.
He also added: “Rotary Club members also have cover while undertaking events under the Rotary Club umbrella. According to their Health & Safety (H&S) manual: “All Rotary clubs and Rotarians have fireworks insurance cover while engaged in or taking part in Rotary activities. Cover includes legal liability, employer’s liability, public liability, legal expenses, slander, libel and specific club property. There are conditions that must be met such as the requirement for risk assessments to be carried out”. A link to the H&S document is here. Within the document there is a link to further insurance details. Firework events run by Rotary Clubs is covered in the H&S document.”
ChrisH: “Yes, the Scout Association does insure us for firework displays. We organise the village one each year and are covered without having to pay any extras. I’ve no idea what level of insurance cover we have as I leave all that to our Treasurer. I know she does ring National HQ each year to confirm everything is still covered.”
Quasar: “When I did a display for a couple of churches last November for GFN, using Category 2 & 3, I got myself insured for a single event. It cost me £168 to cover myself and two other people helping. We had a crowd of about 200 people. Obviously we had to do a fireworks risk assessment and make sure there were adequate marshalls for the crowd and to cover first aid. There was a bonfire too, and although it wasn’t my responsibility and it had its own marshalls, we had to make sure that was well enough away from the firing area. IMO the cost wasnt too bad and I was expecting it to be a bit higher, so I was pretty happy.”
UKFR Forum moderator Julian adds: “I’m assuming the churches Quasar mentioned don’t have the church insurance policy that I have – otherwise his display would have been covered at no extra cost. The policy I have includes cover for up to 300 spectators and for more than one event per year. Cover for more spectators can be arranged by paying an additional premium on a per event basis. The EIG (i.e. the Ecclesiastical Insurance Group, not the Explosives Industry Group!) is the company that I use. It was founded in 1887 to provide insurance for the Church of England but its developed a lot since then and offers insurance to charities, organisations and individuals and more besides. It also offers insurance to other Christian denominations and other faiths. (So Hindu and Sikh temples and organisations might find cover for Diwali fireworks is available). One of the standard church policies includes insurance cover for firework displays and “bonfire night” bonfires. The company’s always been very helpful and approachable when I’ve discussed firework displays with it. So it might be worth checking out. Another option that I’ve suggested in the past is that folk might explore working in association with their local Church of England church. This might be appropriate for folk who want to do community events and have a good working relationship with their local church. For example, I helped set up a local Community Group in my area and have worked with a Residents Association in another. In both cases church and community successfully worked together, pooling resources and facilities to good effect.”
Aside from searching on the internet, the two best places to ask for any help relating to insurance are your fireworks supplier and the UKFR Fireworks Forum which the above quotes have been taken from. Registration is free and there are dozens of members with direct experience of putting on fireworks displays who can help or make suggestions.