Archive for the ‘General Liability’ Category

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.

Cheer Gym vs. Competition Cheer Squad Insurance

What’s the difference?

Cheerleading is no longer simply a group of girls jumping and yelling along the sidelines of a ball game. It’s a performance sport that has exploded with nationally televised cheer competitions and even big screen movies about cheerleading. This expansion has led to competition cheer squads that go head-to-head for recreation and cheer gyms that are in the businesses of teaching cheerleading and building cheerleading groups for major competitions.

A point of confusion that we encounter when reviewing cheer insurance applications is whether the group is a competition cheer squad or a cheer gym. It is vitally important that the correct insurance coverage is written for the organization and their specific exposures.

Making the determination

Six questions that we always have to ask are:

  1. Are membership dues paid monthly, quarterly, once per season, etc.?
  2. Is the organization’s facility owned, a long term lease, private, etc.?
  3. Is the organization cheering for one team or a competition squad?
  4. How are the coaches compensated?
  5. Is the organization a 501c3 non-profit?
  6. Does a board of directors oversee and run the organization?

We understand that not all applicants fall clearly into a competition squad or cheer gym category, but these questions allow us to make an educated assessment of the needs of the organization and provide the correct cheer insurance coverages.

A cheer squad typically pays fees once per season, uses school/local facilities, cheers as a squad for sporting teams, and is coached by volunteers. A cheer gym usually pays monthly dues, owns or has a long-term lease for a facility, cheers stCheerleadersBluerictly in competitions and pays coaches a salary.

The factors few people take into consideration

There is a difference in premium cheer squad and cheer gym insurance premiums for good reason. The typical cheer squad is exposed to participant and coach injuries. Coverage is provided for the cheer squad itself as well as for the volunteers. Cheer gyms have a much greater risk of exposure than a cheer squad. The following points are taken into account when determining exposures of cheer gyms:

  • The operation or long-term use of a facility creates a property exposure for anyone that comes onto the property and sustains a premises-related injury.
  • Some cheer gyms provide extra services, such as private lessons, birthday parties, after school programs and/or soft play areas.
  • Being run as a business means the coaches of cheer gyms are considered experts in the sport of cheerleading. This increases the standard of care owed to the participants and the bodily injury liability exposure.
  • A professional liability exposure may result if the participant of a cheer gym sues over not being offered a college scholarship, or other expected benefits due to improper coaching.

Being under insured is just as risky as being uninsured. The cheer gym owner/trainer can lose personal assets, future earnings and even their business in the event a lawsuit arises and the correct coverage isn’t in force. No cheer gym owner should take the risk of losing everything in the event of a devastating injury resulting in lawsuit in order to save a few dollars on premium.

Please visit our website for more information on Cheer School & Cheer Gym Insurance and Cheer Squad Insurance.

 

The Gamble of Being Underinsured

The risks can be catastrophic

Being 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:

  • “We’ve never experienced a serious injury or lawsuit.”  The fact is that sports lawsuits tend to be infrequent but have a high potential for severity in terms of potential damages owed. Some sports organizations may go over five years without a serious incident, but it’s just a matter of time.
  •  “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 ruGambling diceles/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.

 

Frivolous Lawsuits in Sports

It could happen to you

Frivolous lawsuits take place all the time and the world of sports is by no means immune.  We get calls from people who want information on insurance because they are required to have it, not because they want it. Wear hear these comments all the time:

  • “We’ve never had a claim.”
  • “It wouldn’t happen to us, everyone likes our league.”
  • “We make everyone provide their own insurance, so we’re not responsible.”

Wow! Simply WOW!  These days, it’s no longer a question of if you’ll get sued, it’s WHEN you’ll get sued.   And asFrivolous Lawsuit2 often as not, it’s not what you did or didn’t do. It’s what someone perceives that you did or didn’t do that that can land you or your organization at the defendant’s table in a courtroom.   If you are involved in any capacity, whether as a coach, administrator, player, or volunteer, there is no other option than to make sure that your organization has coverage to pay in case you need the defense.

Below are just a few examples of  lawsuits that will make you make you say, “Hmm?”

  • Rodney Carroll, coach of the 16 & under Brunswick (Ohio) Cobras baseball team, was sued for $2000 by the father of his catcher after a 0-15 season in 1999. The grounds? Crummy coaching
  • Jason Abbitt sued the Vallejo (California) Babe Ruth Baseball League for 80 percent of his signup fee in 2002 because he only played in 20 percent of the games.  He sought $65, or $65 for every hit he had that season.

And these two stories were featured in Liable to Laugh 2004 (American Specialty Companies):

The parents of players on opposing teams became involved in a fistfight during a youth soccer game. The loser of the fight (who also was the aggressor) filed suit against his opponent and the soccer league because of his moderately severe injuries.  He alleged that the soccer league was negligent because it failed to control his behavior when they realized, or should have realized, that he was out of control. The soccer league, by the way, was for 5- and 6-year-old girls.

