Volunteering is a great way to give back to the community but can also be risky. Volunteer insurance helps protect a volunteer if something such as an injury or illness happens while the person is volunteering.
Volunteer insurance policies cover various expenses, including medical expenses that might come up while helping. The right approach can be hard to find, especially because so many types of policies are available today. This guide will walk you through everything you need about volunteer insurance.
What Is Volunteer Insurance?
According to the United Nations Volunteers’ State of the World’s Volunteerism Report, there are around 1 billion volunteers worldwide. The same report also shows that these 1 billion volunteers contribute their time and effort, equivalent to more than 109 million full-time workers. It is vital to keep this number increasing, and one of the best ways is through volunteer insurance. But what exactly is volunteer insurance?
Volunteer insurance is a type of insurance that protects volunteers if they get injured while volunteering. It is usually provided by a third-party insurance company and is not mandatory for organizations. Any organization that seeks support from volunteers can purchase a policy directly from a third party. However, no one is required to have any form of protection in place.
What Do Volunteer Insurance Policies Cover?
Volunteer insurance policies cover volunteer-related injuries, illnesses, and property damage. Volunteer insurance policies also cover legal expenses if you are sued for an injury or illness while volunteering. Volunteer insurance policies can also cover death benefits for the family of a deceased volunteer.
These benefits are generally combined with disability income protection to provide an extra layer of financial security for those unable to work due to an injury or illness sustained while volunteering.
Volunteer insurance can broadly cover three things:
- Personal accidents: If a volunteer is hurt while engaged in authorized volunteer work, they will be compensated and receive weekly payments until healed. This protects volunteers who are doing other employment since they may miss out on regular pay if injured while volunteering. It can also cover the cost of the accident and medical expenses. For example, they would be covered if a volunteer is hurt while pushing a wheelchair and slips on the wet floor.
- Public liability: A well-designed volunteer agreement will also cover public liability. This coverage is more comprehensive and protects the organization and any paid workers and volunteers in the event of third-party personal injury or property damage. Because not all volunteer policies cover public liability, you should check with your insurer. For instance, public liability will cover the repair or replacement cost if a volunteer works at a charity event and damages a table.
- Voluntary Boards: If you have directors and board members categorized as volunteers, Professional Indemnity Liability may be something to consider. This will protect those officers from any negligence done by volunteers through defamation, slander, or sexual harassment. Though it’s not common, this could be a crucial addition if the ranks of your professional volunteers are high. For example, if a board member of a charity comments to the media that is defamatory, this will be covered.
How to Get Volunteer Insurance?
To find out if your volunteer group is eligible to purchase insurance through a group policy, start by contacting your insurance agent. If you’re unsure how to choose an insurance agent, you can look for directories to help you find an agent.
Other things to consider when insuring volunteers include: is the insurance policy you’re considering a group policy? How many people will it cover? Does it include emergency evacuation services or other types of assistance? Does it offer protection against terrorism or natural disasters while traveling abroad on a mission trip?
If you are looking to insure your volunteers, you can opt for something like VIS’s insurance policies that offer risk management with substantial benefits. Insurance coverages like the ones provided by VIS offer comprehensive protection to volunteers and your organization against any volunteer-related claims.
How to Choose the Right Volunteer Insurance Policy
The volunteer insurance policy should be tailored to your needs. For example, studies show that older adults are more likely to become volunteers, especially if they are a part of a group with volunteers. Not only that, but studies also show that older volunteers can have several benefits in terms of their well-being. Hence, if most of your volunteers are old, choose a coverage policy designed with them in mind.
Moreover, when choosing a policy, you should look for a plan that covers the most common risks, activities, locations, and accidents. Below are some examples of these:
- Risks: A volunteer insurance policy should be able to cover the following risks: injury and illness, accidental death, property damage (including vandalism), and loss of income.
- Activities: If you’re involved in any physical activity related to volunteering, like running around on sports fields as part of coaching kids’ soccer teams, then your policy must cover injuries resulting from those activities. Depending on your volunteer work, this could include trail maintenance or building houses for Habitat for Humanity.
- Locations: If your organization works with youth at camps across Canada every summer, it makes sense for them to provide coverage since they’ll be traveling outside their home province/territory/state/country. You might also consider getting short-term travel health insurance abroad if your organization sends teams overseas often!
Questions to Ask Before Buying a Policy
When buying a volunteer insurance plan, you have a few questions to ask. The first question is perhaps the most important: What are the benefits of volunteering for your organization? If your organization has great benefits like flexible schedules that allow volunteers to take time off when needed, that’s something you’d want to include in your insurance policy. If your organization offers opportunities for development and growth, that’s another perk worth mentioning.
If there are specific types of volunteer activities they would like to avoid (e.g., working with children), the best thing they can do is let their insurer know this while purchasing their policy so they can get coverage designed explicitly around their needs.
Volunteer insurance is not a one-size-fits-all product. You need to find a policy that fits your organization’s needs and your situation. Once you’ve found an approach, you must ask questions about the benefits of the coverage and how they apply to your organization and its volunteers. Volunteer insurance is essential to protecting yourself and your organization from liability. Whether you’re a nonprofit, a church, or just someone who wants to help out with their local community, you need to ensure that everyone involved has insurance in case something goes wrong.