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 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.