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insuranceWhat makes Madeira Drive a successful outdoor events venue is not just the sea, not just the (possibility of the) sun, but also insurance. If you want to organise an outdoor event in Madeira Drive, you will need to demonstrate to the city council that you have adequate public liability insurance – amongst a string of conditions that must be met. (For the full list, see the council’s Outdoor Events Policy.) Insurance is perhaps not very exciting, but it is integral to the life of modern society. So much so, that as early as the 1840s, the German philosopher, Ludwig Feuerbach, attributed - in part - the decline of religion to the rise of insurance. Religion, he said, was “in flagrant contradiction with our fire and life assurance companies”.

Insurance is a form of risk management. Seven miles west of Brighton the town of Shoreham on the River Adur used to have an annual bath tub race, but in recent years it has been stymied by the crippling costs of health and safety and public liability insurance. It can be concluded that both the risk (likelihood of the “peril” happening) and cost to the organisers (the “premium”) are too high to be viable.

It’s not only event organisers who need to have insurance, many of the participants also need insurance. Owners of veteran and classic cars, motorcycles and commercial vehicles all need insurance. Of course, any vehicle on the road has to have a valid insurance policy, but how do you insure a pre-1915 Douglas or Greaves motorbike? Who would repair it if it were involved in an accident? How many miles do you expect to do in the course of a year? And how much do you insure it for; how much is it worth? Your ordinary car insurance policy of a comparison website is unlikely to be suitable. That’s why specialist insurance companies exist to meet this market niche. For example, Lancaster Insurance started out in the 1980s as an insurance service for members of the MG Owners Club before broadening its range to classic cars generally. Eventually it was bought out by Capita.

Through a specialist insurer it is possible to have an Agreed Value for your vehicle, instead of the Actual Cash Value (ACV), which is the norm when insuring your workaday car. It may also be possible to specify the actual repair mechanics should an accident happen.

Not only machines need insurance, but persons need it too. A lot of athletic events are held in the Drive but how many participants have insurance to cover their sporting involvement? Sports insurance is certainly available.

Cycling events are becoming ever more popular in Madeira Drive. Unlike motor vehicles, cyclists do not have to have accident cover, but the national cycling organisations like CTC and Sustrans do encourage cyclists to at least have some 3rd party liability insurance, and it is also available through those organisations. Even large cycle retailers, such as Evans Cycles, offer insurance to cyclists.

One fraught dimension of accident insurance for cyclists is the thorny question of whether the wearing of safety helmets should be compulsory. A great many cyclists do not and will not wear a safety helmet, and the argument rages over whether the safety benefits of wearing a helmet have been scientifically demonstrated (see Bicycle Helmet Research Foundation). Sustrans and CTC tend to sit on the fence.

However, while wearing a cycle helmet is not compulsory in the UK, failure to wear one can be judged as contributory negligence in the courts in cases where compensation is sought. (See here)