Archive for the ‘Teams/Leagues’ Category

Top 5 Sports Risks Resulting in Insurance Claims

You need to know them to try to prevent them, but sports insurance still a must

Accidents can happen any time, to anyone, on and off the sports field. Many aren’t even related to playing the sport itself, and many result in serious injuries. Sadly, a large portion of them can be prevented with a little attention to hot spots and putting into place proven risk management policies. However, others are just part of the game.

We take pride in offering our clients risk management advice in an effort to prevent claims. We hope you’ll be able to avoid making the top 5 list:

  1. Wayward balls are the cause of more claims for damages and injuries than anything else in sports. Baseballs in particular are high-speed missiles that slam into players, dugouts, spectators, cars, windows, and anything else in their path. Wild pitches, overthrown lacrosse balls and basketballs, and baseballs hit out of the park are only some of ways balls can cause injuries. A real horror story to a client occurred when an assistant coach was struck in the face by a pitched baseball while warming up the pitcher. He later lapsed into a coma and died of his injuries resulting in total claims cost of $1,001,000.
  2. Falls by players, coaches, spectators, groundskeepers and officials are by far the most common sports injury. Holes in the field, slippery or wet surfaces, obstacles in or around the field, bases, field markers, and equipment cause people to fall. Falls from bleachers, benches, ladders, playground equipment, backstops, and goals are also not uncommon. Broken, sprained or twisted limbs can result in expensive medical bills and even time off work. Falls can even result result in death.  One of our baseball leagues had a claim that settled for $41,781 where a spectator fractured both ankles after stepping in a washed out grassy area of a ballpark.
  3. Vehicles of all sorts are involved in numerous sports-related claims. Many can be avoided if parking and traffic flow signage is displayed properly. Delivery trucks backing into concession stands, golf carts and riding mowers overturning, tents and awnings collapsing on vehicles, tractors hitting parked cars, vandalism, and balls flying through windshields are common incidents at the ballpark. One of our baseball leagues experienced a claim where a person was injured by being pinned between a scoreboard table and golf cart with a resulting settlement of $50,000.
  4. Roughhousing and unsupervised children can cause all sorts of mayhem. Playing or climbing on goals, vehicles, bleachers, gates and fences frequently ends in injuries. This includes unattended children in play areas, near water, or in wooded areas of the park. It’s also not unusual for players to be swinging bats or tossing/kicking balls in areas where others can be hurt, such as concession areas, parking lots and near bleachers. And in heated competitions, it’s not unusual for fights to break out among spectators or between players on the field. An example of this type of claim was when one of our local league clients was sued as a result of children climbing on statue at an awards banquet which caused $4,789 in damage to Sports insurance claimsa water fountain.
  5. Player collisions with other players, spectators and equipment are common. Baseball, soccer, football, and basketball players frequently collide with one another on the field, often resulting in concussions, fractured limbs, and other injuries. Basketball and football players often crash into spectators on the sidelines. And it’s not unusual for players to collide with teammates and coaches on the bench, down markers, goals, and bleachers. One of our clients had a situation where a youth football player was driven into a 1st down marker and fractured his arm. The insurance settlement was $75,000.

These are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to accidents that can happen in and around sports. The examples listed on this page are expected to occur with some frequency. However, it’s often the unexpected types of claims that result in some of the largest payouts. You just never know what can happen and that’s why you must have quality sports insurance. We have a whole list of horror stories about what can go wrong on our risk management page, which also includes lots of free risk management material.

Benching of Youth Participants and Resulting Lawsuits

Parents who pay want their child to play

It’s not yet what you’d call a trend, but there’s certainly an uptick in the number of parents filing lawsuits to get their child off the bench and onto the playing field.

Parents put out big bucks in registrations fees, equipment and travel costs associated with high school and youth club and travel teams, to say nothing of the time they invest attending practices and traveling to games. Many parents sacrifice their time and money for their children hoping to get the attention of college coaches, earn scholarships, and improve chances of college admissions – or even advance a professional athletic career. So, it’s understandable that some are dissatisfied when their child rides the bench more than he or she plays. In other words, they expect a payoff for their investment.

There is also an increase in lawsuits by parents of children who have been cut from teams, injured, disciplined by coaches or penalized by officials. But is hiring an attorney the answer? Many are questioning not only the attitude of entitlement, but how the children, who generally play for the fun and camaraderie, are affected by such lawsuits. What are the children learning when parents step in so heavily handed to smooth the way? Will they learn they’re entitled to play on a team simply because they attend practice? And are parents setting these athletes up to be bullied by other team members?

