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Senior Underwriter, Sport & Leisure, AXA XL

Last year, Jack Reynolds from Chesterfield celebrated his birthday by riding a rollercoaster. Not so unusual, you might think, but great-grandfather Jack was 105 years old – making him the oldest person on record to have ridden a non-inversion rollercoaster.

It would seem that you are never too old to enjoy visiting a theme park. And parks are always coming up with new ways to draw in visitors. According to the International Association of Amusement Parks, new attractions and rides will be opened at some 75 locations worldwide during 2018.

Attractions of all types across the UK are seeing visitor numbers increase – according to the UK Association of Leading Visitor Attractions, the UK’s top destinations saw visitor numbers increase by 7.3% on average in 2017.

Like any large gathering of people, visitor attractions, such as theme parks, adventure parks, fairgrounds and zoos, face certain risks. These include child abduction; denial of access; hostage taking; kidnap; ride failure; terrorist attack; security threats; and workplace violence.

Against this wide range of threats, Visitor attractions are keenly aware of the need to protect the public, their own employees and their business.

Transferring the risk

Risk transfer is available to provide financial protection for loss arising from an insured event, and can cover: damage to property; business interruption (including lost revenue); loss of licence; employers’ liability; injury or damage to third parties; public and product liability; professional liability; and theft.

Insurers also can tailor additional insurance coverages including financial losses caused by the closure of an attraction by competent authorities, such as police, after an incident at or near an attraction.

Terrorism and active assailant coverage is also available, which can pay costs associated with bodily injury, property damage, business interruption and loss of attraction – even if there is no damage to the insured’s own premises, and losses that can arise if an attraction is shut down because of a threat to cause malicious damage or injury.

Fail to prepare, prepare to fail

Visitor attractions, of course, put in place robust safety and security measures. Rides are subject to frequent safety checks, and the security of crowds is paramount. However, it is the pre-event risk management and post-event crisis response that really can make a difference to the way an attraction prevents or recovers from an event.

Working with legal partners, attractions receive advice on compliance with health and safety regulations. This not only helps to prevent incidents, but also to provide evidence in the defence of any civil claims or regulatory prosecutions.

Insurers are instrumental here and prefer to work with clients on a long-term basis in order to work alongside them in risk prevention management as well as risk transfer.

In the unfortunate event that an incident does occur, crisis management consultants can help attractions to recover. The first 48 hours after an event are crucial for protecting both visitors and employees, and also for safeguarding an attraction’s reputation and business going forward.

Crisis management experts work with visitor attractions to establish a response strategy and provide services such as emergency centres and counselling, where needed. Crisis consultants can also assist with effective communications to the media and support with social media.

Whether your tastes run to thrill-seeking rides or more sedate museum visits, we are all likely to visit an attraction of some kind these coming summer months. And behind the scenes, these venues have been carrying out risk management and working with their insurance providers to help them prepare for any threats and open their doors to the public.

About the author: Steve Baxter is a Class Underwriter in XL Catlin's Sport & Leisure team, and can be reached at

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Global Asset Protection Services, LLC, and its affiliates (“AXA XL Risk Consulting”) provides risk assessment reports and other loss prevention services, as requested. This document shall not be construed as indicating the existence or availability under any policy of coverage for any particular type of loss or damage. AXA XL Risk. We specifically disclaim any warranty or representation that compliance with any advice or recommendation in any publication will make a facility or operation safe or healthful, or put it in compliance with any standard, code, law, rule or regulation. Save where expressly agreed in writing, AXA XL Risk Consulting and its related and affiliated companies disclaim all liability for loss or damage suffered by any party arising out of or in connection with this publication, including indirect or consequential loss or damage, howsoever arising. Any party who chooses to rely in any way on the contents of this document does so at their own risk.

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