What kind of insurance do you need for volunteers?
Whether you are a volunteer or a paid worker, everyone has a right to feel safe at work. Volunteers play a vital role in every community, and their important work is invaluable for most charities and non profits. It’s important they are protected from serious things such as injury or negligence.
In this article, we’ll look at what kind of insurance for volunteers is needed and why it’s so important.
Why is insurance for volunteers important?
Non profit organizations are exposed to a number of risks - including bodily injury, fire, theft, vehicle damage, professional risks, environmental, financial, employee, and laws and regulations. As such, it’s important that you are covered for these risks in case a suit or claim is made against your organization or a member of your team. While it’s important to have procedures and training in place to avert any foreseeable problems, being adequately covered by insurance can also offer peace of mind.
When should organizations get insurance?
Nonprofit organizations should have liability insurance in place from day one. Liability insurance provides coverage for damages and legal defense in cases where the actions of the organization have resulted in some harm to a person or property.
They should also take out car insurance for volunteers for any vehicles used, as well as property insurance for their premises such as warehouse or office building, whether renting, subletting or owning.
Another important type of insurance is workers compensation, also known as WorkCover - this covers injuries sustained at work.
When organizing events such as fundraisers, public liability insurance is essential for the organization, as well as any suppliers such as food and beverage operators, rides or attractions and bands.
When should volunteers get insurance?
Individual volunteers may think they need to sort out their own personal insurance, however this is not really an option. Specific insurance for volunteers doesn’t really exist, so instead you should look at other insurance policies that you may hold that may cover certain circumstances.
This includes auto insurance, which can cover you if you are involved in a car accident while volunteering in your own vehicle.
You may also have some coverage through your homeowners or renters insurance, such as personal liability insurance. This may provide coverage for injuries or damage to property, but won’t cover civil disputes. Also, the coverage provided by your personal insurance may be limited if you are reimbursed for any of your costs associated with volunteering, so always check the finer details with your insurer.
1. What should you do if the organization you volunteer for isn’t insured?
It’s within your rights to request that your organization arrange it. Sometimes, they may not have thought about it, and once a member brings it up, they will purchase it.
2. Do I need travel insurance for volunteering abroad?
If you're being sent overseas to work by a not-for-profit organization, the company may have travel insurance for volunteers- so it’s best to check before you depart. If you are embarking on your own volunteer abroad program, you will need to take out travel insurance for yourself. This should cover at a minimum medical and hospital expenses, theft or loss of belongings and trip cancellations. You may also choose to add on extra coverage for things such as individual items (laptops or jewelry), public liability coverage, or professional indemnity if you are giving advice.
3. How can you reduce potential risks?
Start by sitting down with all of your key stakeholders and assess any potential risks. You can use this list as a starting point:
- Ask for reports and suggestions from volunteers and staff
- Conduct your own inspections
- Ask your insurer or broker for assistance
- Review any injury reports or claims
- Identify workplace hazards
- Sign up for updates from your industry or peak association
- Constantly check to see that you comply with ALL relevant state and federal legislation and regulations
Volunteering is a very generous endeavor, and your efforts make a big difference in the world. However, it’s important to understand that it also comes with a certain degree of risk. Many non profits are understaffed and under-resourced, so they may not have put as much time and focus into things such as risk management, safe working practices and insurance as you’d expect from a regular for-profit company.
As a volunteer it’s important to practice safe working practices, and speak up if you feel like something can be improved. Speaking to your organization about arranging insurance for volunteers will help ensure everyone is protected.
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.