Naturally, volunteers and trustees want to avoid being sued if something goes wrong. A joint working group of the insurance industry and the voluntary sector has tackled fundamental concerns about protecting individuals and organisations in the voluntary sector and produced new guidance on how volunteers are – and aren't – covered by insurance.
The Association of British Insurer's Volunteer Driving – The Motor Insurance Commitment, lists insurance companies that don't charge extra premiums for volunteer driving.
Sports and recreation
Physical activities and work with children and young people were attracting some hefty insurance premiums. The umbrella bodies the Sports and Recreation Alliance and National Council for Voluntary Youth Services were able to forge useful ongoing relationships with the insurance industry and explore options.
Code of practice
One of the first questions raised by the voluntary sector members was whether volunteers really faced enough personal risk to necessitate the individual volunteer insurance policies coming onto the market. Most volunteers will be working for an organisation that already has insurance to cover their actions and they may only need to satisfy themselves this cover is adequate. Therefore, individual volunteer policies are targeted more at unilateral voluntary action, such as good deeds for friends and neighbours or providing peer support on a mutual exchange basis. Yet many home insurance policies already cover such activity, and a key recommendation from our group is that volunteers should check these policies first; they may also want to explore the limits of this cover with their insurer. Recognising the anxieties felt by some volunteers, the group produced the Volunteer Code of Good Practice to give simple guidance for lone volunteers.
Trustees, however, often felt they faced different and more serious risks, especially the fear of missing something critical. These 'unknown unknowns' were a strong catalyst in drafting another of the group's key outputs, the Trustee Liability Guide , now published as part of Volunteers' Week. The guide presents a simple tabular format to the legal liabilities involved in being a trustee or management committee member of an organisation (no matter how informal). Alongside this, it lists whether each can be relieved by either insurance or company incorporation and finally what preventative actions trustees can themselves take to limit the risk.
Readers may well be struck by the number of liabilities for trustees that are not covered by insurance or incorporation, and the guide will inform and suggest other ways of avoiding such pitfalls, while pointing out that for the average trustee, the chances of accidentally falling into them are extremely low.
The final publication of the group was drafted by insurance industry colleagues after it became clear that voluntary organisations often assumed that their public liability, employers' liability and professional indemnity policies would cover them for pretty much anything they did. The guide to insurance products prompts organisations into considering all their activities in a bit more depth and to then question their insurer about whether they might need any specialist products to supplement their existing insurance. It's a long list of products and some are fairly esoteric but then our sector is enormously diverse.
Visit the NCVO blog for more information or to download the files.