Posts Tagged ‘Risk Management’

President of Sadler Quoted in “Rough Notes” Magazine

The April 2016 issue of Rough Notes magazine featured an article on the competitive market of amateur sports insurance. Rough Notes is a leading trade magazine for insurance agents that often turns to John Sadler for his insight into sports-related industry trends and issues.

With regard to insurance service and risk management in this segment of the insurance industry, Sadler was quoted saying, “For the third year in a row, the biggest issue of concern in amateur sports insurance is brain injury in the concussion-prone sports. While most carriers haven’t actually seen an influx of brain injury claims activity on the amateur side, they’re being cautious.”

Sadler is referring to the response to ongoing reports in the media of professional athletes diagnosed with CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) following their autopsies and researchers looking into the possible link of contact sports to CTE in living athletes.

“It’s feared that adverse media attention will negatively impact juries.The recent Pop Warner settlement has not helped in this regard; however, many recent court rulings in this area have been favorable to sports associations,” said Sadler.

Sadler was also asked  about rate increases, which he says are running in the range of 0 to 8% for accounts with good loss histories. “High-risk concussion sports are seeing slight rate increases and coverage reductions. Carriers want to limit their exposure on this still-difficult-to-quantify risk by excluding it altogether, lowering aggregates and/or including defense within limits, and they’re also requiring certain risk management controls as a pre-condition of binding.”

He also addressed the issue of risk that comes with the social element of sports and clubs, saying, “While most of these clubs do have policies in place to help cover potential injuries and to protect and defend against any potential lawsuits, there could be gaps. This is particularly true where a liquor liability exposure exists.”

The article in its entirety can be read here.

Source: Dave Willis, “Amateur Sports: Competitive Market, Emerging Risks.” Vol. 98, April 2016.

5 Elements of Good Officiating

Navigating conflict resolution in sports

It may seem ironic to have a discussion on conflict resolution in sports when sports are by their nature all about opposition. But sports officials deal with different types of conflict in the course of their duties, most frequently with coaches.  

A coach’s goal is to win. An official’s goal is to mediate fair play. These two goals often result in conflict, especially if a coach’s attitude is to win at all costs. So it’s not surprising that differences of opinion sometimes result in tempers flaring, harsh words being exchanged, and even physical altercations. But officials can approach these conflicts using the following approaches to effectively minimize or resolve clashes.

  1. Professionalism: Presenting yourself as a professional includes your physical appearance and knowledge of the game. Arriving to the event early in a clean uniform is the first step in making a good impression and gaining respect. Knowing the rules is paramount. Officials can be excused for missing a call, but not for misinterpreting or misstating the rules. Coaches, players and spectators know when an official is prepared and working hard on the playing field.
  2. Approachability: While officials are the authority figure, players and coaches need them to be approachable when conflicts arise. Discussions should not be taking place over every call, but valid questions should be allowed to be voiced respectfully, which usually defuses tensions. Coaches who dispute a call typically just want to be heard, since reversals are rare. When agreements can’t be reached, the goal should be to at least agree to disagree so play can resume peacefully. A coach’s perspective of the issue is usually different from an official’s. It can be helpful to listen and let him or her know you understand their point of view, but are guided by the rules (see point 1) and that there are channels for lodging official complaints after the game.
  3. Communication: Approximately 55 percent of the information we communicate is transmitted Sports official insurancenon-verbally, which means we use facial expressions, eye contact, gestures and posture.  A fuming coach may not be saying much, but his or her body language is speaking volumes. Officials should be paying attention to the non-verbal messages being relayed by players and coaches before they boil over and become verbally abusive or even physical in nature. Listen with your ears and your eyes.
  4. Emotional control: Conflicts often result in emotional responses that can even draw in people not directly involved in the issue, such as players and spectators. You can’t control how these people will respond to a situation, but you can control your own response. The responsibility of the official is to calmly settle confrontations, not become embroiled in them. This can be difficult when the official is the target of anger and blame. But counting to 10 before responding can go a long way in keeping things from escalating. Barking orders for coaches to calm down or get off the field or deflecting blame onto a fellow referee (“I didn’t make the call.”) erodes everyone’s respect for your authority and only serves to inflame an already tense situation.
  5. Humor: Poking fun at yourself or the general situation can be an excellent way to break up tension and win people over. It might not resolve the actual issue, but humor is is a universal stress reliever. This doesn’t mean laughing at the coaches or making light of a valid conflict, but laughing with the coaches put you on a level playing field and shows that everyone is doing their best in his or her role.

