By Steve Keating
NEW YORK (Reuters) - You might not be able to beat Mother Nature but you can try to protect yourself from her and the NFL made sure all bets were covered when it came to Sunday's Super Bowl between the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks.
The forecast for the league's showcase game has improved dramatically to the point where weather is not expected to be an issue when the teams take the field at MetLife Stadium with temperatures hovering just above freezing and only a slight chance of precipitation.
But the threat of a monster blizzard or a teeth-chattering Arctic vortex disrupting the Super Bowl party was enough for the NFL to take out what experts estimate to be a multi-million insurance policy.
The league confirmed to Reuters only that it has interruption insurance for all games but according to Steven Perlini, a vice president for HCC Specialty Underwriters, Inc. which has insured most of the world's major sporting events, coverage is far more extensive and took in every possibility.
"I am familiar with it to some degree," Perlini told Reuters. "This coverage is called event cancellation insurance but it is really much more than that, in reality it covers a lot more than the event being cancelled.
"If the event is interrupted and starts back up, but they suffer a financial loss from it, that is covered. If they have to reschedule, relocate to a different venue, that's covered. There are all sorts of different scenarios that are covered.
"There are a few exclusions in the policies but, outside of that, anything that is beyond the control of the event organizer is going to be covered."
With New York/New Jersey staging the first cold weather Super Bowl, the NFL had a number of contingency plans in place, including moving the big game to Saturday or Monday, should the area get slammed by a winter storm.
RANGE OF THREATS
Any policy also likely includes a wide spread of threats ranging from terrorist attacks to power failures, Perlini said.
"Regardless of whether it is the Super Bowl, the Kentucky Derby, the Masters or a European football game, you are going to look at major things," explained Perlini.
"You always want to envision what scenarios could take place, what problems you could have for that particular event.
"There is a difference between an event in New York like a Super Bowl, where you have big weather or snow exposure, versus an event like the Breeders Cup out in southern California where you have an earthquake and wild fire exposure, versus a trade show or concert in Europe that could be affected if say the volcano in Iceland goes off again.
"In today's world, the threat of terrorism must also be taken into account."
Certainly, for a game where a 30-second television commercial can cost $4 million and tickets have a face value of up to $2,500, the potential for losses is staggering.
Also to be considered is that various groups have pegged the economic impact of the Super Bowl on the New Jersey region at between $500 and $600 million.
In the secretive world of insurance underwriting Perlini would not reveal whether his company has ever provided Super Bowl coverage, confirming only that they have underwritten most of the world's major sporting events at one time or another.
The standard rate for under-writing one of the world's big events, according to Perlini, can range from 0.5 to 1.5 percent of the amount being covered.
"The bigger ones are the FIFA World Cup, the Olympics, the Super Bowl," said Perlini. "Some of these events will buy insurance to protect one source or revenue like their television contracts.
"Some will buy just to protect ticket revenues, some will buy to protect sponsorship revenues.
"At the Olympics, for example, the organizers are going to have a lot of exposure and that exposure might be different than the International Olympic Committee. But there are not many bigger events than the Super Bowl."
(Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes)