Does your insurance cover volunteers?

Recruiting Volunteers - Do you need insurance?

Recruiting volunteers can be a challenge for any Charity and an increase in volunteers also means potentially increased insurance liabilities. Any volunteer involved in your organisation may expose themselves to risks from time to time. To avoid problems in the future, simple risk management measures should be built in as part of the volunteer recruitment process and most importantly the procurement of adequate insurance.

The recruitment process

Clarity around roles and responsibilities is key so volunteers are aware of what is expected of them. Once a volunteer has started they need to have inductions and training appropriate for their level of role and responsibility, as well as health and safety training. This should help to lower any risk to the volunteer and the organisation. As part of the recruitment process DBS (Disclosure and barring Service) checks, formally CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) checks may be required, especially in light of recent events. These checks can take up to 4 weeks to complete. More information on DBS checks is available on the website.

Do you need insurance for volunteers?

Volunteers risk personal injury, or liability arising from the course of their volunteering or loss or damage to their own property. Any volunteer working under the direction and control of the organisation, in the eyes of British Law are treated in the very same way as an Employee and therefore need to be insured as an employee does. It is essential and in everyone’s best interest to ensure that adequate insurance cover is provided.

What insurance do charities need for volunteers?

Employer’s liability insurance, in the majority of cases, covers the cost of defending your organisation against allegations of illness or injury. Claims of this nature can cost thousands, and without appropriate insurance cover, can cause a serious financial risk. Public liability insurance, offers protection against any action taken by a ‘Third Party’, or outsider (someone not within the organisation). Your organisation will need to consider what will happen if a volunteer causes injury to another volunteer or a member of the public.

Things to remember when obtaining your insurance

It is important to remember that volunteers are in a unique position within your organisation. They are not employees and as such may not automatically be considered as ‘Third Party’ under your Public Liability Insurance. Volunteers need to be specifically referred to in your policy.

Insurance policies should cover all actions volunteers may carry out as well as the venues they will be operating in. If volunteers take part in strenuous or dangerous activities, such as sports coaching or the use of specialised equipment, then these will need to be covered in your policy.

Any large one-off events such as festivals or unique fundraising events will need specific one-off insurance policies which should include both Employers and Public liability.

The Charity commission states that charities must take out Employer’s Liability insurance only from a company working under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 for example CARE.

Where can you get volunteer insurance?

It is important to check your current policy as insuring volunteers falls into one of two covers – either Public Liability insurance or Employer’s Liability insurance.


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