Thoughts on Scouting Safely

Featured in the LDS Relations November 2014 Newsletter –

Am I insured for that? Safety Button for Website

Unfortunately this is a question often asked only after there has been an accident or injury. We live in litigious society. As a Scout leader, you may want to ask yourself before an accident occurs: “Am I insured for that?” Any time a leader is involved in an activity with others; there is a possibility of personal injury or property damage. To provide yourself the best protection possible, you need to pre-plan, organize and carry out safe activities. In order to understand whether you are “insured for that” there are generally three potential sources of compensation to leaders involving claims arising out of a Scouting activity, (1) BSA insurance, (2) personal insurance and (3) Church funds. Let us examine the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) website to see what protection is offered (see http://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/HealthandSafety/Alerts/Insurance.aspx);

Comprehensive General Liability Insurance9315061447_33ccca520a_m

The Boy Scouts of America provides primary general liability coverage for registered volunteer Scouters with respect to claims arising out of an official Scouting activity. This coverage responds to allegations of negligent actions by third parties that results in personal injury or property damage claim that is made and provides protection for Scouting units, volunteer Scouts and chartering organizations.

Registered volunteers are provided primary coverage through the BSA general liability program, but not for vehicle or maritime (watercraft) liability, which is only on an excess basis; the owner’s vehicle or maritime (watercraft) liability is primary. This insurance is available only while the vehicle or watercraft is in the actual use of a Scouting unit and being used for a Scouting purpose.

The insurance provided to unregistered Scouting volunteers through the general liability insurance program is excess over any other insurance the volunteer might have to his or her benefit, usually a homeowners, personal liability, or auto liability policy..

An “Official Scouting Activity” means “an activity that is consistent with the values, Charter and Bylaws and Rules and Regulations of the Boy Scouts of America.” However, the general liability policy does not provide indemnification or defense coverage to those individuals who commit intentional and/or criminal acts. 9319301782_9ef36f7078_m

“Primary coverage” means BSA pays first without regard to any other insurance whereas “excess coverage” means after all other insurance has been utilized.

The term “Official Scouting Activity” is central because the BSA takes the position Scout leaders must reasonably follow the Guide to Safe Scouting (see http://www.scouting.org/filestore/pdf/34416.pdf ). By following these guidelines you have the best opportunity to prevent injury or loss to you and the Scouts in your care. The BSA has determined that failure by a leader to abide by the Guide to Safe Scouting sub-section on “Unauthorized and Restricted Activities” will result in the denial of liability insurance coverage from the BSA for all leaders connected with the activity, the chartering (sponsoring) unit, the Church as the sponsoring organization, and the local BSA Council. Please do not jeopardize coverage for yourself, others, and the Church by engaging in unauthorized and restricted activities.

In regards to liability protection for Church activities…some leaders are under the mistaken belief that when you are engaged in your calling, the Church will automatically provide some form of insurance. Such is not the case. For most incidents the Church does not have insurance and uses its own resources to pay a claim. For liability guidance from the Church, see Handbook 2, Insurance – Personal Liability Insurance (13.6.9) which states: “Where possible, those who oversee activities should protect themselves by carrying reasonable amounts of liability insurance? Such insurance may be available through homeowners insurance or other policies.”

When a Church or activity leader is responsible for, or participating in a Church-sponsored activity, the guidelines found in the Handbook are in effect. Since the Church is self- pay, the Church typically reviews each claim carefully and individually before making a decision about committing tithing funds towards a specific claim. As members, we have the responsibility to follow the counsel given to us in the recent First Presidency letter emphasizing safety and loss prevention – “Safety in Church Activities” which can be found at http://safety.lds.org.

So when I am serving as a BSA leader, how do I make sure “I am insured for that?”

  • Make certain you are properly registered and
  • Use the tour plan process and ensure that you have appropriately planned, prepared, and can carry out a safe activity. Tour plans also ensure that the appropriate parties are notified of your
  • Always follow the Guide to Safe
  • Carry reasonable amounts of auto, watercraft, and homeowner’s liability

One final point, if you are ever involved in an incident where someone is injured or property is damaged, report the incident immediately to your local BSA Council, your Bishop, and your insurance agent. Contact LDS Church Risk Management if you have questions regarding incidents or claims.

If you have further questions regarding BSA insurance, visit the Scouting Safely website or contact them online; you can also contact the Church’s Risk Management Division for information regarding Church guidelines at 866-LDS-RISK.

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