The increasingly competitive nature of youth sports has helped shift many parents’ focus from fun, exercise and sportsmanship to an investment in their children’s academic and professional futures. Youth sports officials are watching the case of a 16-year-old volleyball player. The girl earned spot on a volleyball league but ended up on the bench, so her parents filed suit against the volleyball association, alleging it won’t let the girl play or to switch teams, per the contract she signed.

General Liability policies, which typically only respond to certain lawsuits alleging bodily injury or property damage, don’t cover these types of lawsuits that allege loss of college scholarship or loss of pro career. Such lawsuits generally require a Professional Liability endorsement on a General Liability policy or a stand alone Professional Liability policy.

Source: Tracey Schelmetic,, 21 Apr. 2015.

Boundary Dispute Fells Little League Champs

When adults cheat, it’s the kids who pay

Fraud and cheating occur too frequently in government, business, education, mediaand, sadly, even youth sports organizations.

Little League stripped the Jackie Robinson West team of its U.S. championship and suspended its coach for violating the league’s team boundary rule. In what can only be called a team-building effort, team officials altered a league map that determines the areas from which players can be recruited.

In addition to the team being relieved of its international tournament wins, the team manager was suspended the administrator of Illinois District 4 was removed. But it was the players, who were unaware of the team’s manipulation, who paid the highest price. Mountain Ridge Little League was awarded the championship.

It was an agonizing decision but critical in upholding the integrity of Little League, according to Stephen Keener, Little League International president and CEO.

Over the past 10 years, a number of Sadler Sports Insurance sports league clients were sued over boundary disputes involving the eligibility of a particular player (usually a superstar). Disqualification of an ineligible player by a sanctioning body prior to a tournament can result in a legal challenge for injunctive relief asking to halt the tournament until the judge can rule on eligibility. Due to the legal expenses and inconvenience involved, it is recommended that sanctioning bodies have tight boundary rules that are not subject to alternate interpretations. And, of course, they must always follow their own rules when making a decision.

Source: Tom Farrey, “Little League punishes Chicago team,” 11 Feb. 2015.

Insurance for Youth Sports Leagues

The purchase of quality sports insurance policies, including Excess Accident, General Liability, Directors & Officers Liability, Crime, and Equipment,  is an essential element of a broader based risk management program. The purchase of these policies has become the standard in youth sports. Failure to do so subjects the entity and its directors, officers, employees, volunteers, and other stakeholders to uncovered liability and property losses. By purchasing quality insurance, the board of directors fulfills its fiduciary responsibility to act in the best interests of the organization and those who serve the organization, as well as the members who are benefited.

Quality sports insurance policies are now widely available in the marketplace from many different sources. They may be obtained through the sanctioning body or association to which a league belongs, if any, or from an independent source. Policies are available through local insurance agents or insurance agencies that specialize in sports insurance that operate on a national basis. However, there can be a wide discrepancy in the quality of coverages and some programs and carriers may offer substandard limits or unacceptable exclusions that can result in unexpected claim denial.

When comparing competing insurance plans, most decision makers tend to concentrate on price as the major differentiating factor. However, the quality of coverage is much more important. It is often difficult for decision makers to compare the coverages of one policy to another to determine which one offers the broadest protection. Insurance agent marketing materials, such as proposals, brochures and web page descriptions, often don’t include complete information about all policy coverages and exclusions. The only way to really know what is offered is to enlist the assistance of an experienced business insurance professional to review the actual policy forms. However, most leagues won’t go to that trouble. As an alternative, we offer a coverage checklist that can be presented to an insurance agent for completion and signature. This checklist will require the insurance agent to disclose how the policy deals with critical coverage elements and whether it doesVolleyball insurance or doesn’t meet recommended minimum standards for quality sports insurance.

Below is a brief summary of the most essential sports insurance policies with a brief overview of important coverage considerations.

Excess Accident: Pays medical bills on behalf of injured participants (players and staff) to the extent that such bills are not already covered by existing family health insurance, if any. This policy is usually required by General Liability carriers as a pre-condition of General Liability coverage. An Excess Accident policy should have a medical limit of at least $25,000, and higher limits should be strongly considered.

General Liability: Responds to certain claims or lawsuits alleging that the negligence of the sports organization resulted in bodily injury, property damage, personal injury (i.e. slander, libel, invasion of privacy) or advertising injury (disparaging statement made about a competitor in advertising materials) to a third party. The typical claim is bodily injury to a spectator or athletic participant. The “each occurrence” limit should be at least $1,000,000 and coverage enhancements should be considered for sex abuse and molestation and non-owned and hired auto liability. Dangerous exclusions to avoid include athletic participants’ exclusion, punitive damages exclusion, assault & battery exclusion, contractual liability limitation, and collapse of a temporary structure.