Many of the tense situations referenced above should never occur in the youth or school sports context if coaches and parents follow the various codes of conduct that are published by governing and sanctioning bodies and similar organizations. Also, the suggested techniques can help to diffuse situations before they boil over. However, the reality is that heated disputes often occur in the sports context. A quick study of the loss runs of our sports insurance clients indicate too many fights and resulting serious injuries and lawsuits between officials and coaches or spectators. The alleged aggressor can either be the official or the coach or spectator.

If the alleged aggressor is the official, such official will likely be seeking General Liability and possibly Accident protection through membership in a national association or coverage for officials under the local league policy. Claims may be unexpectedly denied by the General Liability carrier if the Assault & Battery exclusion is present on the policy. For that reason, we recommend that this exclusion be removed.

Sadler Sports Insurance offers affordable, high quality Accident and General Liability coverage for umpire/referee associations. We offer instant online quote/pay/print for this type of coverage. Please visit our website or call us if you have any questions.

Source: Jimm Paull. “Conflict Resolution and the Basketball Official,” Sportorials. January, 2016.

Football Leagues Ignoring Brain Injury Standards…

do so at their own peril

If your youth tackle football league and its directors, officers, and coaches are sued as a result of a brain injury to a current or past participant, under what standard of care will you be judged?

The law of negligence is based on four elements:

  1. Duty is owed to act as reasonable and prudent youth tackle football and cheer administrators and coaches by following the national standard of care regarding to concussion/brain injury protection.
  2. Duty is breached by not following the national standard of care.
  3. The breach is the cause of the injury.
  4. Damages result.

 As regards the standard of care, the courts will look to expert witnesses who will testify that the standards of care are set by the recommendations of the governing body (USA Football), National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS), and state concussion insurance

We have designed a concussion/brain injury risk management program for our American Youth Football and Cheer (AYF) clients that addresses most of the standards that have been set by these organizations and state legislation. See our Football/Cheer Concussion Awareness Risk Management Program (short form) in our risk management library.

If you want to see how standards work in an actual brain injury litigation case, see the synopsis and summary of the pending Chernach vs. Pop Warner lawsuit by a law firm specializing in brain injury litigation. Ask yourself how you think your local association would fare in its legal defense if a similar claim were to be filed? In my opinion, most of the allegations in this lawsuit seem to be without merit, though legal defense costs will be high. Very few of the concussion standards were in place at the time of the alleged injury and the plaintiff was exposed to high school football and 12 years of wrestling in addition to youth tackle football.

However, concussion/brain injury standards are certainly in place now. Ignore the standards at your own peril.

Choosing a Sports Insurance Agent/Broker

Selection criteria for sports organizations

Sports insurance agentA prior blog post explained why sports and recreation organizations shouldn’t follow the traditional insurance bidding process of allowing multiple agents to approach the limited marketplace of insurance carriers and managing general agency (MGA)*. To follow-up on this, below are suggested selection criteria to choose the most qualified agent/broker so that such agent can approach the entire marketplace.

Insurance Agency Qualification Checklist:

  • Special department dedicated to sport and recreation insurance risks
  • Number and names of similar sports/recreation organizations insured
  • Premium volume of similar sports organizations insured
  • Carriers or MGAs represented for each policy type
  • Premium volume and special relationships with each carrier/MGA to be approached
  • Resumes of key servicing staff, including experience in sports/recreation insurance niche
  • Specific staff assigned to service account
  • Claims management services
  • Loss analysis, forecasting, and rate justification services
  • In-house authority to issue certificates of insurance
  • Injury-tracking services and automation
  • Training on employee injury reduction, premises safety, auto safety, special events safety, etc.
  • Special risk management services for sports and recreation organizations
  • Agency license for both Property & Casualty and Life and Accident, & Health for all states of organization’s operations
  • Website services including online enrollment, self-issuance of certificates of insurance, educational articles, risk management reports, forms, articles, programs, etc.

