Understanding The Insurance Risks of Volunteering
Volunteering is something millions of Americans do. We are a nation of people who give. We encourage our children to volunteer and want to set a good example by volunteering our own time and talents to help others who are less fortunate in life or have unexpected needs along the way.
It is good and noble to want to volunteer and help others. Unfortunately, in the litigious world, we live in, volunteering your time and talents can put you on the hot seat when people do not get the results they want from your altruistic gestures. Some of the places and causes you may choose to volunteer include:
- Youth Sports organizations
- PTA Organizations
- Civic Clubs
- Non-Profits & Charitable Boards
- Booster Clubs
- Disaster Relief
When you volunteer for any of these types of organizations or causes you take the risk if someone is displeased with the outcome or decisions made by the organization you’re volunteering with. Without the right kind of insurance, that can be costly for you.
In some cases, the organization itself can file suit against you, especially if you are on the board and make decisions that negatively affect their finances or funding. Most people do not have the right kind of insurance coverage to protect themselves when this occurs.
The liability protection your homeowner’s insurance policy provides does extend to liability issues related to volunteer activities, however, the amount may not be enough.
Addressing Your Insurance Risks when Volunteering
The key is not to stop volunteering, though, that would rob the world of what good volunteers offer while depriving you of the emotional, spiritual, and health benefits of volunteering. These health benefits include things like:
- Lower mortality rates.
- Improved functional ability.
- Lower rates of depression.
These are significant benefits to consider and the research shows that the more time you participate in various volunteer endeavors, the more benefits you’re likely to receive from them. There is no need to sacrifice these benefits for yourself and for others, but you do need to take steps to protect your interests.
Getting Personal Umbrella Insurance for Volunteering
A successful suit against you can put your assets, your home, and your good name at risk. Without an umbrella insurance policy to protect you, you are on your own to fight the legal battle and pay any penalties awarded against you. The sad thing is that many people fail to secure this invaluable insurance protection even though it is often highly affordable to get up to $1,000,000 in coverage.
Not only does it serve to cover many situations, like being sued for your volunteer activities, that your general liability doesn’t cover, but it can also provide protection over and above what is offered by your other liability policies (homeowners, auto, etc.).
This means that if you’re in a catastrophic auto accident and a contentious legal battle that exceeds the standard policy limits, your umbrella coverage will kick in and pay the overage, up to the limits of your umbrella insurance policy.
If you’re on the board of a charitable organization or volunteering your professional services to other organizations you might be better served with professional liability (errors and omissions) insurance protection or ask the organization for which you are volunteering to provide a directors and officers liability policy (D&O Insurance).
The purpose of insurance is to provide some degree of financial protection when the unexpected happens. No one expects to have an accident or be sued for volunteering with the PTO, but these types of things do happen on occasion. If you have the right kind of insurance protection, those little emergencies do not become financial avalanches for your family that could rob you of your home, your savings, and your carefully made retirement planning.
It is always best to work with an independent insurance agency, like Insurance Center of North Jersey to make sure you have the right kind of insurance coverage to meet your needs and protect your family when you give your time, attention, and talent to any organization by volunteering.