Archive for the ‘Risk Management’ Category

Swimming outings source of liability claims

Safety first at team pool parties

The swimming outing in a coach’s backyard or at a motel pool during a tournament is commonly the source of drowning or near-drowning incidents.

Drowning among youth baseball and softball players seems to be a prevalent problem in youth sports leagues. Of course, this is not isolated to just the baseball/softball arena, but more common most likely because of spring and summer activity.

An 8-year-old boy nearly drowned during his football team pool party in Arizona. His parents were in attendance but distracted for just long enough. Fortunately, the child was rescued by another alert parent.  Unfortunately, most cases that we read about do not have such happy endings.

Sport-related injuriesVigilance is the key

Drowning is the second highest cause of accidental death in children under the age of 15, according to the Center for Disease Control.. Approximately 750 children will drown next year, 375 of whom will be within 25 yards of an adult.

Accidents cannot always be prevented. It’s critical, however, to be vigilant when dealing with children in youth sports organizations. Most of the time, not every one of the children has a parent or guardian with them, especially when the team travels.  These parents trust that the coaches and volunteers that they leave their children with will be monitoring their safety and bringing them back home in one piece.

Steps toward prevention

Simple precautions can be taken to lessen the risk of drowning.

  • Participation requires passing a swim test.

  • Instill in team members “the buddy system” so they’re accountable for each other.

  • Have at least one CPR-trained adult in attendance.

  • Prohibit alcohol consumption by adults at all youth parties.

  • Adults should not be involved in any distracting activity (such as grilling, reading, talking on phone)

  • Hire a certified lifeguard and require them to provide proof of adequate General Liability insurance.

The avoidance alternative

A number of Sadler Sports insurance clients have been sued for drowning or near drowning incidents resulting in very costly settlements. I’ve personally witnessed a number of incidents around pools where parents get caught up in conversations and lose their concentration for just a split second, and that’s all it takes.

In my opinion, the risks of serious injury and resulting lawsuits are so significant with swimming parties that such activities should be avoided as their risks outweigh their benefits. Avoidance of high risk activities is sports risk management 101 and I put swimming parties right up there with the use of 15 passenger vans (tip-over risks) and sleepovers (sex abuse and molestation risk).

You can find further information on pool safety on the American Red Cross website. If you have questions, please contact us.

New Technology Enhances Event Security

Game Changers

We all know about game changers. Sometimes it’s a certain player, a momentum swing, the venue or fans, and other times it’s an event that makes us stop and rethink our views on one particular topic or another. The bombings at this year’s Boston Marathon qualify as a game changer.

It’s often a catastrophe that makes us re-evaluate our priorities. In the case of the Boston Bombings, we have been forced to address our personal safety and the safety of participants at sporting events.

Increasing event security

In attempts to strengthen event security at its football games, the NFL recently banned spectators from bringing in purses, coolers, backpacks and other miscellany. Some view this as overkill, while others view it as the natural evolution in the continual ramp up of security measures in a volatile setting.

The tech revolution

The technology boom is also helping to strengthen event security. While closed-circuit television is still the industry’s main method, it is the use of cellphones that has been most beneficial in enforcing safety regulations at sporting events, and not just among event staff. Many venues advertise a number for spectators to text or call if other patrons become unruly or are acting suspicious. And did you know there are apps available for reporting security issues? Fans may now anonymously submit complaints/observations using ISS 24/7 (or other) software. Game changer!

In addition to security hotlines, social media has helped to police patrons at sporting events. People love Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Many sports teams and event management companies have learned to use these tools to their advantage. They post on their accounts to spread the word of inclement weather, evacuation notices and other pertinent information.

Smartphones are good for more than just checking your Twitter feed. They are also important in documenting fan behavior at games, both good and bad.  In a world where anyone can be famous on the Internet, staying on your best behavior can mean the difference between YouTube fame and infamy.

Source: Kelly Martin,  “Safety and Security: Changing your game for the better,” Sports Destination Management. Sept./Oct. 2013.