Directors & Officers Liability: Responds to certain lawsuits that are not covered by a General Liability policy involving managerial negligence or employment practices Basketball Insuranceviolations. Examples include financial mismanagement; violation of rights under state, federal, or constitutional law; failure to follow own rules or bylaws when making a decision; wrongful suspension, termination, or discipline of staff or players; and discrimination based on race, sex, age or disability. The “each claim” limit should be at least $1,000,000. An important coverage extension to consider is Cyber Risk coverage to protect against losses resulting from data breaches of confidential information by hackers and for libelous statements posted on websites or social media.

Crime: Employee Dishonesty covers a financial loss due to embezzlement, theft of property, or unauthorized personal charges by an inside officer, director, or staff member. Coverage extensions should be added for forgery and alteration, as well as theft of money & securities. Sports organizations should implement financial controls to make such occurrences less likely to occur. The policy should be endorsed to extend Employee Dishonesty coverage to non-compensated officers and volunteers.

Equipment: Covers a financial loss from damage to sports organization equipment (i.e. sports equipment, field maintenance equipment, concession equipment, etc.) and small structures, such as bleachers, fences, and scoreboards from perils such as fire, wind, theft and vandalism. Coverage should be purchased on a replacement cost basis with equipment valued at 100% of replacement cost to avoid any co-insurance penalties in the event of a partial loss.

Other Policies: Larger sports organizations with more complex operations may require the following additional policies: Workers’ Compensation to meet requirements of state law pertaining to injured workers, Commercial Property to cover permanent structures such as larger buildings and their contents, and Commercial Auto to cover owned vehicles.

For more information on why each insurance policy is important and pitfalls to avoid, see the special report entitled “7 Critical Mistakes to Avoid When Buying Sports Insurance”.

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.

Crime Insurance for Sports & Recreation Organizations

Employee/volunteer theft are more prevalent than many realize

Sports and recreation organizations can have significant assets at risk from the traditional employee or volunteer embezzlement and the modern perils of electronic fraud. Most sports organizations are not properly insured for these exposures and don’t have adequate risk management controls in place.

The Commercial Crime policy form (ISO CR 00 20 05 06 and CR 00 21 05 06) offers the following coverage parts that may be individually purchased:

Employee Dishonesty Provides coverage for employee theft of money, securities, or other property such as equipment. Employees are defined as regular employees, temporary workers, leased workers, trustees of employee benefit plans, interns, managers, directors, or trustees.

If applicable, it is critical that sports and recreation organizations request special endorsements to extend coverage to theft from volunteers, non-compensated officers and members of specified committees, specified directors and trustees on committees, partners, LLC members, computer software contractors, agents, brokers, or independent contractors.

It is also important to purchase Employee Dishonesty coverage on a blanket basis that protects against theft from all employees or others in a designated class as opposed to specified employees or others who must be individually named on the policy. Sports and recreation organizations experience a high rate of personnel turnover. It’s not uncommon for an organization to fail to update the list of specified employees.

Forgery and Alternation Provides coverage for forgery or alteration of a check, draft, or promissory note drawn against the insured’s accounts.

Money and Securities Provides coverage for theft, disappearance, or destruction of money and securities from either inside the premises/banking premises or outside the premises. Coverage may also be extended to robbery or safe burglary of other property.

Computer Fraud Provides coverage for financial loss due hacker access effecting a fraudulent transaction. An example of computer fraud occurs when company A sells services to company B. An employee of company B hacks into the computer of company A and changes the bank routing and account numbers. The next time a payment is made foElectronic crimer services, the funds are fraudulently transferred to the employee instead of company A. According to a 2008 survey by Computer Security Institute, the average financial loss due to computer fraud was $289,000.

Electronic Funds Transfer Fraud Provides coverage for financial loss due to a hacker access to a financial institution, accessing an online account, and circumventing normal online authentication controls to affect a fraudulent wire transfer. An example of this type of fraud occurs when a hacker gains bank account and password information by planting a Trojan virus in an email attachment sent to a company bookkeeper. When the attachment is opened, a keyword logger is launched that secretly obtains account and password information. The hacker accesses the online banking system and completes a fraudulent electronic wire transfer. According to a 2008 survey by Computer Security Institute, the average financial loss due to funds transfer fraud was $500,000.

