CalNonprofits Articles

Colleen Lazanich photoWe asked Colleen Lazanich, CEO of our social enterprise CalNonprofits Insurance Services for answers:

Q: Revenue programs being canceled include fundraising events, conferences, workshops, clinic hours, theatre performances, and more. Is there insurance to help with this?

A: You might be thinking of Business Interruption Insurance (also called Business Income Insurance), which replaces income that was not earned due to a disaster. However, most business interruption policies only pay if there is direct physical loss from the disaster which results in disruption of the income-related activity. For example, if a wildfire damages your barn theatre (let's say), business interruption insurance would help make up for lost ticket revenue. But if your theatre stays closed due to the virus, then there hasn't been physical loss and so lost revenue would not be covered. If you have business interruption insurance, call your insurance broker to go over your specific policy and your specific situation to see what might be covered.

Q: We've heard about event cancellation insurance. If we had a fundraising event or a concert or a street festival, would it help if we had that? If we don't have it, should we get it now?

A: Nonprofits most typically obtain event cancellation insurance when they have large events that have both substantial costs and substantial revenue. Such insurance covers losses if the event is canceled due to reasons beyond the nonprofit's control, such as an electric power shutdown, a performing star artist being too ill to perform, or flood damage to an area where a fundraising run was planned. Keep in mind that some event cancellation insurance only covers direct, actual losses, such as the deposit on a conference location or money spent on costumes and stage sets. In other cases, event cancellation insurance will also cover lost income. Usually, event cancellation insurance must be purchased at least 15 days before an event.

CalNonprofits Insurance is getting inquiries from many nonprofits right now about purchasing event cancellation insurance...

for spring and summer events. We may not be able to find carriers that are willing to write a policy at this time given the uncertainty around the possible duration. Some carriers are explicitly excluding coronavirus as a loss that would be covered under event cancellation insurance. In addition, sometimes the cost of such a policy is so high it presents a barrier for nonprofits to purchase it all. Apologies for being repetitive, but if you are considering event cancellation insurance, be sure you talk over the kinds of funds you would be eligible to receive, and what types of reasons for cancellation are admissible.

Q: What if we don't get event cancellation insurance? Will our general liability policy cover some of the losses?

A: In almost all cases, the answer is no.

Q: We are having some employees work from home in response to the coronavirus. Are there any insurance concerns we should know about?

A: A very important concern is related to workers' compensation insurance. When an employee is working from home, they could trip on an electric cord in their own hallway and file a worker's comp claim. A strong risk management approach to this scenario is to adopt a Work From Home Policy and to have all employees who work from home sign a Work From Home Agreement. Such an agreement will cover, for instance, the employee's commitment to a safe working environment at home, what availability is expected, how performance measurements might change, computer security at home, and so forth. You can find templates online, including some from ThinkHR, a resource available free to CalNonprofits members.

Many nonprofits staff cannot work from home; they may be halfway house residential counselors, food bank staff, clinic staff, and more. Some nonprofits are choosing to have all staff come in because they don't want inadvertently to message that some people's health is more important than others. Think carefully about how you manage your workplace when you have such a situation. If you are looking for sample work from home policies, you can find one here from the Society for Huma Resource Managers (SHRM), and a shorter one here from ThinkHR. SHRM also published a blog post: If You Never Worked from Home Before, Here are 10 Suggestions.

Q: What else should we be thinking about in terms of insurance?

A: Nonprofits and communities are all being affected by the virus, often in unexpected ways, and in new ways every day. Insurance may not be top-of-mind right now, but risk -- and risk management -- surely is. The Nonprofit Risk Management Center has a few resources to help with business continuity, including an article on what to do if you don’t have a business continuity plan in place. I also think that they should consider making sure they are following recommendations from public health and the CDC to protect both employees and participants.

Since 1984, CalNonprofits has served the nonprofit community in part by providing insurance of all types to California nonprofits. Today more than 1,200 nonprofits choose our social enterprise CalNonprofits Insurance Services (CNIS) as their full-service broker, and more than 22,000 nonprofit employees obtain their health insurance through CNIS. Please contact us to see if CNIS can help your nonprofit with any or all of your insurance concerns: 888.427.5222 or email

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