Volunteers are compassionate, caring, giving people. Unfortunately, they are also at greater risk of legal problems than others. Volunteer insurance exists, because, despite not receiving monetary compensation, volunteers are exposed to liability. Every activity comes with a level of risk. Without the right protection, volunteers and their organizations may be held responsible.
There are a few ways that volunteers are protected from risk. Federal laws provide some protection, as do individual state laws. Generally, if volunteers act within the proper scope of their duties, possess the right qualifications, and don’t intentionally, deliberately, or carelessly cause harm, they may come out without problems. In practice, our heavily litigious society can put even the most flawless volunteers through the legal wringer.
Individuals, organizations, and even directors or officers of charitable organizations can be sued following injuries, harms, and other incidents. Non-profits can even be sued by their own volunteers!
As an insurance producer, you have the potential to help your clients give back to the world more safely. Volunteer insurance offers an additional layer of protection for individual volunteers, and for the organizations and non-profits for which they volunteer.
Here’s why it matters.
Volunteer Lawsuits and Legal Liability
Lawsuits against volunteers and their parent organizations are nothing new. They can be costly for everyone involved.
a for-profit organization neglected to pay their volunteers. The volunteers alleged that they were treated more like employees than volunteers. Here, the state does not allow for-profit companies to use volunteer service. Ultimately, the organization had to pay the equivalent of the minimum wage to the volunteers. It also had to pay legal fees and additional money to an administrator who dispensed the money. It all added up to a significant sum of $493,227.84.
And cases of sexual abuse in churches and other volunteer-based organizations are moving forward with lawsuits. In this case in Charleston, the parents of an abused child filed suit against both the church and volunteer. The church alleged negligence on the part of the organization.
The City of Santa Monica paid $42.6 million to 24 people who were abused by a former volunteer with the Santa Monica Police Activities League. And the Boy Scouts of America has filed for bankruptcy protection owing to its mounting legal costs from lawsuit defense.
Mistakes and negligence in volunteering can cost a lot of money. For non-profits and similar organizations that often run on shoestring budgets, legal costs can be insurmountable. On top of that, reputation damage is associated with these kinds of suits and settlements. Even if an organization gets through such an ordeal with money left over to continue operating, it may prove difficult to get new volunteers and clients on board.
Volunteer Insurance and Risk Management
Insurance protection for volunteers is one half of the equation. There are a few ways to ensure protection with insurance, so your clients will likely need some help to understand what lines are best for their needs.
Commercial general liability insurance is one option, providing overall coverage. Professional liability insurance can also help. A directors and officers policy can often protect non-profits with a board. And some organizations also require commercial automobile and property insurance to cover volunteers and the organization.
Specific volunteer liability policies are the most convenient. Typically, they are the most comprehensive, especially alongside a volunteer accident policy.
The other half of the battle is risk management. Reducing or removing risk is the best way to ensure that your clients’ coverage is only used when needed. Your clients should think about how their volunteers expose the organization to risk or how, as volunteers, they may be at risk themselves.
Measures like volunteer training, safety procedures, and an avenue for reporting concerns can do a lot to reduce the kinds of incidents that lead to lawsuits. Our insurance comes with the added expertise of risk management specialists, who will work with your clients to understand where their risks come from and what can be done about it.
With strong risk management practices and solid insurance, your clients can enjoy giving back without fear.
For individual volunteers or organizations and non-profits with volunteers, we can do it all. We can cover all kinds of volunteers. To receive a quote, use our direct application here.
Contact Us About Volunteer Insurance for Your Client
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Authored by Rick J. Lindsey, CEO, President, and Chairman of Prime Insurance Company
Rick J. Lindsey hails from Salt Lake City, Utah. He began working in the mailroom of his father’s Salt Lake City insurance firm, getting his introduction to the business that became his lifelong career. Lindsey quickly rose through the ranks while working in nearly every imaginable insurance industry job. As an entrepreneur, specialty lines underwriter, claims specialist, risk manager, and a licensed surplus lines broker, Rick Lindsey is highly skilled in all levels of leadership and execution. As he progressed on his career path, Rick discovered an urgent need for insurers willing to write policies for high-risk individuals and businesses. He was frequently frustrated that he could not provide the liability protection these entities desperately needed to safeguard their assets. He also formed the belief that insurance companies acted too quickly to settle frivolous claims. Lindsey decided to try a different approach. He started an insurance company and became the newly formed entity’s CEO. This opportunity has enabled Rick to fill a void in the market and provide a valuable service to businesses, individuals, and insurance agents who write high-risk business. Prime Insurance also specializes in helping individuals and businesses who live a lifestyle or participate in activities that make them difficult for traditional carriers to insure. If you’ve been denied, non-renewed, or canceled coverage, don’t give up quite yet. Chances are Prime Insurance can help.