Insurance for kayaking instructors, coaches, guides
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What is kayaking?
Kayaking is a popular water sport involving paddles to move over water in a canoe-like boat. Inuit and Aleut tribes in the subarctic regions of Greenland and Alaska crafted kayaks with whatever they could find, such as driftwood and animal bones.
Kayaking likely originates from Greenland, and the word “kayak” derives from the Inuit word meaning “man-boat.” Originally used for hunting and fishing purposes, kayaks are now enjoyed recreationally and competitively.
Although the kayaking community is larger than ever, paddle-sports overall lack standardized guidelines and protocols to ensure participant safety. Organizations such as the American Kayaking Association and American Canoe Association are working to change this — but there is still a long way to go.
What does a kayak instructor do?
Kayaking instructors typically work at outdoor adventure parks or other kayaking businesses. Instructors teach people of all ages who want to learn how to properly and safely operate a kayak. Responsibilities of kayaking instructors include:
- Facilitate kayaking classes
- Teach paddling techniques
- Instruct on best safety practices
- Class preparation and planning
- Supervise and monitor participants at all times
What are the risks of kayaking?
Every sport comes with risks, and kayaking is no exception. General risks and injuries with kayaking include collisions, capsizing, adverse weather conditions, and incorrect use of life vests.
Specific risks for kayaking instructors include:
- Liability due to accidents and injuries of students
- Liability due to accidents and injuries to participants in another kayak
- Damage to the equipment or property of others
There isn’t a single root cause for an accident in many cases. Instead, it is usually a combination of several small mistakes that lead to a bad outcome. So, how can you help mitigate your risk and keep your participants safe?
How to manage risk as a kayaking instructor
Inspect equipment regularly:
As a kayaking instructor, you must monitor your kayaks, paddles, personal flotation devices (PFDs), and other equipment for signs of wear and tear. In addition, many instructors find checklists helpful, so you can go down the list to confirm everything is good to go before and after any activity.
Replace old equipment:
It’s crucial to routinely assess your equipment to see if you need to replace or repair any items. Be sure to keep track of the age of your equipment, paying particular attention to your PFDs — since you need to replace them more often than other types of gear.
Make a plan and backup plan:
Before you head out onto open water with your students, be sure to map out a plan as well as a contingency plan in case of an unexpected bodily injury or change in weather patterns.
Using repetition is critical for kayak instructors, especially regarding safety procedures and protocols. You want to repeat safety-related instructions as much as possible before letting your students in the water.
Double-check helmets and lifevests:
Before starting any kayaking class, be sure to check your students’ helmets and PFDs. Loose-fitting or damaged helmets and life vests are common causes of kayaking injuries.
Bring a first aid kit:
This should go without saying, but be sure to have a well-stocked first-aid kit with you at all times. In particular, the first aid kit should include plenty of bandages, gauze pads, moleskin, latex gloves, cleansing wipes, and ibuprofen.
Bring extra equipment:
Never leave dry land without extra gear such as paddles, PFDs, helmets, and sun safety gear such as sunscreen, hats, etc. Again, you can never be too careful with your kayaking safety measures.
Monitor student health:
It’s your responsibility to watch your students for signs of exhaustion, dehydration, or other medical conditions. Of course, if a participant seems unwell or sluggish, check on them and turn back to dry land to seek medical attention if necessary.
Make adjustments as needed:
As an instructor, you must carefully observe your students and gauge their skill level. If a participant is not catching on as fast as they should, make adjustments to accommodate them. Additionally, bringing a student out on the water before they are ready endangers everyone.
Visit our risk management page for additional tips and tools to help manage your risk as a kayaking instructor.
Why do I need kayaking instructor insurance?
There are many ways to reduce your risk as a kayaking instructor. However, sometimes accidents are unavoidable no matter how much preparation or planning you do. An insurance policy helps transfer some of these inevitable risks to a third party. Ideally, you want to work with a company specializing in sports insurance. A company with knowledge of your industry can tailor a policy to suit your specific needs.
What does kayaking insurance cover?
There are different types of insurance to consider for kayaking guides, instructors, camps, events, outings, and excursions.
Accident insurance, also known as excess accident insurance or participant accident insurance, may help cover the medical expenses if a student sustains an injury during a kayaking lesson. In addition, payouts from accident insurance claims may help offset costs of emergency room care, diagnostic services, and follow-up doctor’s visits.
Accident insurance may help cover the costs of out-of-pocket medical expenses of injured participants. Also, it can potentially reduce the likelihood of having to pay damages to a student or parent filing a lawsuit against you.
General liability is essential coverage for those in the sports industry, including kayaking instructors. This type of coverage helps protect you from common claims, such as:
- Claims resulting from participant and spectator injuries due to a lack of routine maintenance of equipment or slips and falls.
- Claims resulting from an accident or injury that causes the death or disability of a participant or spectator.
You can bulk up your policy with optional insurance riders. For example, you can add coverage for claims related to sex abuse and molestation and non-owned and hired auto liability — since these are typically not included in most base policies.
Kayaking insurance may also include coverage for lost, stolen, or damaged equipment. Covered equipment may consist of gear (life vests, helmets, uniforms, etc.), kayaks, paddles, and docks.
When comparing equipment insurance, be sure to consider whether you want “replacement cost” or “actual cash value” coverage.
A policy that offers full replacement cost means you may be able to buy a brand new piece of equipment. On the other hand, actual cash value policies provide more limited coverage — typically the value of the equipment on the used marketplace.
How can you get insurance for kayaking?
At Sadler & Company, we specialize in creative insurance solutions for the sports and recreation industry. We believe in finding you the best coverage possible, which is why we maintain close working relationships with all the big players in the sports insurance arena. With this in mind, if we can’t find a suitable in-house solution, we’ll set you up with a policy from one of our trusted partners.
Kayaking insurance is a vital financial tool to help prevent unexpected financial losses resulting from accidents, lawsuits, and damages. So grab your paddle (and one of our policies) and head into the water with greater peace of mind.
Start protecting yourself today with Sadler & Company. Our simple application process only takes a few minutes to complete, and you will receive a personalized quote!