Once a year, tens of thousands of people flock to Nevada's Black Rock Desert ("the playa") to create Black Rock City, a temporary metropolis dedicated to community, art, self-expression, and self-reliance, and highlighted by larger-than-life art installations, theme camps, gift giving, costumes, and other mediums of self-expression. An experiment in temporary community, Burning Man is an outdoor festival on steroids.
What began in 1986 as a Summer Solstice event with 20 participants has grown into a massive annual gathering that drew more than 56,000 people last year. Each year’s festivities are centered around a theme, with a symbolic raising and burning of a giant “Burning Man” statue. The event has even spawned a growing year-round Burning Man culture based on a set of principles established by participants.
According to http://www.burningman.com, this isn’t any ordinary festival with performing acts booked on massive stages. It's a community created and shaped by its participants. And with no guidelines about how to behave other than a few rules to protect the health and safety of the community, it’s basically a no-holds-barred opportunity to express oneself in the ultimate community gathering.
Anything can happen, and that’s exactly why liability exposures abound.
If you plan to participate in the Burning Man event with your own art car, art installation, or theme camp, you may have some liability insurance issues to consider. Many exhibits and installations are participatory and involve climbing, swinging, suspending, and other activities. Other installations involve pyrotechnics and other special effects. And with few rules and guidelines, anything can happen.
Participants have always had a hard time securing insurance for Burning Man, mainly because insurance carriers didn’t understand the event or how to underwrite the unique exposures. Fortunately, Heffernan Insurance’s own Amy Vitarelli (San Francisco) and Benjamin Stern (Los Angeles) worked closely with a carrier for two years to develop a program to address this unique need.
Introducing Insurance on the Playa …
Burning Man is a once-in-a-lifetime experience where relationships are created, neighbors meet each other, and everyone’s collective survival is challenged. Devout participants consider it a life changing event. And, Heffernan has set out to make sure it’s not a negative life change by introducing a new program called Insurance on the Playa. The program offers coverage for Burning Man participants including liability for theme camps, art cars and art installations, and coverage for owned or rented property.
One of the hallmarks of the annual Burning Man event is the massive cleanup effort. By the time the event is over and the volunteers have left, there will be no trace of the city. Likewise, if you plan to participate in this year’s Burning Man, let Heffernan Insurance make sure you depart WITHOUT a trail of liabilities. Visit the Burning Man section of our website to learn more.