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Boston insurance broker helps plan coverage for Pope Francis visit

A papal visit is part Super Bowl, part diplomatic tour and no easy event to insure.

Boston-based insurance brokerage firm Risk Strategies Co. was tapped to create the comprehensive policy to insure Pope Francis’ visit to Philadelphia this week, on behalf of the host committee and the city’s diocese.

Risk Strategies’ subsidiary DeWitt Stern has developed insurance plans for Broadway plays, football games and even the Pope John Paul II’s planned visit to New York City in 1994.

But Pope Francis’ visit posed its own unique challenges, said LeConte Moore, the managing director of DeWitt Stern.

Since the Boston Marathon bombing two years ago, insurance companies have been reluctant to cover such large, open events, that could be a potential terrorism target, Moore said.

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“They run for the hills,” he said.

But Moore, along with Curtis & Porter LLC, the Philadelphia archdiocese’s day-to-day insurance broker, convinced insurers that security for the pope would be tighter than most large events, with agencies such as the FBI providing staff.

Connecticut-based W. R. Berkley Corp., which insures the Super Bowl, eventually signed on as the lead insurer for the pope’s two-day Philadelphia visit.

The total policy not only covers the big liabilities, such as terrorism, but also the smaller risks, such as potential damage to the lectern that Pope Francis will use when he speaks at Independence Hall in Philadelphia.

The simple, walnut lectern is no ordinary stand — President Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address in front of it and would be tough to replace, Moore said.


Deirdre Fernandes can be reached at deirdre.fernandes@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @fernandesglobe.