Archive for the ‘Sports Camps/Clinics’ Category

When Youth Sports Teams Move Up One Year

Is it safe in all age categories?

What liability exposure exists for administrators and coaches who allow a younger sports team to play up in an older age category? That question was asked by a visitor to our website:
“I am struggling with a team playing up a year in age U12 Boys moving to U13 Boys in soccer. What are your thoughts? And do you know of any lawsuits. I am on the board and I want to be able to answer any questions.”
We invited a guest expert to respond to that for us. Gil Fried is an attorney and professor at the University of New Haven who provided the following answer:
“I am not familiar with any lawsuits from a younger group moving up one age category.  If they moved up several years the proportional difference in skill and size could open a door to liability.  Since the potential for in jury exists at all soccer levels, I would suggest that the children in the 12-year-old group and their parents be sent a letter indicating the potential concern that since younger kids are playing against older kids there could be a chance for injuries. The letter should be clear and allow parents to pull their child if they are concerned without any retribution.”

Sexual Abuse/Molestation Insurance for Sports Organizations

The risks organizations face and the preconditions for coverage

Child Abuse in Youth SportsSexual abuse and molestation is, unfortunately, a major topic of conversation within youth sports insurance in the past decade.  The sports insurance carriers that write General Liability have been decimated with a number of large settlements and adverse jury verdicts.

As a result, most carriers are not willing to extend coverage for abuse/molestation unless risk management controls are in place.  In other cases, the coverage is only available by tapping into custom programs for larger governing and sanctioning bodies that have significant negotiating power.

Coverage for abuse/molestation is important because all directors and officers will be sued along with the alleged abuser.  The directors and officers will be sued for failure to screen out staff with criminal backgrounds, failure to respond to an allegation, and failure to implement policies and procedures such as the use of a “buddy system” and prohibition of overnight sleepovers.

As a precondition of coverage, many insurance carriers will require mandatory background checks on all staff with access to youth, as well as the adoption of a risk management awareness program.

We have more detailed information on the various types of background checks and the strengths and weaknesses of each, as well as a free and simplified Abuse/Molestation Protection Program on our risk management page.

Is Your Team/League Adequately Insured?

Find out with our minimum requirement checklist

How do you know for sure that your team/league sports insurance policies provide the coverage you need to protect against devastating lawsuits? Many local insurance agents and even so called sports insurance specialists are guilty of offering inadequate coverages.

ChecklistMinimum standards for sports insurance have been set by a sports insurance expert, risk manager, and attorney John Sadler of Sadler Sports and Recreation Insurance. These standards are outlined in two separate checklists, one for private teams/leagues that purchase their own insurance one for teams/leagues with insurance provided by a municipal recreation department. Feel free to use our Sports Organization Insurance Checklist and Municipal Recreation Department Insurance Checklist.

Sports administrators no longer need to frustrate themselves trying to determine what coverage and limits are necessary. They can simply submit the checklist to their insurance agent for completion. The insurance agent then checks off whether each standard has been met and signs his or her name.

Once the completed checklist has been received, administrators then can decide what to do based on the results. If your team/league hasn’t met the the mandatory standards, your insurance agent should  remedy the problem or you should find a new insurance agent who can offer policies that meet the minimum standards.

Visit our team and league insurance page for more information on coverage or to get a quote. Or call us at (800) 622-7370!


Copyright 2014, Sadler & Company, Inc. All rights reserved.


AEDs and Liability in Public Schools

Will sympathy impact legislation?   

Too many communities have grieved debilitating injuries or premature deaths of high school athletes due to cardiac events. Many schools maintain automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) in an effort to prevent such tragedies.

 Outdoor AEDThere are no federal mandates regarding AEDs in public schools. Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa , Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia and Wisconsin have passed legislation requiring some schools to maintain portable defibrillators.  California and Tennessee encourages placement in public schools.

 But a debate has started over whether public schools can be held liable if the AEDs are not used. This stems from a lawsuit that will go before the Florida Supreme Court sometime this year.

 What set the ball in motion

When an East County High School soccer player collapsed on the field, school personnel called 911 and performed CPR while waiting for emergency responders. The AED on campus was not utilized. Although paramedics were able to revive the student with a defibrillator and medication, he suffered severe brain damage and is in a vegetative state.

