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Cancelled Hellfest tells insurer: “F**k you!”

French metal festival Hellfest Open Air has hit out at what it calls the “shameful” behaviour of its insurance company after being forced to cancel its 2020 edition, originally scheduled for 19–21 June.

In an extraordinary statement posted to the festival’s website, promoter Hellfest Productions – which has been ordered by French authorities to pull the 2020 event because of Covid-19 – says Albingia is refusing to pay out, despite Hellfest having taken out cover specifically for pandemics, as the “type” of pandemic represented by the novel coronavirus is apparently not covered by the festival’s insurance policy.

With a capacity of around 60,000, Hellfest, in Clisson, Pays de la Loire, is France’s biggest hard rock festival. Hellfest 2020, which would have been headlined by Deftones, Faith No More and System of a Down, is officially ‘postponed’ to 18–20 June 2021, with tickets for the 2020 festival remaining valid for next year.

While organisers say they agree with the government’s decision to cancel the festival on health grounds, Hellfest Productions has some choice words for Albingia, which they accuse of prioritising its own financial wellbeing at a time of national crisis.

“For the modest amount of €175,000,” Hellfest says, the festival had taken out a ‘no exemptions’ policy which “clearly stipulates that financial losses due to possible pandemics will be covered, provided that the contract was signed before the outbreak and recognition of the pandemic by the French authorities or by the WHO. Our contract was signed on December 17, 2019, before the virus appeared in China.”

“For Albingia, solidarity is for other people”

Responding to Albingia’s assertion that the current coronavirus outbreak is not covered by Hellfest’s policy, organisers add: “We obviously contest this. For Albingia, solidarity is for others…

“Their reasoning is simple: take our contributions for cancellation insurance? YES. Compensate us? NEVER.”

Hellfest Productions says the impasse will likely result in a legal battle lasting several years. “Meanwhile, the company will keep the money that is owed to us.”

“In short,” it adds, “while are waiting for the start of this long [legal] process, two words come to mind for an insurance company that is supposed to specialise in the events industry: FUCK YOU!”

IQ has contacted Albingia for comment.

Hellfest is the first major coronavirus casualty of the French festival season, following high-profile cancellations in the UK, Austria and Denmark, among others.


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Q&A with event insurance specialist Circles Group

Tell us a bit about the history of the company.

What kind of protection does Circles Group offer?
Circles insurances packages cover:

… and so on. It’s a full package.

You introduced your Circles Ticketing product in 2016 – has that been a success so far?
The first platform was equipped in 2017 and during this period, we tested the process, the reactions of the consumers and the results (loss ratio).

It’s working very well – we’ve had no complaints and it’s super-efficient. We are able to insure more than 10,000 tickets in 70 seconds.

“We are able to insure more than 10,000 tickets in 70 seconds”

How about the reaction from clients?
Our clients are only just starting to believe it’s real! Circle’s ticketing product reimburses immediately and automatically without explanation.

Here’s a testimonial from one the main French ticketing players, Pierre Duvelleroy of Njuko: “Circles Ticketing allows the customer, for a few euros, to take out insurance, allowing them to be fully refunded up to 30 minutes before the event. This product costs nothing to the event organiser, and even allows them to earn money, since they receive a commission on each insurance policy taken out!”

We are already in the launch product period and not yet profitable but rapidly we will be. We need increase the volume and our implantation geographically but we keep very positive because the trends of our platforms installations start to become very high.

Finally, can you list some of your biggest clients?
Many of the biggest artists and events in the world have been insured by Circles Group, including:

Find out more about Circles Group at


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