Liability Insurance – Do You Need It?
In the wake of a huge court settlement in Hawaii, many organizations are now considering it. Find out what this could mean for you.
Back in 2004, a tragic accident took the life of a teenage girl. She and two other girls were in Hawaii on a cheer leading trip, and were under the supervision of a chaperone. The chaperone was sued, and was recently handed a verdict of nearly $700,000.
This controversial verdict has been receiving much media attention, and bloggers across the web are hotly debating the merits. But one thing is for sure – chaperones will be thinking twice about volunteering.
When you seek out volunteers for fundraising events and activities, of course you look for people you know to be responsible, have experience with your group’s age group, are reliable, knowledgeable, quick on their feet, and are truly concerned for the safety and well-being of your group members.
But as everyone knows, accidents do happen. As careful as you can be, there will always be things that are out of your hands. These are the things that will be weighing on your volunteers’ minds the next time you ask them to chaperone an event. All those “what if’s” just might sway their decision.
One option many organizations are now considering is liability insurance. Liability insurance protects your organization and the individuals working for you from liability in the event of an accident. That means, if an accident does happen and you become the target of a law suit, the insurance (depending on the coverage you have) will cover court costs and settlements.
The idea is similar to fire insurance for your home. You hope it won’t happen, you take every step possible to prevent it from happening, but the insurance gives you the added comfort of knowing that at least financial needs will be covered if something does happen.
Is this something your organization needs? Having it can give volunteers peace of mind, and make them more comfortable with the idea of chaperoning an event. Especially if you work with children, it might be something for your organization to consider.
A good starting point is to contact several insurance providers and compare prices and coverage options. Decide if it’s something you can reasonably afford, or, depending on your organization, something you can afford not to have.
Of course, insurance or no insurance, safety should always be your number one concern at any fundraising event or activity. Here are a few steps you can take to ramp up safety measures:
• Always have a fully stocked first aid kit. Put together smaller first aid kits in fanny packs or small backpacks to give to each chaperone.
• Organize a meeting of parents and chaperones to discuss safety concerns.
• Plan events in areas that are easy to monitor, with very few places where a child could hide or slip away.
• Visit the area with your chaperones before the event so that you are all familiar with the layout and know which places need heavier monitoring.
• Get background checks on chaperones.
• Don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions. It’s your right and responsibility to ask potential chaperones if they’ve ever been involved in any incidents or allegations.
• Educate your group members. Remind them to stay in view and hearing distance of chaperones and never to go anywhere without first alerting a chaperone.
• Schedule group bathroom breaks so that children are never going off by themselves.
• Use and enforce the buddy system.
• Do regular head counts.
• Teenagers tend to be more independent. Keep in mind that this does not mean they need less supervision.
Having fun is a key part of any fundraising event or activity. But no one has fun if safety is compromised. Whether you choose the safety net of liability insurance or not, it is always critical to be as safety conscious as possible, at all times.
Happy Safe Fundraising 🙂