Insurance Agent Qualification Checklist:

  • Resume of insurance agent
  • Number of years of experience in insurance industry
  • Number of years dealing with sports and recreation accounts
  • Title or position within insurance agency
  • Ownership in insurance agency
  • Special training and designations such as CPCU, CIC, etc.
  • Producer license for both Property & Casualty and Life, Accident, & Health for all states of organization’s operations
  • Carriers/MGA’s to be approached for each policy type
  • Names and contact information of similar sports/recreation organization clients for reference check
  • Membership in professional trade organizations in insurance industry
  • Board of director positions or committee assignments on behalf of sports/recreation organizations
  • Publications on insurance and risk management on behalf of sports/recreation organizations
  • Number of proposed client meetings throughout year to review insurance and risk management programs
  • Renewal strategy philosophy
  • Disclosure of commissions and fees earned
  • Attendance at meetings trade shows or speaking engagements on behalf of organization

Carrier/MGA Qualification Checklist:

  • M. Best rating for financial strength
  • Number of years in sports/recreation insurance niche
  • Number of similar sports/recreation insurance clients
  • Premium volume of similar insurance clients
  • Names of similar sports/recreation insurance clients
  • Philosophy on acceptable loss ratios
  • Claims services offered
  • Risk management services offered
  • Licensed in all states where organization operates
  • Other services provided

*An MGA is an insurance organization that provides some of the services that are normally provided by insurance carriers in exchange for a fee. Examples of common MGA services include underwriting, policy issuance, loss control, claims administration, and marketing. The MGA as a middleman does not increase the cost of doing business since they provide services that the insurance carrier would be required to otherwise provide. Therefore, the existence of MGA’s reduces the expenses of the insurance carriers.

Injuries at Gyms and Homes

Thousands suffer in pursuit of fitness

Fitness Instructor Insurance and Health Club Insurance is in high demand due to frequent gym injuries.

According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, the following injury statistics occurred in 2009:

  • 1500 emergency room visits resulting from equipment related
    mishaps in gyms
  • 50,000 emergency room visits from home exercise equipment incidents including treadmill falls, exercise ball falls, elastic stretch band hits to face, and dropping free weights on feet.
  • Treadmills are the number one cause of equipment related injuries with 575 occurrences of falling off and tripping
  • Weight machines and free weights caused 224 injuries.
  • Common gym equipment related injuries include broken ankles,fractured arms, fractured legs, and fingertip amputations.

Fitness instructors cite the following reason for gym/exercise related injuries:

  • Inattention due to Ipods, cell phones, and reading
  • Using equipment for the first time without proper instruction
  • Working out too hard, too soon after a period of inactivity.


Cheerleading Causing Catastrophic Injuries

Regulated or not, cheering poses serious risks

CheerlCheerSquadeading has evolved well past the days of “Rah, rah, rah, GO TEAM” It has quickly become one of the most dangerous sports among young women. According to an article in the Washington Post, cheerleading accounts for more than half of all catastrophic injuries to girl athletes.  We have seen an increased number of squads that are not just cheering for a localsports team, but are in competition for themselves.

Concussions and the serious side effects associated with them are in the news for good reason, but usually associated with football and soccer players. Concussions suffered by cheerleaders apparently aren’t being reported as frequently as those suffered in other sports. This could be a result of the ongoing effort of cheerleaders, coaches and parents to gain respectability for the sport.

Much of the concern for young athletes at risk for concussion goes to the obvious heavy-hitters:  football, soccer, basketball.  But an expert who studies the injury in youth sports say one major activity is being overlooked: cheerleading.

Female athletes may be at even higher risk for suffering a concussion than their male counterparts.  Girls’ neck muscles are generally weaker than boys’, making them more susceptible to dangers that come from rapid acceleration or deceleration, and whiplash.Melissa Dahl,

It is always important to make sure that the participants are well trained, not only in the how to execute stunts, but to do them in ways to protect themselves and their squad members.

We offer cheerleading insurance for teams and cheer school. For more information or a quote, call us at (800) 622-7370.

The Cost of a Sex Abuse/Molestation Incident

The reason behind carrier demands for risk management controls

Youth sports organizations should consider carrying a sufficient sex abuse molestation limit to cover these types of claims, which can evidently reach $1.9 million per claimant and higher – as in the Sandusky case.

Penn State settled with its first claimant for an undisclosed amount but has set aside $60 million to bjerry_sanduskye dispersed among 31 claimants for an average settlement of $1.9 million per claimant. Not including this amount set aside for settlements, Penn State has already spent $50 million on attorney fees, public relations, and other mitigation expenses.

