Posted by: jmwilsonmga | June 14, 2011

Special Event Nightmare

Recently, this YouTube video caught my attention.

It was intermission at a hockey game and they had a puck shoot contest.    The prize was $50,000!

The 73 year old contestant was at the line, stick in hand and his target was the net at the opposite end of the rink, covered with a board so only a 6 inch space remained open. He lined himself up and sent the puck down the ice.  The camera caught the puck just as it slid into that tiny opening!

The crowd was roaring and cheering for this regular Joe who just made the shot of a lifetime!  Very cool!  Even better was that the contestant had said that if he were to make the shot, he would give the money to a local charity.

Wait, what?  He was in front of the line???? 

The insurance company denied paying out the $50,000 because the stipulations outlined in the policy were not followed….and they had it on camera – so no disputing it.  He was clearly in front of the designated red line.

The insurance company caught a lot of flack for not paying the claim, but is it their responsibility for ensuring the contest is run properly?  What about the announcer who was standing right next to the guy or the other “official” looking people on the ice? Did no one notice the man was not in the correct position before shooting?  Who was in charge of this event?

I’ve been to many golf outings with hole-in-one events where the witness has no idea what distance the golfers need to be shooting from to qualify for the prize.  Sure, the chances are pretty slim that anyone will actually make the shot, but what if today is the day?  If I’m the policy holder, I want to be sure that everyone involved in the contest knows the details and parameters of the contest. 

While it is the policy holder’s responsibility to know all the rules and regulations of their policy and conduct the contest accordingly, I also believe that their independent insurance agent should be making them very aware of how important that responsibility is.  Encourage them to have witnesses who understand exactly what will qualify for the prize and what might disqualify a contestant. 

A situation like one spread around on the viral YouTube video can be a public relations nightmare for not only the company, but the insurance agent and insured.  So, when it comes to insuring a special event, leave nothing to chance – except for someone to win the big prize fair and square!

About the Author : Cathy Baldwin, Marketing Manager

Cathy has been a member of the J.M. Wilson Team for over twenty-one years and currently serves as the Marketing Manager.  She oversees the marketing team, which provides marketing support for our underwriting teams in commercial transportation, property/casualty, professional liability, personal lines, and surety.  Cathy loves the variety in her position as marketing manager.  She has the opportunity to work with everyone at J.M. Wilson, our agents, and the companies we represent.  In her free time, Cathy loves to run and ran the 2011 Kalamazoo Half Marathon.  She also enjoys reading and listening to music – her favorites range from Neil Diamond to Led Zeppelin. 

Connect with Cathy on LinkedIn

Disclaimer :  This article is for informational purposes only.  There is no legal advice being suggested or proffered.  The author assumes no responsibility or liability for the actions taken or not taken by the readers based upon such information.  This article is the opinion of the author and is not supported or endorsed by J.M. Wilson.  It should not be relied upon and may contain inaccuracies or content may have changed over time, contact your underwriter for the most current and accurate information.  Any comments or responses are the opinions of their authors.  Content on this site is believed to be covered under Fair Use.

Copyright 2011 J.M. Wilson Corporation


  1. I run an outing where I purchase the hole in one insurance (and are also the agent for the policy) and it seems every year there is a mix up on this one. I get to the course early, check the pin placement and set the tees where they need to be. Than almost always one of the following three things happen.

    #1. A golf course employee changes the location of the cup, which on a large green could make the yardage several yards shorter.

    #2. A golf course employee changes the location of the tees that I set.

    #3. The first group of golfers take the ladies tees, which I set equal to the mens per the rules of the contest, and moves them to the normal location of the ladies tees for that hole.

    Even if the organizer knows the rules backwards and forwards, they need to communicate the rules with the greenskeeper and especially with the witness that they have planned to have watch the hole. The witness is probably the most important because they are typically people who have no clue on the rules of golf (otherwise they would be golfing in the event!!)

    Great post Cathy!

  2. Great examples, Jason, and reminder for all upcoming outings! Having a witness that understands the rules and can communicate them to the players is vital to avoiding a situation like resulted from this hockey game. Thanks for your comment! -Kristin

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