Community groups work for the public good and the people running them are often volunteers who give their time freely for a good cause. If you are a trustee of a community group that is trying to make a difference in your local area, insurance is probably the last thing on your mind. No matter how good your intentions and regardless of how much care is taken, however, wrongful actions, accidents or poor decisions can result in a significant financial loss to your community group if you are sued by a member of the public for negligence. Public liability insurance for your community group is the best way to protect yourself from such an eventuality.
Public liability insurance may protect your community group from claims by members of the public that have suffered physical injury or have had their property damaged as a result of the group’s actions. It can cover your community group’s legal expenses when defending such claims as well as paying any financial penalty that is imposed by a court of law as restitution to the victim when a claim is proven.
The main advantage of public liability insurance is that it can help protect you from any potential liability when an accident occurs, or a poor decision is made that results in physical injury to a member of the public or if their property is damaged. This type of insurance, while not necessarily legally required, is important because community groups regularly deal with members of the public and accidents can always occur – however good your management efforts and even when taking all possible care. It is not difficult to imagine a scenario in which someone slips on a wet floor and suffers an injury or that a member of your community group undertakes a task, often voluntarily, that includes significant risk and do not pay due attention to safety.
Without public liability insurance in place your community group could be liable for any financial settlement for damages ordered by a court and, if your group does not have the funds available, the directors or trustees of the group could be required to make up the shortfall personally and, in the case of large claims, potentially have their assets seized. While community groups are usually incorporated bodies that enjoy some legal protections in terms of liability, it is nonetheless important to conduct a risk assessment to determine where the group could be vulnerable to damages claims. When you consider the relatively low cost of this type of insurance, it is better to have it in place and have peace of mind knowing that even when the unexpected occurs, your community group is protected financially.
Most community groups are run as not-for-profit organizations that rely on donations from the public and fundraising drives. Some types of public liability insurance for community groups may also cover you for food and other products that you sell as part of your fundraising activities that have the potential to cause injury to members of the public. People that volunteer to help out with such activities may also be subject to injury claims and it is important, as part of your group’s overall risk management, to maintain detailed guidelines and procedures that apply to their roles when doing so to ensure they are covered by a public liability insurance policy. This type of insurance is one of the best ways to protect your community group from suffering crippling financial losses that could, at worst, result in its closure. For any well-run community group, therefore, public liability insurance is a must.
The specific coverage provided that is provided by a given public liability insurance policy for your community group will depend on its activities and the potential of certain events occurring. It is important to carefully go over any prospective policy with an insurance broker or insurance company representative so that they can thoroughly explain the terms of the policy, exactly what is covered and any exclusions (that is, events which are specifically not covered in the policy). In general terms, this type of insurance is designed to cover a community group’s costs when subject to legal action undertaken by a third party (member of the public) in which they claim to have suffered physical injury, or damage to their property or other loss that was directly or indirectly caused by negligence on the part of members of your community group. These types of policies will have an overall coverage limit that represents the maximum amount that the policy will payout. A community group should have sufficient coverage, based on its activities and risk profile, for a worst-case damages scenario.
The benefit of public liability insurance is that it can protect your community group members, volunteers, clients, or customers when it operates in public spaces and an accident occurs that results in injury or property damage that is caused by negligence. It is the most important way your community group can protect itself from accidents and unforeseen events that result in injury and damages. Without this type of insurance, the legal costs in defending, and potential financial restitution awarded to a victim, in a liability claim could shut your community group down.