Substance over image since 1926

Do you Volunteer?

It's a dicey world we live in. 

Oh, that's right...you came here to find out something that you did NOT know. 

Sorry. 

Folks who volunteer to serve on "non-profits", a school board, church boards, Habitat for Humanity, civic and booster clubs, scouting programs, athletic coaches, drivers (Meals on Wheels)...may or may not have coverage under a given circumstance. Sorry, that is the only answer that is honest. 

First, we are talking an auto claim or a personal liability claim.  Then, does that claim arise under a personal exposure or is a business interest involved (as with a company vehicle operated for personal use, or a company sponsoring the event, etc.). 

So, you see, already it is complicated and we haven't begun to discuss it.  Remember again that we are not rendering any sort of legal opinion here.  That is the pervue of an attorney and we suggest that you tak your exposure and policy to him for an assessment of your exposure. 

First of all, what policy is involved?  The coverage is different under your personal homeowner liability, your personal auto liability, or commercial policies if a business is involved in any way.  Volumes have been written on this subject and court rulings have chewed up time and resources to determine liability.  Without practicing law here, but relating experience and previous events, here are a few observations (by no means the comprehensive study on the subject). 

Non-auto exposures:

These can be broken down into four broad classes:

1. Bodily Injury (BI)

2. Property Damage (PD)

3. PERSONAL Injury (PI)  - libel, slander, false arrest, invasion of privacy etc...

4. Professional Liability (PL) -  let's just call this financial injury from professional advice for now

A homeowner package policy should respond to most (BI) or (PD) claims as long as you are not a compensated volunteer, but will NOT repsond to Personal Injury claims and Financial Injury claims that are not BI or PD. The Homeowner can be endorsed to add PI coverage for about $15 normally.  The PL exposure can only be covered by a directors and officers liability policy provided by the organization. I would personally not sit in such a capacity without that coverage in place and a certificate in my hand to evidence that. 

There is another exclusion in personal liability policies for "professional services" (not otherwise defined in the standard policy). Two examples of this might be volunteer EMT service or maybe hospital volunteer work. 

Umbrella Liability Policies:

A word about umbrella (excess liability) policies, generally written for one million dollars of additional LIMIT, over the top of substantial primary (home and auto) liability limits.  There is no "standard" umbrella policy, so each one requires careful reading and understanding.  The one thing that IS clear is that they are essential if you are volunteering anywere.  They cost about $150 depending on your underlying exposure (number of cars, homes, etc) and their coverage grants CAN possibly be less restrictive that the underlying policies. 

Auto Exposures:

The standard (ISO) auto policy (PP00 01 01 05) covers personal or business use of covered autos owned and/or leased by you. There is a grey area if your profession is related to the volunteer endeavor, but otherwise there's usually coverage. 

Personal use of non owned vehicles (driving a fire truck, school bus, parade float etc.) is also not excluded by the ISO policy (there ARE non-ISO forms that vary from this and some limit the size of a covered vehicle). 

There is an exlcusion of vehicles "furnished or available for your regular use" which reminds us of the vehicle given to the fire chief each year.  There is another exclusion from coverage for a "Public Conveyance" or while "Transporting Persons or Property for a Fee".  That MIGHT mean "Meals-On-Wheels" or senior transportation, but consensus has shown that does not usually exlcude coverage. 

Insurance SERVICE since 1926!!

653 Main Street, East Aurora, NY 652-1420

We do not write insurance contracts.  Nothing we say or write here can be deemed to change any insurance contract.  Our responsibility is to give insurance advice and to suggest a match for a risk with an insurance contract from a company who will accept that risk for a premium.  We are not attorneys who can give legal interpretation to the contract between insured and their insurers.  Information here is general in nature, for the widest audience