Insurance Requirements for Rec Facility Users

Reduce liability exposure with proper collection of certificates of insurance

Facility user groups such as teams, leagues, tournament hosts, camps, instructors, and special event operators must carry adequate insurance. In addition to providing the proper coverage, Sadler Sports Insurance can assist you in reducing your liability by:

    • setting minimum insurance limits and coverage standards that adequately protect the recreation department
    • providing a simple free checklist tool to assist in verifying insurance compliance
    • referring uninsured facility users to a specific web page where they can get an instant quote,  instantly pay, and bind coverage  without any delays or hassles. Their delays and hassles become your delays and hassles.
    • setting your recreation department up in our system so that the certificates of insurance meet your special wording requirements every time, which cuts down on your frustration over certificates that don’t meet your requirements.

The video below walks you through the process in more detail.

Lease of Premises Agreements

Something all sports and recreation organizations should review

Most sports and recreation associations lease office space. Lease agreements contain numerous insurance and risk management considerations that must be addressed up front before entering into the lease or reviewed after the fact if the lease has already been entered into. It’s customary for the landlord to require the tenant to carry the following types of insurance policies to protect the interests of the landlord:

  • General Liability in the amount of $1,000,000 combined single limits to protect against bodily injury, property damage, personal injury, advertising injury, and damage to premises of others in the amount of $300,000. It’s usually required that the landlord be named as an additional insured.
  • Property insurance may be required to protect the replacement cost value of tenant’s improvements, contents, and sometimes building (in the event of a net lease) under the “special perils” coverage form. On occasion, it is required that earthquake and flood insurance be carried. Also, the tenant may be required to insure the glass against breakage and the heating, air conditioning, electrical, and plumbing systems against mechanical breakdown. If this is the case, the Property policy of the tenant must be endorsed to specifically provide coverage for glass and mechanical breakdown.

In the spirit of efficiency and reciprocity, most well-written leases should contain a waiver of subrogation clause. This means that both parties agree that if their property insurance company pays the claim, that the insurance company will waive its subrogation (or lawsuit) rights against the other party in order to recoup the loss. Sadler & Company can provide the sample wording for this provision.

Most well-written leases will also contain an indemnification/hold harmless provision whereby each of the parties agrees to assume the liability and legal defense cost of the other party for lawsuits arising out of each party’s own negligence. In many cases, since the landlord is the party in power, this provision is often heavy-handed in their favor and should be negotiated on a more reasonable basis.

So why should you care if your lease contains insurance requirements that you’re not meeting or unreasonable contractual liability assumptions through hold-harmless/indemnification agreements? These considerations don’t matter  – until a problem arises. And then it’s too late to do anything about them.

Within minutes, Sadler & Sports Recreation insurance can review your lease agreement and make recommendations based upon your unique situation. If you are interested in a no-obligation review, please call us at 800-622-7370.

Treating Heat Stress in Athletes

Delay could be fatal

During preseason football practice, numerous athletes fall victim to heat exhaustion and heat stroke, and some will even die. Most cases can be prevented through coach, parent, and player education and by following established guidelines.

These guidelines include preseason physicals or medical clearance, proper hydration, heat acclimatization, equipment modification, activity modification, postponement/cancellation based upon wet bulb temperature index, and recognition/treatment. I was recently reading one of my favorite sports risk management publications, From Gym to Jury, and came across an excellent article that you can read by clicking on the link below.

Source: Frederick Mueller, “Heat Stress and Athletic Participation, From Gym to Jury, Vol. 24, No 2.

Set Up a Sex Abuse/Molestation Protection Program (Infographic)

Create a Hostile Environment

Whenever a sexual abuse/molestation (SAM) incident occurs, a civil lawsuit will likely be filed not only against the alleged perpetrator, but the organization, officers, board and others for failure to adequately screen staff, failure to implement policies and procedures to prevent an incident, and failure to appropriately respond to an allegation. Most insurance carriers that write SAM coverage on sports organizations won’t offer the coverage unless the organization has implemented certain controls that impact these areas.