A child was playing in the outfield in a youth baseball league when he missed a fly ball that struck him in the face, causing facial fractures.  The parents sued the league and the coach, claiming that they knew or should have known that the claimant had sight problems and, therefore, should not have been allowed to play in the outfield.

And then there are the crazy claims that never make it to the court room, such as the woman who tried to file a claim because, as she was driving by a youth baseball field,  a baseball flew over the fence and through her back window hitting her bird cage  and releasing her prized pet.

Is a League Liable for Faulty Sports Equipment?

Concerns regarding older equipment

We received a phone call from a youth lacrosse club coach who was concerned about the use of 20-year-old helmets that haven’t been reconditioned or re-certified. He wanted to know if he could be liable in the event of a head injury to a player since it his responsibility to verify to the referee prior to the game that all equipment is in safe operating condition. He also wanted to know if his General Liability policy would cover any potential lawsuit.

 The short answer is that league administrators and coaches are responsible for the following aspects of equipment safety:
  • Long-range planning for the repair, refurbishment, and replacement of helmets. These decisions need to be made far in advance as they can take time to budget and complete.
  • Confirming helmets meet current National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) requirements, as well as the requirements of the sports governing body.
  • Helmets should be inspected for defects in post season, pre season, weekly, and prior to any game or practice.
  • Maintaining repairing, and conditioning equipment on a regular basis.
  • Reconditioning to “like new” basis of safety equipment such as helmets should be performed by a reputable reconditioning business as opposed to an on staff trainer. NOCSAE may require re-certification.
  • Replacing helmets on a periodic basis per manufacturers recommendations.
  • Record keeping for documentation purposes on all of the above.Lacrosse equipment
There is no doubt that many of the above outlined principles may have been violated and the coach is justified in his concerns about liability.
 
General Liability policies generally don’t have an exclusion for lawsuits arising from of injuries due to failure to follow proper equipment safety protocol as outlined above. Therefore, coverage is likely to exist under most policies. However, a minority of policies may have a punitive damages exclusion. Willful disregard of known safety protocol could result in punitive damages. In addition, any litigation, even if covered by General Liability insurance, results in a black eye for the program and pretrial discovery and litigation is an emotional drain on league administrators and coaches.
 
For a more detailed resource on Equipment Safety, see our Risk Management Program for Sports Organizations

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.

Minimum 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 checkChecklistlists, 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 2017, Sadler & Company, Inc. All rights reserved.

 

Food Safety in Concessions (Infographic)

Are you cooking up trouble?

Ants, bees, flies, rain, or wind can be annoying when enjoying a hot dog and soda at the ballpark. However, all of those pale in comparison to food poisoning, another outdoor food risk!

Indoor and outdoor sports organizations face liability risks from food poisoning incidents resulting from improper food handling at concession stands. These incidents should be covered by General Liability insurance. However, preventing such risks is preferable. Here are some tips for reducing the risk.

Management and purchases

• Concession stands must adhere to all local food licensing and permit laws and regulations.

• All concession workers should receive training in proper food handling by management.

• Only purchase food from reputable, good-quality sources.

• Do not purchase or serve any food past the expiration date.

• Avoid serving food prepared at home, other than baked goods.

Food Safety

Want to display this Infographic on your own site? Just copy and paste the code below into your blog post or web page:

Food Handlers

• All concession workers must wash hands with soap and warm water after potential contamination events. These include but are not limited to using the restroom, sneezing or coughing,  touching counters and garbage cans, dumping garbage, touching cash register and money, and touching your face, mouth or hair

• Use of gloves and hand sanitizers offer hand additional protection, but are not a substitute for frequent hand washings.

• Food handlers be symptom-free of illness (coughing, sneezing or sniffling, fever, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea) or open wounds when handling food.

• Food handlers must use appropriate utensils, gloves, or deli paper when handling food.

Insects and Vermin

• Store all food off the floor.

• All food should be covered and spills/drips continually wiped down to discourage insects.

• Keep trash cans covered at all times?? with tight-fitting lids.

 Refrigeration

• Foods requiring refrigeration to be held at 40° F or lower until being served.

• Keep a thermometer in your refrigerator/freezer to ensure fridge is maintained a 40°F and freezer at 0°F.

• Perishable food should not sit out of refrigerator longer than two hours.

Sanitation

• Disposable utensils and paper products should be used to reduce cleaning and contamination.

• Do not wash or reuse disposable products.

• Sanitize and wipe down all food preparation surfaces and concession equipment frequently.

• Do not overfill garbage cans, and empty them frequently.

For more detailed food handling information, you can download our food risk management report.

Protecting your organization from liability claims

Did you know that liability protection is critical for all sports and recreation organizations? It only takes one injury-related lawsuit to financially ruin your organization. Having the right sports and recreations insurance protection offers you peace of mind.

Finding the right insurance coverage doesn’t have to be difficult. We at SADLER understand the specific needs and unique risks associated with your sports or recreation organization.