Money Orders and Counterfeiting Provides coverage due to loss by good faith acceptance of money orders that are not honored or counterfeit money.

Traditional Crime Risk Management Controls

Many smaller organizations are not run as serious businesses and as a result don’t have strong risk management controls to protect against employee and volunteer dishonesty. The key to preventing insider dishonesty is separation of duties so that no single person has total control over any one process or audit procedure. Below are recommended controls:

  • Require a countersignature on all checks or on checks over a certain amount.
  • The person who reconciles the bank account should not be authorized to deposit or withdraw funds.
  • If credit cards or debit cards are used, authorized users should not be tasked with reviewing the monthly statements.
  • Keep detailed inventory records of all equipment and require a log to be maintained when equipment is assigned or checked out.
  • Create an audit committee to review all financial records, account statements, and to take an inventory of all equipment.
  • Collect checks instead of cash during fundraisers.

Electronic Crime Risk Management Controls

Pfishing scams, Trojans, key loggers, and similar techniques allow hackers to gain access to online banking transactions and to circumvent standard online authentication controls. Internal controls such as antivirus software, firewalls, and employee training are critical but don’t offer 100 percent protection. Computer Fraud and Electronic Funds Transfer Fraud coverages are strongly recommended.

Get a Quote

Contact Sadler Sports & Recreation Insurance at 800-622-7370 for a Crime Insurance quote. We have an existing Crime Insurance program available for smaller, locally-based organizations for as little as $175, which includes coverage for Employee Dishonesty, Forgery and Alteration, and Theft of Money and Securities. Larger sanctioning and governing bodies will be asked to complete an application that outlines your financial risk management practices and we will be able to provide a proposal within several days in most cases.

Coach Certification Liability Insurance

Several of the coach certification training organizations offer General Liability insurance as a membership benefit to the coaches. This is a great benefit that is designed to act as a safety net in the event that the sports organization neglects to provide its own insurance or if its insurance contains unacceptable exclusions.

Some sports organizations that require all of their coaches to be certified mistakenly interpret this membership benefit as a green light to forgo purchasing their own General Liability insurance. This is a dangerous mistake. Individual coach certification General Liability insurance will not provide protection under the following circumstances:

  •  It won’t cover the sports organization as an entity. As a result, the assets of the entity are unprotected if a lawsuit results in legal defense costs, settlement, or an adverse jury verdict. This can be catastrophic; even small sports organizations can have many thousands of dollars of asset value in their bank accounts, equipment, real estate, etc.
  • It won’t allow for the issuance of a certificate of insurance under the name of the sports organization, which may be a property owner’s requirement for field or facility access.
  • When a youth participant is injured, it is customary for all adult volunteers in close proximity to the injury to be shotgunned into the lawsuit based on negligent supervision. This includes the head coach, assistant coach, manager, umpire, referee, team mother, etc. In addition, the organization’s board members and officers will normally be included based on lack of general supervision. It’s likely that not all these volunteers are certified coaches and therefore won’t be protected.
  • Most coach certification liability policies only cover lawsuits arising out of direct coaching activities. However, many lawsuits in the youth sports context arise out of non-sport activities and outings such as swimming parties, restaurant celebrations, backyard cookouts, banquets, fundraisers, etc.

The bottom line is that all sports organizations need their own General Liability policy. If you have questions, or want assistance in determining your insurance needs, please call us at (800) 622-7370.


Copyright 2002-2014, Sadler & Company, Inc.


Insurance Policies Needed by Sports Organizations

The minimum needed for maximum benefit

Because many sports organizations are run by volunteers, they are often under-insured. Insufficient insurance coverage may be a by-product of money-saving efforts or simply a matter of not understanding the risks of exposure to the athletes, coaches, staff and volunteers, and board members

Below is a list of the most important insurance policies that may be needed by community-based sports organizations such as teams, leagues, and municipal recreation departments.
  1. Accident: Pays medical bills on behalf of injured participants such as players and staff.
  2.  General Liability: responds to lawsuits arising from bodily injury, property damage, personal/advertising injury.
  3. Directors & Officers Liability (AKA Trustees Errors & Omissions for municipal recreation departments): Responds to certain lawsuitSports orginizationss not covered by General Liability such as discrimination, wrongful suspension or termination, failure to follow your own rules or bylaws, and violation of rights of others under state, federal, or constitutional law.
  4. Property/Equipment: Covers your buildings, equipment, and contents against loss due to fire, vandalism, theft, etc.
  5. Crime: Covers employee or volunteer embezzlement of funds or theft of property; forgery or alteration of checks by outsiders, and theft of money and securities by outsiders.
  6. Workers’ Compensation: May be required by state law if three or more employees and pays benefits to injured workers for “on the job” injuries including medical bills, lost wages, disability lump sums, disfigurement lump sums, and death benefits.
  7. Business Auto: Covers liability and physical damage to owned, non owned, and hired autos.
  8. Consult with your insurance agent about other types of policies such as Liquor Liability, Cyber Liability, Media, etc.

