Boston Organizers Release Olympics Insurance Plan Details

By PHILIP MARCELO | July 24, 2015

Leaders of Boston’s bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics released details Thursday about insurance proposals they say will provide unprecedented coverage for Massachusetts taxpayers.

The Boston 2024 bid committee released a document that described at least eight types of insurance it promises to purchase to minimize the risk to taxpayers in the event of unanticipated costs.

The private organization has estimated the insurance will cost about $128 million, which it said it would pay for fully.

Items covered by the insurance policies include:

  • Events that are canceled due to unforeseeable occurrences like natural disasters, terrorism or labor strikes.
  • Costs if the sponsor of a game is unable to meet its financial obligations.
  • Costs for reduced ticket sales and attendance if events become less appealing because a competing country drops out, impacting advertising or broadcast revenues.

But a local group opposed to the Olympics says the multi-layer insurance plan still would not protect taxpayers from overages if Boston 2024’s budget underestimates building costs or the scope of the planned projects changes over time.

Christopher Dempsey, co-chair of the No Boston Olympics group, says those have been the main drivers of overruns in previous games.

“If the boosters are so confident in their financial plan, why are they still asking taxpayers to provide a guarantee to cover Olympic deficits?” he said. “Boston 2024 remains a risky plan for Massachusetts taxpayers.”

Boston 2024 organizers, in Thursday’s insurance proposal, say they’ll require contractors and developers to purchase insurance plans for specific building projects, like the the Olympic stadium, athlete’s village and other venues.

Required features of those plans could include added protections like surety or performance bonds, which would guarantee a project will be finished in case the contractor defaults, Boston 2024 says.

Boston 2024 said it consulted insurance experts, including two companies that have done work for high-profile events such as the Olympics, the Super Bowl, the NCAA Tournament and the Tour de France.

It said plans to issue a request for proposals to insurance brokers by Aug. 1.

The issue of how city and state taxpayers will be protected financially if the games go over budget has been a central concern to Olympics opponents.

Boston 2024 organizers have struggled to turn public opinion in their favor ahead of a critical Sept. 15 deadline for the U.S. Olympic Committee to officially submit a bid to the IOC.

Release of the insurance proposals comes as Boston 2024 leaders prepare to square off Thursday night against No Boston Olympics representatives in a prime-time, televised debate.

The release also follows controversy Wednesday over the group’s reluctance to reveal at least two chapters of its original submission to the USOC.

Boston 2024 said late Wednesday it would release a full, unredacted version of the proposal early next week, after Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh publicly called on the privately-funded group to release the information, which opponents say includes critical financial details impacting taxpayers.

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