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.
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