We provide more detailed information on each of these policy types and insider tips on purchasing insurance in our article, 7 Critical Mistakes to Avoid When Buying Sports Insurance. If you have questions or want assistance in deciding which policies your organization needs, call us at (800) 622-7370.

Copyright 2002-20014, Sadler & Company, Inc.

The Gamble of Being Underinsured

The risks can be catastrophic

Gambling diceBeing underinsured is just as big a mistake as being uninsured. It’s no secret that insurance is one of those necessary purchases that buyers resent. But it’s also no secret that purchasing the correct coverage has protected countless people and organizations from potentially catastrophic financial circumstances.

Sports organizations are often run by volunteers who aren’t aware of the potential risks to which their league and players are exposed. This often results in lack of coverage – for all the wrong reasons. Thinking ahead is your insurance agent’s job. He or she has seen it all and knows anything can happen to anyone at any time.

What’s behind the lack of insurance?

Many sports administrators mistakenly believe that they don’t need to buy Accident and General Liability insurance to cover their sports programs for various reasons. After more than 25 years in the sports insurance industry, I’ve heard every excuse in the world for such decisions. Here are the top four:

  •  “Our waiver/release forms will prevent lawsuits.” The use of a well-drafted waiver/release form is a great tool under some circumstances. However, it won’t prevent a lawsuit from being filed. Even if the waiver/release does result in the lawsuit eventually being dismissed, it may still cost $10,000 to $20,000 in legal defense fees to get to that point.
  •  “Volunteer immunity statutes will prevent lawsuits.” State and federal volunteer immunity statutes are a positive step in the right direction. However, they typically have too many loopholes and exceptions that limit their effectiveness. For example, most immunity statutes exempt protection in the event of grossly negligent behavior, willful or wanton conduct, or the reckless disregard for the safety of others. Most lawsuits make these allegations and the judge has to sort out if they have any merit. All this takes time, and the more time it takes to sort this out, the greater the legal fees. In addition, these statutes don’t protect paid staff and the sports organization as an entity itself.
  •  “Our employees/volunteers/administrators provide their own liability policies.” Many sports organizations will leave it up to the individual volunteers or administrators to protect themselves through Homeowner’s Liability, Personal Umbrella, or Coach Certification Liability policies. This can be a dangerous strategy for many reasons. Homeowner’s Liability and Personal Umbrella policies may include an exclusion for lawsuits arising out of activities of the insured person as a sports volunteer. Furthermore, they won’t protect against the non-bodily injury or non-property damage lawsuits that a Directors & Officers policy may protect against such as discrimination, wrongful termination, failure to follow own rules or bylaws, etc.

The insurance policies sports organizations need

Below is a list of the most important insurance policies that most community-based sports organizations such as teams, leagues, and municipal recreation departments should carry.

  • Accident insurance pays medical bills on behalf of injured participants.
  • General Liability responds to lawsuits arising from bodily injury, property damage, and personal/advertising injury.
  • Directors & Officers Liability (or Trustees Errors & Omissions for municipal recreation departments) responds to certain lawsuits not covered by General Liability, such as discrimination, wrongful suspension or termination, failure to follow your own rules/bylaws, and violation of rights of others under state, federal, or constitutional law.
  • Property/Equipment insurance covers buildings, contents and equipment against loss due to fire, vandalism, theft, etc.
  • Crime insurance covers employee or volunteer embezzlement of funds or theft of property; forgery or alteration of checks by outsiders, and theft of money and securities by outsiders.
  • Workers’ Compensation may be required by state law for organizations with three or more employees. It pays benefits to injured workers for on-the-job injuries including medical bills, lost wages, disability lump sums, disfigurement lump sums, and death benefits.
  • Business Auto insurance covers liability and physical damage to owned, non-owned, and hired autos.

There are other types of policies that some organizations may require. For much more detailed information on this topic, please see 7 Critical Mistakes to Avoid When Buying Sports Insurance.

For assistance in determining which policies your organization needs, to have your questions answered, or to receive a quote, please call us at (800) 622-7370.