Wouldn’t it be great if charities were able to focus on their beneficiary work and keep admin tasks to a minimum? Unfortunately, this isn’t always possible, as there are so many things that need attention. Things like managing finances, keeping track of HR, dealing with volunteers and so many other operational aspects of an organisation. Taking care of safety and related liabilities is another extremely important part of a well-run charity, but unfortunately, it’s something that can often be perceived to be complicated and thus overlooked.

At whatCharity, we are dedicated to helping all sizes and types of charities find new volunteers for various volunteering tasks (both one-off and continuous), skills and non-skills based jobs. Therefore, we wish to also help to identify the kinds of liabilities and insurance-related issues that should be considered by charities. For example, to ensure a potential volunteering collaboration (e.g. with a company) wouldn’t be jeopardised as they’d need to make sure as an employer that their employees are covered. Also, it demonstrates professionalism and trustworthiness when a charity can proactively inform volunteers about safety and liability related arrangements.

We interviewed established charity insurance specialist, Alan Kafoor from Norris & Fisher Insurance Brokers to find out what charities should consider when assessing their liabilities.

How does a charity know what kind of liabilities it has in terms of volunteers and how they should insure them?

A charity has liabilities both to employees and volunteers who work for the charity and also to members of the public. The charity should carry out risk assessments. This is not a difficult process, however, it does take some time. It is sensible, therefore to spread the load as far as possible and for people to carry out risk assessments in their own particular area where they best know about any hazards.

The same risk assessments apply to work that you carry out away from your premises. The process should be overseen and co-ordinated by the person who has overall responsibility for health & safety. For example, if a charity undertakes activities, whether it is in or away from the premises, that require manual handling, they should provide training and consider the weight, size and body stress and whether the task should be undertaken by more than one person.

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So you are saying that assessment is not only for insurance purposes, but also to prevent any accidents and incidents from happening in the first place?

It is strongly recommended that a charity should consider not only the likelihood of an incident occurring but also the severity. For example, if you consider the risk of falling down stairs, the likely severity is a serious injury, therefore the charity may wish to consider fitting a handrail. This way the premises and activities can be planned to mitigate the risk.

When it comes to risk assessment, charities could start to list all kinds of potential risks. Does this mean the insurance will end up being very expensive? How does one make sure it is sufficient, but not unnecessarily extensive and costly?

The more risks that can be identified, the more that can be done to try to prevent their occurrence or their severity.  Some specialist charity insurers will offer discounts depending upon the level of risk management so identification of risks and attention to prevention can help to contain the cost of the insurance, not vice versa.

What are the basic liabilities of a charity in terms of volunteers?

Employers’ Liability insurance is a compulsory form of insurance where there are any employees or (in most instances) volunteers. In addition, the charity would be well advised to have Public Liability cover.  Other forms of insurance are available depending upon need – cover for contents, loss of income in the event of a claim for buildings or contents, money and legal expenses amongst others.

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What are the special liabilities in terms of volunteers?

Volunteers and officials have a duty of care to those with whom they come into contact during the course of their charity work – just as they have in day-to-day life!  The purpose of liability insurance is to protect them should they be negligent in that duty and, as a consequence, a third party suffers injury or damage to their property.

How are these liabilities combined with other liabilities (e.g. employees ) and what is a smart way to go about it in terms of insurance?

It is not usually possible to obtain Employers’ Liability as a stand-alone policy so Public and Employers’ Liability cover is available under one policy.  Trustees’ Indemnity can also often be added.

If a charity does lots of events (e.g. one-off fundraising or beneficiary activities) what is the best way to manage the safety and insurance aspects?

Insurers expect charities to fundraise and will normally extend the cover in respect of certain fundraising events automatically, subject to limits on the number of people attending at any one time. Depending upon the types of fundraising activities, insurers may apply exclusions or limitations and this will normally be brought to a Charity’s attention before they commit to arranging a policy. The charity should always explain to their insurer exactly what fundraising activities they will be carrying out.

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If a charity is voluntarily run or unregistered, do they still need the same insurances as other charities?

Voluntary groups require the same types of insurance as registered charities.  There is no difference between the two types of organisation from an insurance perspective.

Can you offer some tips for charities who need to get safety and insurance matters sorted? Where should they begin?

It is good to speak with an impartial advisor after having some kind of a risk assessment done and an idea of what kind of activities the charity is about to take on.  I am happy to advise on any risk and insurance related matter and evaluate the need for the cover that gives peace of mind that all is taken care of as it should.

alan kafoor, norris and fisher Norris & Fisher Insurance Brokers specialise in insurance for charities and would be happy to answer any queries from both charities and volunteers – whether the charity is insured with them or not.  Please either telephone 02380 269009 or email contact@norrisandfisher.com  Please mention ‘WhatCharity’ when you make contact and we will ensure that you have a free consultation. Free consultations are without obligation to sign up to any insurance policy. 

The first 10 charities to purchase cover after our free consultation will receive free goody bag. Only one of the bags will contain my highlighted business card which means that at random, whoever finds the card will also win an exclusive hamper from Norris & Fisher.

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Norris & Fisher Insurance Brokers