 The lawsuit argues that that the school district is liable. Lower courts found in favor of the school district, acknowledging that the school is legally obligated to try to help any student who becomes injured or ill on school grounds but not to authorize or direct specific treatment such as the use of an AED.

 Florida ruling could have huge impact

If the Florida Supreme Court overturns the lower court ruling, there is potential for every youth sports facility or program to be affected. This includes both public and private facilities and programs, such as those run by school districts, local and state governments, parks and universities. If this occurs, the next question will be whether AED training will be required of paid and volunteer coaches, referees, and organizers or risk being sued in the event of an episode such as the one in the current suit. And will these organizations be required to purchase other medical devices and provide training to avoid liability? And, of course, this could affect the cost of Liability Insurance, as typically is the case when claims are made.

 Source: Mark Miller and Deborah J. LaFetra, “Fla. Lawsuit Set to Define Schools’ Legal Duty to Use AEDs,” Tampa Tribune.  16 Apri 2014


Covered Activities Under Sports General Liability Policies

General Liability policies for sports and recreation organizations should cover the following activities that are supervised by adults and sanctioned by the sports organization:

  • Tryouts
  • Games
  • Practices
  • Tournament
  • Non-sport Outing

It is critical that coverage is included for non-sport outings such as swimming parties, backyard cookouts, trips to restaurants, etc.  Some of the most serious injuries and largest lawsuits that I have witnessed over the past 20 years have come from non-sport outings – particularly swimming parties.

Some General Liability policies that are deficient may restrict coverage to owned and leased premises that are scheduled on the policy.  This could be a big problem if the sports organization has travel teams or if non-sporting outings occur away from the premises.

Some General Liability policies include endorsements that restrict coverage to the time periods when officially sanctioned events take place.  This is a big problem if a sports organization owns its field or facility or is responsible under the terms of a lease on a 24/7 basis.

Named Insureds Under Sports General Liability Policies

The named insureds under a sports organization’s General Liability policy should include the legal entity itself and its directors, officers, managers, employees, and volunteers.

All of the above mentioned parties are covered by most late edition General Liability policy forms.  However, many prior policy forms that are still in use neglect to add coverage for volunteers.

It is of critical importance to correctly list the name of the legal entity for the sports or recreation organization.  For example, if the organization is incorporated or is a limited liability company, Inc. or LLC should appear in the name.  In other words, the name should be listed exactly as the entity was chartered with the appropriate state governmental office.  Failure to correctly list the name of the legal entity could result in coverage denial based on a technicality.

Independent contractors who perform services for your sports organization and are paid on 1099s are not covered under the standard policy forms unless specifically endorsed. However, the sports or recreation organization and other insured persons are covered if the negligent acts of the independent contractor result in a lawsuit against any named insured.

Occurrence vs Claims-made Insurance for Sports Organizations

An occurrence policy form is superior to claims-made coverage under a General Liability policy for a sports or recreation organization such as a team, league, camp or recreation department.

Claims-made coverage is far more complicated to administer as opposed to an occurrence coverage form for the following reasons:

  • When renewing a claims-made policy, the agent must be careful to set the retroactive date back to the original inception date for the first claims made policy.
  • If a claims-made policy has been canceled or non-renewed due to neglect, the retroactive date must be properly set upon renewal.
  • When changing from a claims made policy form to an occurrence policy form, “tail coverage” or an “Expended Reporting period” must be purchased so that coverage will remain in force for delayed reaction lawsuits that are filed for covered injuries that occurred during the claims made policy period(s) but that are not reported until after the last claims made policy has expired.
  • When a sports organization is going to shut down its operations, the same “tail coverage” or “Extended Reporting Period” must be purchased to protect the past administrators and volunteers against future delayed reaction lawsuits.

Sports organizations present the perfect opportunity for delayed reaction lawsuits that can be extremely dangerous under claims made policy forms.  For example, a minor who is injured at age 5 can wait until the age of 18 plus 2 years for the statute of limitations to run out, which is age 20, before filing a lawsuit.  During this 15-year time span there is too great a chance that a technical mistake will be made under the claims-made policy form which could void the coverage.

