Inside Risk: Jan Berger, Live Nation
Jan Berger, vice president-risk management for Live Nation, discusses how he manages risk for such a diverse company, one that put on 22,000 worldwide events last year alone.
By Eric Gilkey
For those who don’t know, Live Nation’s principal business is producing live music concerts on a global scale. In addition to this, the company manages artists and sells music-related merchandise, and it also owns Ticketmaster and the House of Blues chain.
Jan Berger, vice president-risk management for Live Nation, discusses how he manages risk for such a diverse company, one that put on more than 22,000 worldwide events alone last year.
Q. Did you find risk management, or did risk management find you?
A. My background is actually technical and focused on engineering. I initially worked in the petroleum industry for about seven years. I left that and earned an MBA, working in finance before becoming corporate treasurer in 1992 for a public, global mining company called Homestake Mining. Part of my responsibilities included overseeing risk management for them.
Since then, I’ve been corporate treasurer for two other public companies, and I’ve overseen the risk management components for each of them. My position at Live Nation is the first position I’ve had solely with responsibility for risk management. I’ve been here almost two years and find it very challenging and a dynamic company to work for. It’s been a lot of fun.
Q. What’s a day in your work life like?
A. I oversee both domestic and international risk. I have a team in the U.K. and a team based in Hollywood, Calif. Daily activities can go all across the map. If I’m working towards a renewal, that will take a portion of the day. We have a claims portfolio we actively manage with a third party administrator (TPA), and the rest of the day is often quite dynamic in terms of what’s happening in the business.
In just North America last year, we had more than 15,000 events with 31 million concert attendees. So it becomes very busy for people who have questions about agreements, certificates of insurance issues, unique coverages—such as special casualty or cancellation coverages on certain events—so I’m fielding questions all the time every day.
Q. What kinds of exposures does Live Nation face?
A. As I mentioned, we have millions of patrons that go in and out of our facilities. We own or control about 125 venues around the world, and we also rent third-party venues to put on our shows. As you can imagine, with thousands of patrons going in and out of those facilities daily, our focus is on making sure they attend our concerts in a safe manner. With that many people, you have your typical slip and falls and the like.
We also face other exposures with our arenas and amphitheaters. Occasionally there is a property event like damage from a hurricane or fire, but that’s rare. The lion’s share are patron issues that occur because you’re moving large amounts of people in a small amount of time around a music concert.
Q. Can you discuss a risk-related success of which you’re proud?
A. I think probably the biggest success I’ve had is educating the operations side of the business on what risk management is all about. Live Nation was spun off from Clear Channel as a public company in 2005. It is a very diverse and dispersed organization, consisting of promoters and music production folks from around the world, all under one umbrella just on the concerts side.
My goal when I arrived here was to try and make employees understand what risk management does, how it can help them and the organization, and how to partner with our third parties to do a better job covering our risks.
Q. What’s your approach to risk management?
A. We all know claims and incidents happen spontaneously. Just like an individual may never have had a car accident before, he still buys car insurance every year. It’s a required necessity in an operating business, and there’s a cost and administration associated with it. It’s to your benefit and the company’s benefit to pay attention to it.
Q. Do you employ enterprise risk management strategies?
A. Because of the nature of the business, you might want to step back and look at the company from an enterprise risk management perspective, but in order to do that you need the right information and data sets. I think that’s difficult to do with this young of a company as it is structured today. We’re not quite ready to approach an enterprise risk management strategy.
Q. How do you resolve your claims?
A. We use Gallagher Bassett as our principal TPA for workers’ compensation, auto, and general liability claims. They provide us with three dedicated general liability adjusters located in southern California. We also have a network of 18-20 workers’ comp adjusters who work on Live Nation’s account across all states, since we operate in almost every one. We have a remarkably small number of claims relative to our activity. The claims activity overseas is dramatically less than the U.S, but we use Broadspire internationally when needed.