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The Massive Costs of Insuring the Super Bowl

Being chosen to host the Super Bowl is a boon to the local economy, bringing in tens of thousands of fans to fill hotels, rent cars, eat at restaurants and shop at local stores. The host city can expect to see upwards of a $500 million dollar influx into the local economy, according to the NFL (though that figure is much lower by some accounts).

Liabilities of Major Sporting Events

Hosting the Super Bowl is also a giant risk and liability for the municipality, host committee and stadium. More people flowing in creates more opportunity for accidents and mishaps, as well as inviting more opportunity for crime. Outside the stadium, the city needs to be concerned with people’s safety on the streets, prompt emergency response times, and proper inspection of any temporary structures that the city issues a permit for. The host committee may also be responsible for insurance covering official NFL sponsored events held every year outside of the stadium.

All that risk means that insurance around the Super Bowl is critical. Insurance requirements land on the stadium, the host committee and the city depending on the situation, with the NFL handing the bulk of the responsibility to the hosts. When a city hosts a major event like this, they need to consider insurance from every angle:

  • Liability
  • Property
  • Workers compensation
  • Event cancellation insurance
  • Insurance for any co-branded or co-sponsored events
  • Insurance for officially-sponsored events held outside the stadium

Insurance Requirements of Host Cities

Shortly after Minneapolis was chosen to host the Super Bowl in 2018 (for the 2017 season), the Minneapolis Star-Tribune leaked a copy of the “Host City Bid Specifications and Requirements” which, in part, lays out the NFL’s requirements for host-carried insurance.

Requirements include:

  • Coverage by A.M. Best, A-VII “or better” insurers
  • The stadium’s insurance is the primary liability insurance for the event
  • General liability coverage must extend to: bodily injury, property damage, products liability, contractual liability, independent contractors and personal and advertising injury
  • Liability insurance must cover at least one hundred million dollars per occurrence and in aggregate
  • Commercial automobile liability insurance of at least five million dollars per occurrence and covering all  vehicles (owned, leased, hired and non-owned), bodily harm and property damage
  • If the host committee is self-insurance, they most present either a performance bond or a “fronted” liability policy from an approved insurer
  • Workers compensation insurance
  • Employers’ liability insurance of at least five million dollars
  • Commercial general liability coverage of at least twenty million dollars for all venues that are part of official NFL sponsored events but are not covered by the stadium’s insurance or agreement.
  • Appointing a formal risk management function to oversee insurance (among other duties)

In all, the word “insurance” appears in nine sections of the 154 page document and requires $350,000,000 million in coverage at an absolute bare minimum.

We’re not just talking about coverage for Super Sunday either. Official NFL Super Bowl events targeting fans can begin as soon as 10 days before the main event and require insurance coverage, according to the leaked document. Cities often see influxes well before that, with outside companies and work teams coming in as early as a month beforehand to begin setting up extravagant Super Bowl events.

Cities, stadiums and host committees often begin working out the insurance logistics for a Super Bowl a year or more in advance. Since a massive amount of insurance is required (much more than one insurer will likely provide), coverage is typically divided into a primary layer with excess layers in smaller ($10-$50 million) amounts, according Insurance Journal.

The Super Bowl is an exciting time for football fans everywhere, but cities that experience hosting the big game gain a whole new appreciation for all the work that goes making the event happen at all. Insurance coverage is only part of the millions of dollars states spend to host the Super Bowl. Arizona spent $30 million (from private and public funds) for the 2015 Super Bowl. When the game was at MetLife Stadium in the Meadowlands, New Jersey and New York spent a combined $70 million and San Francisco expects hosting the upcoming event to cost more than $50 million.

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