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Insurance for Volunteers

In the wake of the recent devasting 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti there have been hordes of volunteers who have made it their personal mission to help the more than three (3) million people, a third of Haiti's population, any way they can.

With damage worsening as a result of aftershocks I started thinking about how important insurance for volunteers would be, especially during such a dangerous volunteer mission.

When you're volunteering and helping those affected by catastrophes or even local volunteer opportunities you're selfless and only think about the ones who need your help. You don't think about accidents that may injure.

When volunteers have acidents--injure someone, get hurt themselves, or have an auto accident sometimes their own insurance is not enough to take care of the resulting damage.

If you volunteer for a particular organization you can be covered by their commercial general liability policy and (in some states) workers' compensation policy. There can be problems with this approach, however. Consider the following:

-If a volunteer were to have a liability claim, the available limits of
insurance under a commercial general liability policy would be reduced,
leaving the organization itself with reduced protection.

In addition, the claims experience also would be affected, which could result
result in a rate increase. There are volunteer insurance programs that
provides protection to the organization's available limits, and its claims

-The commercial liability policy has important exclusions - claims by one
volunteer against another and incidents occurring during travel between the
volunteer's home and place of volunteer service (workers' compensation
policies also have the "travel" exclusion. Volunteer insurance programs have
neither of these exclusions.

-Regarding protection to volunteers who drive, the organization's own
commercial auto policy often provides no protection. In this case, without
the volunteer insurance program's excess auto liability coverage the
volunteer would have to rely totally on his or her own insurance for
liability. Even if volunteers are included as insureds, the organization
would be sharingg its available imits of liability, and claims experience, in
the event of a claim.

Organizations may provide up to $50,000 in medical expense reimbursement as a result of a covered accident at a cost of $3.75 per volunteer per year. In addition, up to $1,000,000 in personal liability insurance for $1.72 per volunteer per year. These coverages and others are available through the Volunteers Insurance Program (VIS).

Volunteers Insurance Service was established over 40 years ago to address the liability concerns that are shared by many volunteers, would-be volunteers and the nonprofit organizations that they serve.

Your volunteer work is greatly appreciated. Be sure to check with your volunteer organizations regarding volunteer insurance.

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Content copyright © 2013 by Denise M. Castille. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Denise M. Castille. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Denise M. Castille for details.

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