If you would like to learn more about liability prevention or are ready to get a customized insurance quote, you can apply online now or call us at 800-622-7370.

There are no obligations and most quotes are sent in just a few hours. With no application fees and the most competitive rates in the industry, what have you got to lose?

 Sources:
  • Stadium Foods Present Unique Food Safety Risks: Part 1 And Part II; April 19, 2010; Richard J. Arsenault.
  • Food Safety Hints for Non-Profit Organizations and Schools; Fort Wayne-Allen County Department Of Health; Ft. Wayne, Indiana.
  • A Quick Consumer Guide to Safe Food Handling; University Of Minnesota; Feb. 4, 2009; Parts Adapted from Your Safe Food Handbook, USDA, Feb. 2008.

Sport injuries off the field

The Independent Contractor or Subcontractor Limitation

Services such as concessions umpires, security, field maintenance and janitorial are typically outsourced by sport and recreation organizations as independent contractors or subcontractors.

The Independent Contractor or Subcontractor Limitation endorsement on a General Liability policy can have adverse consequences for sports and recreation organizations.

Don’t play around with independent contractors

The negligent actions of these independent contractors or subcontractors can result in the sports organization being shot gunned into a lawsuit.

The Independent Contractor or Subcontractor Limitation endorsement will preclude coverage unless the independent contractor or subcontractor maintains a General Liability policy at the time of injury, with limits equal to the sports organization while naming such sports organization as “Additional Insured.”

Protecting the organization

It is highly recommended that sports organizations require all independent contractors and subcontractors to provide evidence of General Liability insurance with limits of at least $1,000,000 combined single limits. Such policies should name the sports organization as “additional insured.”

However, General Liability coverage of the sports organization being contingent on the insurance requirement of the independent contractor or subcontractor is a risky proposition.  If the sports organization is diligent about administrative duties, an uninsured independent contractor or subcontractor could easily slip between the cracks.  In addition, a certificate of insurance is only an indication of coverage status as of the date of its issuance. Coverage could later be canceled due to nonpayment of premium with no absolute notification requirement to certificate holders.

For the reasons outlined above, it is not acceptable to allow the existence of the Independent Contractor and Subcontractor Limitation endorsement on the General Liability policy for a sports organization.

Source:  John Sadler

Assault and Battery Exclusion in Sports

Employees and volunteers vulnerable

 

Some sports General Liability policies have an endorsement entitled Assault and Battery Exclusion that modifies the terms of the original policy language.

 

The standard policy form (without the Assault And Battery Exclusion) contains an intentional injury exclusion that includes an exception for the use of reasonable force to protect persons or property.

 

The Assault and Battery Exclusion takes away coverage for any assault and battery incident committed by your employees, volunteers, or any other person.  In addition, coverage is excluded for failure to suppress or prevent an incident as well as for negligent hiring, supervision, or training.

 

Based on some of the claims filed against our team and league clients over the years, the Assault and Battery Exclusion would have had unacceptable coverage consequences had it been in existence.

 

We have seen several lawsuits alleging assault and battery resulting from a coach attempting to break up a fight.  In one incident, a coach broke up a fight by pulling one 8-year-old boy off of another.  The lawsuit alleging assault and battery claimed that the coach injured the boy that he pulled off the top of the other boy.

 

We have also seen a number of other lawsuits against leagues, volunteers, and administrators arising out of fights between coaches, umpires, and spectators.  In many cases, the coaches and umpires are actually the physical aggressors against spectators.In some of these cases, the plaintiff’s attorney ran a background check and found that the defendant had a criminal background involving a crime of physical violence.  As a result, the sports organization and its board were shot gunned into the lawsuit under the theory of negligent hiring.

 

The above common examples would likely trigger the Assault And Battery exclusion resulting in no insurance coverage and the possible taking of both assets of the sports organization as well as personal assets of the individual defendants to satisfy the judgment.

 

In my opinion, the Assault and Battery Exclusion should be removed from a sports or recreation General Liability policy.

 

Source:  John Sadler

Photo credit: Guiseppe Barranco/The Enterprise

National Parks Service Backs Down Again

Government agency drops whitewater insurance requirements

We reported in our prior blog posting, New National Parks Outfitters & Guides Requirements , that the U.S. National Parks Service increased the General Liability insurance limit requirements for rafting companies in Grand Teton National Park from $500,000 to $5 million. However, due to an outcry from industry participants, the National Parks Service later backed off this position and dropped the required limits to $2 million.

Now, a similar outcry from small outfitters, guides and insurance experts has caused the National Parks Service to suspend its plans to increase the aggregate liability insurance limit to $5 million for whitewater boating outfitters in Dinosaur National Monument. It also backed off the requirement to carry pollution coverage. In protest, Whitewater outfitters and guides claimed that the higher limits would raise premiums by 60 to 80% and that pollution coverage was not warranted.

Source: Park Service Backs Off Recreation Insurance Hikes in Colorado