Most sports and recreation organizations rely exclusively on running criminal background checks on all staff with access to youth. While this is required by case law and is a minimum level of due diligence, the effectiveness of solely relying on criminal background checks is questionable. This is because studies indicate that only about 5% of all predators have a criminal background that could even be discoverable upon running a background check. Therefore, the question becomes what is your sports organization doing to protect against the other 95%?

What it should be doing is educating administrators and staff to create a hostile environment for predators, implementing simple policies and procedures, and implementing an allegation response plan that requires notification of law enforcement.

 

[sc:InfoGraphic imagealt=”SAM” imageurl=”https://www.sadlersports.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/SAM-Risk-Managment.jpg” imagewidth=”600″ imageheight=”1733″ permalink=”https://www.sadlersports.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/SAM-Risk-Managment.jpg” infographictitle=”SAM” ]

Many sports organizations get into SAM risk management by just shooting from the hip and running background checks without putting much thought into the entire process and what can go wrong along the way. Below are potential risks organizations expose themselves to when no proper SAM risk management program is in place:

  • Slander, libel, and invasion of privacy lawsuits against the organization if background check results are not kept confidential.
  • Illegal questions on staff application form and consent to run background check form.
  • Unequal treatment of different candidates and resulting litigation due to lack of predetermined, written disqualification criteria.
  • Failure to properly understand the nature of a conviction on a criminal background check and misclassification of the offense.
  • Failure to comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act and other similar laws.
  • Failure to have written policies and procedures in place to make an incident less likely to occur.
  • Failure to have allegation response procedures in place, including a requirement to notify law enforcement.

Sex Abuse/Molestation Risk Management Program

We recommend that a sports organization implement our written Sex Abuse/Molestation Risk Management Program which provides important administrator and staff education on the topic and protects against the above mentioned pitfalls. This program is available as a Microsoft Word document format (7 pages) entitled Sample Abuse/Molestation Plan that can be easily customized for a specific sports organization.  Current Sadler clients should access the latest and most up-to-date version of this document under the password protected section after entering the password  provided with their proof of coverage email upon binding of coverage. On the other hand, sports organizations that are not current Sadler clients should access this document under the unrestricted access section of the webpage available to general public.

However, we realize that some sports organizations may not want to adopt and implement our recommended SAM risk management program even though it is incredibly simple and we have already done just about all the work on their behalf. For these organizations, we offer a 1-page SAM risk management program that provides a basic educational program for administrators and staff. It includes written policies and procedures to make an incident less likely to occur and provides instructions on how to appropriately respond to an allegation. This 1-page SAM program can be found in our risk management library  under the document entitled Child Abuse/Molestation Protection Program – Administrators (short form).

Educational videos

In addition, we offer the following free educational training videos to our clients, which can be found under the password protected section of our risk management page:

  • How To Implement An Abuse/Molestation Risk Management Program – Administrators (14 minutes)
  • Abuse/Molestation Awareness Training – Administrators and Staff (28 minutes)

Protecting your league from injury claims

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

Purchasing the ight insurance coverage does not have to be complicated. The SADLER insurance experts understand your needs and the unique risks associated with your organization. Learn more about liability prevention by calling us at 800-622-7370, or apply for a customized insurance quote online now. There are absolutely no obligations, and most quotes will be sent in just a few hours. With no application fees and the most competitive rates in the industry, what have you got to lose?

 

Youth Football Concussions During Practice

Results of study surprise many

In a prior blog on concussion rule changes, we stated that the new Pop Warner Football concussion rule to limit contact in practice would have a limited effect as only 28 percent of all youth football concussions occur in practice according to American Youth Football (AYF) injury statistics.

Now, a new study by the University Of Pittsburgh and University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and funded by the NFL has drawn a similar but more compelling conclusion. The study found that youth tackle football players aged 8 to 12 were at a low risk of suffering a concussion in practice.  (.024 incidences per 1000 exposures), but that the risk was 26 times higher in games (6.16 incidences per 1000 exposures).

