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Papal insurance: Case study in special event insurance
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Papal insurance: Case study in special event insurance

Several thousand politicians, public safety officials and security personnel can breathe a sigh of relief now that the Pope is back on his home soil. While his visit to the U.S. was a resounding success, a behind-the-scenes security effort was working overtime pulling out all stops. The enormity of the events and the risk they posed is boggling: Driving in a glass bubble through crowds of millions; visiting venues as diverse as the White House, Congress, the UN, a convent, an inner city school and a prison; staging large scale events in large public venues in three of America's largest cities. Add to that "a client" who likes to get close to and mingle with the people. The Pope is famous for ditching his security staff and other security measures - witness the signature black Fiat. In an interview last year, he said "It's true that anything could happen, but let's face it, at my age I don't have much to lose."

While the Pope may make light of his security, the rest of the world does not. Any good insurance nerd has curiosity about the insurance arrangements and the risk management challenges that his visit posed. Think special event insurance on steroids. Young Ha of Insurance Journal has interesting details on the insurance coverage front: Planning the Special Event Insurance for Pope’s Philadelphia Visit.

During the Pope’s visit to Philadelphia, a claim could come from “anybody coming to the event, anybody associated with the event,” Conte also added. “If I am not even coming to the event and if I fall over some wires or television cables that are around, I could claim that my injuries were caused by the negligence of the Roman Catholic World Meeting of Families and try to present my claim. That’s what makes this risk more concerning perhaps for underwriters than others,” he said.

Conte also noted that there is a monoline terrorism policy purchased, so the U.S. liability underwriters are not writing that coverage. He added that while terrorism is always a concern, there is more security at this event than anything he’s ever seen. “For obvious reasons, the U.S. does not want something to happen on their soil and that’s another reason why the underwriters think this is a good risk because you got as much security as you possible can here,” he said.

The Boston Globe adds that a Boston insurance broker helped to plan coverage for Pope Francis visit to Philadelphia.

Now bear in mind, these stories cover a two-day leg of a six-day trip. New York official said that the papal visit was the largest security challenge ever for the NYPD - partly because 170 delegates to the UN were also in town. Oh, and a Beyonce concert.

The Pope's visit was declared a national special security event (NSSE) by the Department of Homeland Security. Such a declaration launches a high level of federal security.

An NSSE is a significant national or international event determined by DHS to be a potential target for terrorism or criminal activity. Under the designation, the U.S. Secret Service is placed in charge of event security and the FBI has the lead on collecting intelligence and—should a crisis occur—managing the response. Examples of past NSSEs include State of the Union addresses, party conventions, United Nations General Assembly meetings, inaugural events, and the Winter Olympics and Super Bowl in 2002.

In How do you protect the Pope?, CNN Security Analyst Juliette Kayyem talks about some of the risk management challenges:

Why are such high-level precautions necessary?

The reason for the lavish security -- New York, Washington and Philadelphia will be like fortresses during the visit -- isn't so much about there being a specific, known threat. Instead, the precautions reflect the immeasurable consequences of anything happening to the Pope while he is in the United States.

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