Cool Insurance Job Profile: Fireworks Insurance Broker

Fireworks fill the night sky with multicolored chrysanthemum bursts.

Fireworks might seem like an insurance professional's nightmare.

First, they explode. Enough said, right? But also consider that fireworks shows tend to draw big crowds — so what happens if someone gets injured at your fireworks show? Can they sue you? What if someone gets food poisoning from a raw burger? Is that your fault?

Good news for all the fans of pyrotechnics: insurance companies do cover these types of risks. If there wasn't insurance for fireworks, there would probably be far fewer shows, because very few businesses and governments would be willing to face all that risk and potential financial burden on their own.

Ed Levy, a regional vice president with Risk Placement Services, Inc., has been insuring fireworks shows as an insurance broker for decades. He works with the people presenting the show and connects them with a company willing to insure the show. Insuring fireworks falls under a category of insurance called surplus lines - or risks that go beyond what most insurers cover. Levy recently spoke with MyPath about what it takes to insure a fireworks show, and his personal favorite type of fireworks. Here is some of what he shared:

MyPath: What do you have to learn about before first starting to insure fireworks shows?

Levy: You have to learn a lot. You have to understand the chemicals involved, and how they react. You have to know how they're being transported, and how they're stored. But there are more important things than the fireworks show itself. Like, what if someone trips and breaks their ankle on the property? If there will be food, who's the food vendor, and do they have insurance? If you own the lands, you're partially responsible for all that.

MyPath: Was that fun to learn about?

Levy: What's exciting about it, and what's exciting about surplus lines in general, is that you learn something new every day. Even if you're looking to insure a restaurant, what that restaurant is doing has a different way of operating than the 200 restaurants I saw before it. With a fireworks show, there are some standard procedures, but they are all different in some way.

MyPath: What are some of the things that can go wrong with a fireworks show, and is it your job to understand and manage?

Levy: Some of the more common claims are for slips and falls, problems with food, and problems with the fireworks themselves. Sometimes, if there's a strong wind, it can blow ashes over everyone possibly into their eyes as they're looking up. There's also always the possibility that the rockets go in the wrong direction. Sadly, I've seen houses catch fire because of that. You might have a rocket that should go 200 feet up, but it goes 50 feet up, and then 150 feet to the right.

MyPath: So how do you plan for all that? What are the questions you ask beforehand?

Levy: You're first looking to make sure that they buy the fireworks from a quality place. Also, how long will the show be? Who's putting it on? Who's launching them? Who's building the platform?

MyPath: It sounds like you're almost an event coordinator, but people often think of insurance is more involved in telling people what they can't do than helping them plan. What's your perspective on that?

Levy: Insurance does make things happen and keeps the economy going. When you look specifically at fireworks shows, there are so many things to coordinate, and I work with them to make the plans. When people ask me what I do, I say I'm a consultant. I don't know an easier way to say it.

MyPath: Why did you choose to get into your career in the first place?

Levy: Something that was very important to me is always learning new things. I love working, but I also like to do something different every day. People have this perception that insurance is monotonous, but it's anything but.

MyPath: So what's your favorite kind of firework?

Levy: The finales are always spectacular, with the circular explosions that start witha pop and then balloon into a massive display.

MyPath: Lighting off any fireworks of your own on July 4th?

Levy: No way. I know enough about what they do but I don't want to get anywhere near them.