Advice on whether you need it and if so, where to get it.
Displays at home
If you are letting fireworks off at home in your garden for a private or family display, it is generally accepted that you do not need to take out any form of insurance and it is not a legal requirement either. Usually, any damage you might cause would be covered by your general household policy, though since some insurers exclude damage caused by fireworks, you might want to check first.
You can mitigate against most risks by setting your fireworks up properly, using them in a space that’s big enough for them, and in terms of neighbours, practicing responsible use.
If your display involves the public, such as a community event where members of the public can spectate (whether paying for tickets or not) then you should always plan for the worst in case of an accident. Even something minor, such as a claim for burnt clothing, can be a major headache if you’re not covered by insurance.
But what if something really bad happens, such as injuries to spectators or even your own firers? Or damage to neighbouring property? Given that we live in an increasingly litigious society, insurance cover for public events is becoming almost mandatory.
You should also consider insurance for private events held at a third party location like a village hall, just in case of any problems.
In this case I mean a display by a member of the public using consumer fireworks as opposed to a professionally fired show, which I’ll cover below.
Before looking for a suitable policy it is worth checking to see if your organisation already has a blanket policy in place for firework displays. Examples over the years where UKFR readers have used such cover (for free or at a discounted rate) include displays for the Church of England, Parents and Teachers Associations (NCPTA), rotary clubs and The Scouts.
Failing that, you will need to look at a one-off insurance policy specifically for firework displays and aimed at non-professionals. A quick search on Google for firework display insurance brings up a number of insurers waiting to take your money. At the time of writing policies appear to start from around £100, though expect it to be much higher if you have a lot of spectators.
Additional considerations when taking out insurance
Underwriters are understandably risk-averse so when you take out insurance there are often a few additional things you need to do. These can add extra time and money to your event.
One of these is fireworks training. Although it’s not a legal requirement for a member of the public to be trained before using consumer fireworks, insurers usually insist on some sort of training. This is usually a day or half-day course with your local fireworks retailer if they run one. You can read more about this in my Fireworks Training article.
Another is the dreaded risk assessment. The scourge of red-tape haters, it does nonetheless help you to consider all of the risks involved in your show and think about what to do if there’s a problem.
Insurers may also stipulate minimum requirements in terms of venue space, distance to spectators, emergency services access and so on. You should enquire about this early on to ensure that your proposed venue is insurable.
If you’re employing a professional team to set up and fire the pyro for your event, they should already be covered by their own insurance. It’s standard in the fireworks trade to have public liability insurance for shows to the tune of £5-£10 million or more. Don’t be afraid of asking for verification of insurance cover before you book.