Why Race Directors Need Event Liability Insurance for Virtual Trail Races

Nicholas Hill Group, Inc., provides event liability insurance for American Trail Running Association (ATRA) event members through our Trail Running Insurance Program (T.R.I.P.).

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the cancellation of most trail races leading to a sharp increase in virtual trail races. Our executive director Nancy Hobbs (pictured below) recently had a conversation with Nicholas Hill Group co-owner Nathan Nicholas about event liability insurance for virtual races to find our why it’s needed, how it’s different and what it covers.

[Nancy] Why is Nicholas Hill Group offering policies for virtual trail races?
[Nathan] We made the decision to extend the ATRA T.R.I.P. program to include virtual races at a lower rate (with less coverage since we feel less is needed) due to demand coming from event directors. We’ve seen numerous events switching to a virtual race format to avoid an all-out cancellation of their event. We feel they still need insurance and it’s likely they are still required by sponsors to provide proof of liability insurance.

[Nancy] What does the insurance cover?
[Nathan] We recommend race directors take a look at the following PDF document to see all the coverage details.

[Nancy] What is it the cost of this insurance? Is it based on the number of “virtual participants?”
[Nathan] The cost is $0.07 per participant for the general liability premium (plus a few fees), but subject to a minimum fee of $125. Based on that, it means any event with roughly 1,800 or fewer participants will be at $125.

[Nancy] How soon can an event director secure a policy?
[Nathan] We are being told that the online system will be completed by April 15, but we anticipate a few days to test and possibly correct any bugs that appear. In the meantime, race directors can get a quote prior to that by contacting our office at 719-694-2595, or by sending an email to info@nicholashillgroup.com.

[Nancy] If an event director already had insurance for a physical event through ATRA, can this policy be transferred?
[Nathan] We are still working out these details, but yes, we will work with current insureds.

[Nancy] How does an event director secure this insurance through the ATRA T.R.I.P. program?
[Nathan] There will be a virtual event option as part of the standard T.R.I.P. application. The current website link will remain the same, but on or shortly after April 15, we will be redirecting the link to the new automated system.

[Nancy] Is someone open to liability if they stage a virtual race without this insurance?
[Nathan] Anyone can sue anyone in the United States and the event organizer would be forced to defend themselves even if they feel they have no exposure. We also anticipate sponsors and possibly venues (if a virtual event requires that participants run at a certain location – i.e. national forest, BLM, State Park, etc.), to potentially continue to require proof of coverage.

[Nancy] If someone/organization doesn’t charge an “entry fee” should they still secure this insurance?
[Nathan] We feel that if a person or organization is organizing an event and providing instruction related to participation in the event, then insurance should be strongly considered.

[Nancy] Any other program details event directors should know about?
[Nathan] With the new automated system launch, ATRA members can now secure coverage for an entire year, listing all of their events (both traditional and virtual) on one application.

Editor’s Note: Be safe as we continue to navigate the uncertainty around the COVID-19 pandemic. Please continue to follow the recommendations and updates from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), including proper hygiene practices. Also consider reading iRunFar’s COVID-19: A Trail Running and Ultrarunning Community Guide.