“This finding suggests that reducing contact-practice exposures in youth football, which some leagues have done recently, will likely have little effect on reducing concussion risk, as few concussions actually occur in practice. Instead of reducing contact-practice time, youth football leagues should focus on awareness and education about concussions,” said Anthony Kontos, an associate professor at UPMC.

Many experts agree that practice time should focus on proper tackling techniques and instruction instead of head contact.

Leaning on science, not the media

These recommendations are exactly what AYF has been preaching. We recommend against knee jerk reactions to the media frenzy on the concussion issue.  Making hasty safety rule decisions that are not backed by science isn’t a wise move. Instead, wait on the results from the ongoing scientific studies.  In the meantime, focus on educating coaches on recognizing the signs and symptoms of concussions, concussed player removal and medical treatment, and return-to-play protocol. In addition, concentrate on proper tackling technique.

AYF has included concussion awareness training in its coach certification program.

More interesting statistics from the study

The incident rate of concussions in practice and games combined is three times higher in the 11 to 12-year-old age category as compared to 8 to 10-year-old age category.  Just as the AYF injury studies have revealed, there is a direct correlation between age and injuries in youth tackle football. The older athletes are stronger, faster, and more coordinated, hitting with harder force. See our prior blog on the issue of age only vs age/weight categories.

Player in the “skill positions of  quarterback, running back, and linebacker make up 95 percent of youth football concussions.


Source: “Study: Kids Get Fewer Concussions In Practices Than In Games.” www.footballcoachdaily.com. June 6, 2013.

American Youth Football and American Youth Cheer Insurance

The Gold Standard

The risky world of youth tackle and cheer

In the high risk world of youth tackle football, flag, & cheer, risk is everywhere in the form of concussions, spinal injuries, cheer stunts, sex abuse and molestation, lack of supervision, lack of instruction, premises problems, equipment problems, etc. In this world, administrators and staff (volunteer and paid) are putting their personal assets on the chopping block every day should an unfortunate mishap occur and result in a lawsuit. This is especially true if the insurance that was purchased to protect against this risk is inadequate.

Competitors often offer inadequate coverage to AYF/AYC

What is inadequate insurance? It could be that the limits are not high enough, but the more common situation occurs when the coverage within the limits includes unacceptable coverage exclusions or loopholes. And these unacceptable coverage exclusions are much more common than you may think, and can even exist if the program is another national association program. Sadler Sports Insurance has fought the battle against these unacceptable exclusions for many years by both educating the public and our competitors. We bring a problem area to the attention of our clients and offer a custom solution Then, within the next year or two, our competitors adopt it and act like it was their idea all along.

But competitors who merely attempt to copy the industry leader are not innovators and will always lag behind.

As for inadequate limits, many organizations no longer feel comfortable with an Each Occurrence Limit of only $1 million. After all, youth tackle football and cheer is more risky compared to some other popular sports. Therefore, an Each Occurrence limit of $2 million or $5 million should be strongly considered. The Each Occurrence limit applies to the amount that is available to respond to any single lawsuit.

The General Aggregate limit is a whole different issue. The General Aggregate is the amount that is available to respond to multiple lawsuits during the policy year. Many competitors offer a General Liability Each Occurrence Limit of $1 million and a General Aggregate limit of $2 million. A General Aggregate limit of at least $5 million may be necessary in the event that multiple lawsuits are filed during the same policy year. One recent concern in this area is the possibility of class action lawsuits by players over brain damage caused by sub-concussive impacts YOUTH FOOTBALL(CTE) from helmet-to-helmet hits. The jury is still very much out on this issue and hopefully such talk is just media hype. However, the possibility does exist.

AYF is leading the way with coach training in the area of concussions and the endorsed insurance program is structured in such a way as to offer superior protection to that of most competing programs.

