PRSA's insurance softens blow of cancelled conference

NEW YORK: The leadership of the PRSA last week said that the economic impact of the cancellation of the 2005 international conference will be largely mitigated by insurance, although the group will be forced to swallow other associated costs.

NEW YORK: The leadership of the PRSA last week said that the economic impact of the cancellation of the 2005 international conference will be largely mitigated by insurance, although the group will be forced to swallow other associated costs.

Three events scheduled in Miami for the weekend of October 22 were cancelled because of Hurricane Wilma: the PRSA conference, the PRSSA student conference, and the PRSA assembly meeting. While the two conferences were insured, the assembly meeting was not.

With 1,000 registrants who had each paid about $1,000 scheduled to attend the PRSA conference, the group was responsible for more than $1 million in registration fees alone. Because of the hefty implications for the financial health of the association, PRSA president Judith Phair said staff was working "around the clock" to convince the conference's insurers that cancellation was necessary, even though technical "triggering events" like airport closings and a local state of emergency had not yet occurred.  A decision to cancel without the insurer's permission would have cost the group "millions," she said.

"We were looking at the needs of our registrants at the conference, and the needs of all 20,000 members [of PRSA]," she said.

The lack of insurance for the assembly meeting means that PRSA will be responsible for the travel and associated costs for that meeting.

And the fact that the student conference was cancelled early, because of concerns for the safety and liability of the students, cost PRSA money as well.

"We took a loss on the student conference, because we were dealing with 21-year-olds," Phair said.

But those costs are minor compared to the main conference. "We won't get recovery for every single item," Phair said. "It looks like we will be okay. We will be covered for the refund, which was the most important thing."

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