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As the times have changed and the price tag on presidential inaugural festivities has grown, so too has the scope of insurance coverage for the event.
In 1960, while working for CNA Financial Corp. in Chicago, William H. Perkins Jr. put together the coverage for the 1961 inaugural events after working on President John F. Kennedy's 1960 campaign.
The Kennedy inaugural was only the second to be insured, recalled Mr. Perkins, now president of Riverside, Ill.-based lobbying firm Howlett & Perkins Associates Ltd. The first was Dwight Eisenhower's second inauguration four years earlier.
"After the campaign was all over I came back (to Chicago) and was contacted by the chairman of the inaugural committee, who asked if I would be interested in writing the insurance for the inauguration," Mr. Perkins said.
"I had never heard of the damned coverage before," Mr. Perkins said. But, he said, "We're talking about the next president of the United States and so forth, so without any authority at all I went ahead and bound it."
The coverages were bound with CNA subsidiary Continental Casualty Co.
Among the coverages were non-appearance insurance for the president-elect and vice president-elect. "If something should happen to either, we would've paid something like $2 million per individual," Mr. Perkins said.
"Then we insured the stands along Pennsylvania and Constitution avenues, liability coverage," he said. "The first claim we paid, incidentally, was on a federal judge who came around the corner of 15th and Pennsylvania Avenue and purportedly tore his pants leg on a protruding board some carpenter hadn't sawed off."
Insurance also covered the mailing of tickets and inaugural medals, losses from the cloakrooms at the inaugural balls and any third-party liability along the parade routes.
Underscoring how times have changed, Mr. Perkins recalled a critical risk management concern in the Kennedy inaugural. While terrorist attacks play on the minds of event planners today, in 1961 a key risk was a botched effort to keep birds away from the parade route.
"They sprayed the overhangs of the buildings and the trees for starlings and pigeons," Mr. Perkins recalled. Unfortunately, most of the material meant to dissuade birds from gathering overhead fell on the sidewalks and bleachers.
"We had visions of people sitting down there and ruining their garments," Mr. Perkins said. But a quick cleanup effort, along with a huge snowfall, mitigated that risk, preventing losses.