Examples of common unacceptable exclusions under a General Liability policy include but are not limited to:

  • volunteer vs volunteer
  • participant vs participant
  • player vs player
  • cheer stunts and pyramiding
  • bleacher collapse
  • contractual liability limitation
  • sexual abuse and molestation
  • warranty of waiver/release, warranty of concussion training
  • punitive damages
  • assault and battery
  • athletic participant

We provide a checklist that can be used to analyze a competitor’s program against the AYF/AYC endorsed program, which is especially instructive in terms of revealing unacceptable exclusions.  Sadler Sports Insurance would be glad to assist in the comparison process if you can provide a copy of the competitor’s actual policy forms (Accident and General Liability). Unfortunately, you really don’t know much if you are relying on a competitor’s certificate of insurance or proposal as those documents are not required to include information on the policy exclusions.

Beware of competitor claims that seem too good to be true

A certain amount of self promotion and puffery is expected when advertising any product or service. However, some competitors may claim to have the best and lowest priced insurance product in the market as an attention grabber but that may not be the case after the dust settles. Whenever a claim or offer sounds too good to be true, it always is too good to be true in my experience. The incredible, attractive offer usually does not hold up due to the following reasons:Football Cheerleader

  1. The coverage is not comparable in terms of policies offered (Accident policy not included in price), policy limits are too low, or it includes unacceptable exclusions from coverage.
  2. The initial quote provided ends up being much lower than the final proposal because it was based on a suppressed number of teams or participants. In the meantime, you have wasted hours of time in providing information just to get the final proposal.

Other advantages of the endorsed AYF/AYC insurance program

Only the endorsed AYF/AYC program offers an instant online proposal, payment, binding of coverage, and issuance of proof of coverage documents and certificates of insurance for field owners in real time. This entire process can take days or weeks with our competitors and can be very frustrating when not having a certificate of insurance is keeping you off the practice field.

All of the Accident claims data from the endorsed program is compiled in a special software program that crunches the numbers in a way to produce meaningful information about how injuries can be prevented and how the game can be modified, if necessary, to promote safety. This data has already been used to illustrate that age only divisions in youth tackle football are no more risky than age/weight divisions. When you participate in the endorsed program, your loss data is used in a meaningful way to improve the safety of the game.

We offer free best-in-industry risk management content including articles, forms, risk management program templates, and training videos on general safety and sex abuse/molestation protection in the risk management section of our website.

The AYF/AYC endorsed insurance program is the industry leader and offers the best protection now and in the future for the players, volunteers, administrators, and youth football industry.

Sadler Interviewed in Rough Notes Magazine

Sadler Insurance president sought for insight on amateur athletics risks

John Sadler was interviewed and widely quoted in the April 2013 edition of the insurance trade industry publication, Rough Notes. In an article entitled “Knowledge To Win In Amateur Athletics”, Sadler was quoted on a variety of topics as follows:

  • The increased risks of travel teams over recreational teams in terms of more intense competition, auto IMG_3490exposure from frequent travel, and motel downtime incidents such as drownings and near drownings.
  • Increased prevalence of individual sports instructors looking for General Liability and Professional Liability Coverage.
  • Carriers taking the sex abuse and molestation risk more seriously in wake of the Sandusky scandal by mandating risk management that goes beyond the passing of a criminal background check. Examples include the adoption of written policies and procedures such as the use of a buddy system where a single adult is never alone with a single unrelated child and an incident response plan that requires notification of law enforcement.
  • New carrier fears over concussion exposures and the imposing of Participant Legal Liability policy aggregates for larger associations that will cap total losses in a single policy year.
  • The new emerging cyber threats of hacker access to confidential information and media liability arising out of the posting of defamatory content on sports organization websites and social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
  • The need for coach Professional Liability coverage for those frivolous lawsuits in which coaches are sued for benching an athlete or improper coaching that allegedly results in loss of a college scholarship or pro career.

Source: Knowledge To Win In Amateur Athletics; Rough Notes, April 2013

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