Last year, a 2010 Harley-Davidson Sportster motorcycle was stolen. The bike was painted pink and signed by a number of country music stars, such as Dolly Parton, Tim McGraw, and Taylor Swift.

Here’s the kicker: It had been donated to be sold in a benefit auction to benefit the Lexington affiliate of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

The bike had been stored inside a trailer secured by chains in the organization’s parking lot. When employees returned to the office after the weekend, they noticed it was gone.


The bike sounds irreplaceable, but I hope at least they had some insurance.

From my event management days, here are some types of event-specific insurance you can consider as you plan your benefit auction.

Property Damage Insurance

Covers the damage or loss of the property of the policy owner. For instance, if you have your auction set-up the night before and a thief slips in during the night and steals a registration laptop and some items, the typical Property Damage Insurance policy would cover those items.

Commercial General Liability (CGL) or Comprehensive General Liability

This is a basic business policy and covers major risks, including property damage and injury to people. Usually higher-risk activities (serving alcohol comes to mind) require an additional policy or rider.

Fire Legal Liability

I once worked at a benefit auction where a centerpiece started to burn. Thankfully, it was only starting to smoke when it was extinguished by the startled guests! A fire legal liability insurance policy is for such instances. Assume your auction volunteers accidentally bump a table and cause a can of sterno to ignite nearby curtains and burn down the venue. This is the policy to have on hand.

Event Cancellation

If you are holding a benefit auction outdoors and fear bad weather might cause the cancellation of the event, this policy protects against unforeseen circumstances such as that. It may also cover labor disputes or damage to the event facility or venue. (Imagine if you’d scheduled to hold your benefit auction in the Opryland Hotel in Nashville in late May 2010. The flood waters of May 3 would have prohibited you from holding the gala.)

About the Author
Benefit auctioneer Sherry Truhlar’s entertaining stories and advice is often picked up by publications (e.g. Town & Country, The Washington Post Magazine, AUCTIONEER, The Eleusis, The Virginia Auctioneer) and television (e.g. E! Style, TLC) where she inspires and teaches volunteers how to hit new fundraising records in their auction galas. Enjoy her FREE Auction Item Guide(listing the 100 best-selling items to sell in your benefit auction) at

Posted on 24 October 2011

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