No wonder the insurance carriers that insure youth sports organizations for sex abuse/molestation demand that risk management controls be put in place prior to offering coverage. Not only can the damages per claimant be very high, butdozens of claimants can be victimized by a single predator.

The controls required typically involve the running of criminal background checks on all staff with access to youth, written policies and procedures to make an incident less likely to occur, and having a written incident response plan including a requirement to notify law enforcement.

Sadler Sports and Recreation Insurance provides its clients with a full array of free sex abuse/molestation risk management tools, including training videos and word document templates of written programs that can be adopted by a program. We offer versions ranging from one page to seven pages but all include the essential risk management controls.

Source: First Penn State Abuse Claim Settled, Lawyer Says; August 17, 2013. Associated Press

Stricter Underwriting Guidelines for Colleges

Sandusky scandal prompts carriers to reassess policies

Due to the Penn State scandal over Sandusky and the incidents of sexual abuse/molestation, insurance carriers are now more apt to tighten underwriting and require more information from schools regarding their preventive measures.

“Insurers will require more data from colleges to find out what other programs they may offer. I think insurers will pay more attention to what takes place during summer months, all the camps that take place, what procedures are in place and how schools are monitoring the environment,” said Bill Waldorf, president of a brokerage that offers insurance for schools.

Waldorf also pointed that all higher education facilities have  exposures to children because they provide daycare, childhood learning programs, athletic activities and/or summer camps.

In addition, msexual abuse/molestationany high school students who are either taking advanced placement courses or visiting for recruitment purposes , and other youth on campus for athletic events, concerts, and faith-based programs are all vulnerable.

Most General Liability underwriters in the sports and recreation niche will be looking for the following elements as a precondition for offering sexual abuse/molestation coverage:

  • Criminal background checks on all paid and volunteer staff with access to youth
  • Written policies and procedures to make an incident less likely to occur
  • Written allegation response plan including a requirement to notify law enforcement

Also, many college and university insurance carriers may no longer underwrite camp exposure and may require camps to take out their own General Liability including coverage for sexual abuse and molestation. Here is the link to the Sadler Camp Insurance Program.

We have more information on sexual abuse and molestation risk management in our library.

Source: Insurance Journal, East, 2012/07/19

A Reality Check for Youth Sports Administrators

Learn from the Paterno, Spanier, Curley and McQuery mistakes

This blog post isn’t specifically about the Penn State case and who was or wasn’t fired. Rather it’s a reality check for all involved with youth: no one is invincible. Joe Paterno, Graham Spanier, Tim Curley and Mike McQuery did not commit the physical crimes against children that Jerry Sandusky did.  However, they were responsible and liable for their own actions when there is even a hint that someone is abusing a child.

The Penn State case is making national headlines because of its legendary coach and its football program, but it’s important to understand that such behavior occurs frequently in youth sports.  Most readers of this blog are involved in teams/leagues/youth programs in sYouth sports risk managementome capacity or another. Are you a coach, athletic director, team mom or a parent on the sidelines?  Whatever your position, today is the day to step back and realize where exactly you fit into the lives of the kids participating in your youth sports organization.  You are there to protect them at all costs.

Our previous blog post, Child Predators in Youth Sports, is a must read for anyone who is involved with children. It includes a link to a Sports Illustrated article written with the help of actual predators in youth programs detailing how they got away with their crimes. Did you know that, according to the article, studies have found that the average molester victimizes about 120 children before he is caught? That’s extremely disturbing! The blog post also offers useful risk management guidelines that your organization can implement today. And share this post with others so that we all can make a difference.

Follow this link for more articles on preventing sexual abuse and molestation.

Do Safety Standards Mean More Liability?

Sports organizations weigh their options

Many Sadler sports organization clients struggle with the question of whether or not to set safety or risk management standards. On one hand, they are necessary to protect against spectator and participant injuries. On the other hand, failure to follow your own standard can result in an allegation of negligence and a General Liability claim. This problem is magnified by organizations that rely on volunteer staff and are unable to adequately police the standards that have been set.

What to do? Mandate a standard? Strongly recommend it?

I came across an excellent blog post on Sports Waiver written by attorney Charles “Reb” Gregg on this topic. The author is a proponent of setting reasonable standards and believes that the potential liability for not following a standard is overstated.