Always buy the occurrence policy form instead of the claims-made policy form under General Liability for a sports or recreation organization.


Sports Insurance for Sexual Abuse and Molestation

Check if you’re covered under General Liability

Insurance carriers that write General Liability insurance for sports and recreation organizations take two approaches to covering lawsuits alleging sexual abuse and molestation.  Some carriers’ policy forms remain silent on the issue under the theory that it is covered if it is not excluded.  This is usually true, but some state case law may reach a contrary conclusion.  However, most policy forms provide an affirmative grant of coverage for sexual abuse and molestation through a special endorsement.

For example, many carriers provide an endorsement that provides sex abuse and molestation coverage in the amount of $1 million Each Occurrence and $1 million Aggregate.  Furthermore, the endorsement will usually include a laundry list of exclusions. An example of an exclusions would the perpetrator for remaining passive after an incident has come to the attention of management, etc.

Some policy forms may void sexual abuse and molestation coverage if the sports organization has not implemented a written procedure requiring a background check on all staff with access to youth. program or separately to each individual named insured, such as a league or club.  It’s obviously best if the Aggregate applies separately to each league or club.

Hired Car Physical Damage Insurance

What is and isn’t covered

Sports organizations occasionally rent vehicles for transporting athletes to out-of-town games and tournaments or officers to travel out of state on business. If a Non-owned and Hired Auto Liability policy is in place, it will not respond to damage to the rented vehicle itself.

There are three options available for insuring damage to the rental vehicle:

  • Purchase Collision Damage Waiver from the rental car company. This is the safest course of action to follow as it will often pay for 100 percent of the damages. The cost of this coverage typically ranges from $15 to $30 a day.
  • Purchase Hired Car Physical Damage from the sports organization’s insurance agent. Coverage typically costs $250 per year. However, this policy will not pay the following damages that are triggered by many rental car contracts:
  1.  The difference between actual cash value and replacement cost in the event the vehicle is totaled.
  2. Loss of profits to the rental car company while the vehicle is out of the fleet being repaired.
  3. Diminution in resale value.
  • Rely on credit card benefits for physical damage. The terms of credit card benefits vary greatly.

This is a complex area and consultation with an insurance professional is recommended prior to vehicle rental.

Non-owned and Hired Auto Liability for Sports Organizations

What’s covered and what’s not

When vehicles in use for business pertaining to a sports organization are involved in an accident where the passengers or other third parties are injured, the sports organization may be vicariously liable. This means they can be included in any lawsuits arising out of the accident.  Injured parties often seek out the sports organization as a deep pocket when the owner of the vehicle is uninsured or underinsured.

This is why sports organizations need Non-owned and Hired Auto Liability to cover their liability arising out of the use of vehicles that are not titled to the sports organization.

A non-owned auto is an auto that is not owned by the sports organization but is instead owned by an employee or volunteer who runs errands or transports participants at the direction of an authorized league official.  Sports organizations benefit from the use of non-owned vehicles.

Non-owned Auto Liability covers the sports organization itself but does not normally cover the individual vehicle owner or driver. Individual vehicle owners or drivers must look towards their own Personal Auto Policy for coverage.

A hired auto is either borrowed (ex: church van or school bus) or leased from a rental car company.  Hired Auto Liability protects both the sports organization and driver from liability arising from an auto accident when a vehicle is borrowed or leased. It is important to note that Hired Auto Liability does not provide any coverage for damage to the rental vehicle itself.

Non-owned and Hired Auto Liability can be obtained on either a Business Auto policy or a General Liability policy. However, the insurance carriers are reluctant to write these coverages for sports organizations due to the potential for high severity and the fact that sports organizations typically don’t implement loss control protections.

Basic loss control protections include driver screening by obtaining acceptable Motor Vehicle Reports and requiring that employees provide evidence that they carry a Personal Auto Policy with limits of at least $300,000 combined single limits. In addition, many insurance carriers are reluctant to extend coverage on the rental of 15-passenger vans due to their documented propensity for tipping over.

The actual policy language must be carefully reviewed for these restrictions.