November 30, 2021 by Markel Insurance Canada
As the Canadian sports industry emerges from COVID-19, advising your clients on the right risk management strategies is essential for the return to safe play, a Markel Canada executive suggests.
For an industry that’s been one of the hardest hit by the pandemic, bouncing back quickly and safely from its devastating impacts has been critical, says Brenda McClung, Director, Markel’s Play sector, Canada’s leading insurance market for sport, leisure, recreation and fitness organizations.
“Even more critical,” McClung adds, “Is ensuring the industry overcomes ongoing challenges and mitigating new risks with proper risk management.”
Amateur sports in particular suffered dire consequences when COVID-19 first hit, McClung explains. “Events were suddenly cancelled and facilities shut down abruptly as a result of the multiple lockdowns to stop the spread of the virus. Teams and leagues were adversely affected, cashflow disrupted and insurance challenges saw many people questioning whether event cancellation insurance applied,” McClung says. As a result, the industry was left with “so much uncertainty in unprecedented times”.
And the industry’s far from out of the woods, she adds.
“With sports being contact-based and spectator-based, for the most part, the very challenge is in the nature of the game,” McClung says. “Uncertainty over possible future interruptions, compliance in implementing safe play, changing regulation, protocols, public health restrictions and access to information all remain constant concerns for the industry.”
McClung says the industry needed to rethink the way it manages transmission risk and associated liability.
“As a whole, we need to consider the safety of everyone – the athletes, staff, coaches, spectators, communities. All of these pose different challenges the industry needs to properly address on a day-to-day basis.”
Despite the ongoing obstacles, the industry has shown resilience in bouncing back and keeping its publics and athletes engaged throughout the events of the past 20 months, whilst facilitating a safe return to live sports, McClung says.
“Virtual sporting events became very popular during the pandemic and kept fundraising and cashflow going, whilst encouraging physical and mental health. Now that things are opening up again, we’re seeing the industry generally adapting well to implementing new protocols and requirements to ensure safe play.”
With this in mind, advising clients around new and existing risk has become more important than ever.
From an insurance perspective, there has justifiably been increased focus and scrutiny on COVID-related losses. However, McClung cautions, it’s “just as important to keep the necessary attention on risks and liability surrounding traditional, more severe exposures, including concussions and abuse”.
What to tell your clients
Markel offers the following advice to share with your clients in the sports industry to help manage their risk and reduce liability:
For more information on Markel Canada’s sport insurance program, click here.