C Scott Smith, the man in charge of insuring the biggest multi-sport event the UK has ever held, talks to Jason Woolfe about cover and the Commonwealth Games

He is the man entrusted with insuring the biggest multi-sport event in UK history.

The safety of one million spectators, five thousand athletes and officials and countless people from the media and trade partners could depend on his risk management work.

And scores of commercial contracts will be underpinned by the policies he put in place.

C Scott Smith - the C stands for Charles and betrays his American background - could be forgiven for being a little smug.

Because as the risk manager for Manchester 2002, he bought insurance for the Commonwealth Games, which will take place later this year, before the US terrorist attacks.

And when the destruction of the World Trade Centre sent premiums rocketing and capacity shrinking, not only was the war and terrorism coverage already in place, but the policies could not be withdrawn.

So he is confident the games won't face the problems the World Cup organisers did when AXA pulled out of covering the tournament in November.

Football's governing body Fifa eventually found alternative cover, but seeing its difficulties, Smith did not wait for his insurers to get cold feet in the aftermath of the attacks.

He got straight on the phone to his insurers.

"I had frank discussions with all our carriers," he says. "I didn't want to wait for bad news to come so I told them I'm asking the question now.

"I've been given assurances they won't be changing our coverage or asking to bow out of anything."

Describing AXA's decision as "unfortunate", he added: "They should have done their underwriting exercises."

Smith's 20 years in the insurance business includes having put together the policies protecting next month's Winter Olympics at Salt Lake City, Utah.

He drew on that experience when putting together Manchester's policies, including the crucial cancellation and abandonment programme that was put in place in September 2000.

The war cover was put in place a year later - just before the destruction of the World Trade Centre.

Smith believes he got the programme in place just in time and says he would not be able to buy the same cover now.

"The coverages wouldn't be as broad and as deep as they are now. The premium would probably be 120% more than we paid. On the cancellation programme, the premium would have been 200% more."

As a non-profit making organisation with no assets except its contracts, Manchester's Commonwealth Games has just the one shot at glory with no chance of future earnings to put towards the cost of cover.

Favourable terms
Its programme was placed at Lloyd's and Smith declines to reveal the programme's value or premiums' cost other than to say: "We were able to get very favourable terms."

But it is designed to protect the £141m budget spent on staging Manchester's games.

The programme is split into two main parts, the first covering cancellation or abandonment and the second covering property, liability and executive risks.

For the latter, he drew on experience he gained putting together policies for the Salt Lake City games.

Together with broker James Hopper of Marsh sports group, Smith wrote the policy and took it into the market.

The underwriting submission filled two four-inch binders, but Smith feels his unusual approach paid off. He says the market supported their submission.

Manchester 2002 is likely to have more than 100 commercial partners by the time the games get underway in July and this adds to the complexity of his work.

Security issues
Another factor is the amount of detail Smith knew the market would want to know.One example is security arrangements.

He says: "The risk that's always there for large multinational multi-sport events is terrorism.

"All that 11 September has done is make the British government and the Greater Manchester police focus more on that point.

"We're locking down a few more venues than at first, but our security people had already set a very high standard."

Even with the cover in place, Smith's work is not yet done. He started work on 1 October 2000 - the cancellation and abandonment policies had been put in place by deputy chief executive David Leather- and his contract runs until December this year.

One of his ongoing tasks is to approve every insurance policy held by the games' many sponsors and suppliers.

It all adds to the scale of the task and of a job well done if all goes off without a hitch.

There is no disguising a touch of pride in Smith's voice as he describes the scale of the games: "There hasn't been an event like this in the UK before."