Types of insurance for volunteers: What do you need?

Better understand what volunteer insurance is, the different types of volunteer insurance available and scenarios when insurance coverage for volunteers may be needed.

Volunteers play a vital role in helping organizations deliver successful events and keeping day to day operations running smoothly. Whether it be helping with disaster relief efforts, supporting a major sports event or contributing to community service projects, volunteers are the backbone of any any nonprofit organization. However, on the odd occasion when things don’t go as planned and a volunteer is injured in their role or causes injury to another, questions around financial liability can arise. The main way that financial liability is managed in these types of circumstances is through insurance.

In this article, we’ll look at what volunteer insurance is, the different types of volunteer insurance available and scenarios when insurance coverage for volunteers may be needed. 


What is volunteer insurance? 

Volunteering provides benefits to the community, the organization and the individual. However, engaging volunteers comes with some risk. One key factor in mitigating this risk is organizations having appropriate insurance coverage in place. Volunteer insurance protects both the organization and the volunteers working within it. Volunteer coverage includes a range of insurance policies and products that have been designed specifically for organizations that engage volunteers. 


Different types of insurance for volunteers

The most common types of insurance for organizations that engage volunteers are:


Public liability insurance

Public liability insurance offers protection to the organization in the event that the actions of one or more of its volunteers results in the organization having to pay damages to a third party for personal injury or property damage they have sustained. 

Professional liability insurance 

Directors’ and officers’ liability is a type of professional liability insurance to indemnify directors, committee members and office bearers for loss if they are proven to have been negligent or committed a wrongful act while carrying out their role in the organization. 

A second type of professional liability insurance is professional indemnity insurance. Professional indemnity insurance can compensate organizations for losses incurred through a claim against the organization for a breach of professional duty or advice. Situations when this can occur include when volunteers, including volunteer board members, have been negligent, misleading, deceptive or committed dishonest acts. 

Accident insurance

Voluntary workers personal accident insurance provides insurance coverage for volunteers who perform unpaid work for specific types of organizations such as charities and other types of non-profits. This type of insurance can provide coverage for accidental death and disablement, medical expenses, weekly income replacement and domestic help. 


When do organizations need insurance for volunteers?

The United States has legislation in place to protect volunteers from liability while undertaking volunteer work. In the United Kingdom, the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HSWA) includes volunteers to ensure they are protected from risks arising from volunteer activities. 

In Australia, workplace health and safety legislation requires organizations to have personal accident and public liability insurance for volunteers in place. This insurance is to protect volunteers from liability should they be harmed, or cause harm to others, while carrying out their volunteer duties. 

When using the services of volunteers, it is beneficial for organizations to regularly review their volunteer insurance coverage to ensure it remains relevant to the organization’s operations and activities. 


When do individual volunteers need insurance?

Volunteers should consider their personal insurance requirements when they will be using their own home or vehicle to carry out volunteer activities. Volunteers may benefit from the coverage provided on the following types of insurance policies: 


Personal auto liability insurance

In most circumstances when a volunteer is using their own vehicle to complete volunteer work, the volunteer is responsible for ensuring they have adequate vehicle insurance. This will provide insurance coverage if the volunteer is involved in a motor vehicle accident that results in bodily injury to themself or another. Personal auto liability insurance is also the type of insurance that provides coverage if a volunteer causes damage to their own vehicle, or somebody else’s, while completing volunteer work. 

Homeowner or renter insurance

Volunteers working out of their own home should have either homeowner’s insurance or renter’s insurance, depending on their circumstances. Some homeowner’s and renter’s insurance policies provide coverage for volunteer activities, primarily when damage to property is incurred. 

Volunteers should advise their insurance company if they are using their own home or vehicle for volunteer purposes as this may be considered a commercial activity.

Having appropriate insurance for volunteers in place is a vital part of any organization’s risk management plan. It is important for both organizations and individual volunteers to regularly review their insurance policies to ensure they provide the right type and amount of insurance coverage.

When volunteers are looking for the best places to volunteer, being provided with appropriate insurance cover should be a consideration to ensure the volunteer will not be subject to any financial liability should something go wrong.  


About Rosterfy

Rosterfy exists to connect communities to events and causes they are passionate about through volunteer and paid workforce management technology. Our proven end to end technology allows charities, events and organizations to recruit, register, screen, train, manage and report with ease, replacing manual processes with automations to better engage and retain your volunteers and paid staff.


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