You are a volunteer soccer coach, a 4-H advisor, a chamber of commerce committee member, on the church board, or you helped raise contributions for the last United Way campaign.  Perhaps you have volunteered hundreds of hours this year without a thought of insurance coverage. If someone is injured, who pays for any legal action brought against you in these volunteer activities?  If you serve as a board member and are sued for breach of duty, imprudent investments, discrimination in hiring or wrongful termination, are you covered? To answer these questions, there are two places to check: your home insurance and the organization's insurance.  Let's look at them: 

Your homeowners insurance policy gives you liability protection for bodily injury and property damage to others in non-business activities, like a child who is injured when you are the volunteer soccer coach or 4-H advisor.  On the other hand, no protection is provided if your volunteer activity is related to a business (chamber volunteer, union, trade or professional association representative, etc.) or if you receive any compensation.  Any legal action other than bodily injury and property damage is not covered (an exception: some homeowners policies cover personal injury --- libel, slander, false arrest, false imprisonment, etc.). 

Also check for coverage under the organization's policy. Ask the organization leadership for proof of insurance for general liability, directors and officers liability, and employment practices liability.  Also check to see if volunteers are covered (named as additional insureds) under those policies.  Some other potential loss situations could include:

  • • Failure to examine documents signed
  • • Silence with respect to improper conduct of fellow officials
  • • Improper rejection of bids
  • • Failure to exercise diligence in management
  • • Incurring unnecessary expenses

Communities are fortunate to have so many volunteers donating their time in a host of different areas.  This discussion is not meant to discourage any present or prospective volunteers.  Rather, our intent is to help individuals be well-informed, comfortable and adequately protected when it comes to volunteering.

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