Insurance For Sports Leagues and Organizations
By Brian Litvack
April 18, 2012
An aspect of local sports that the LeagueApps team is learning more about is the insurance needs for sports leagues and organizations. We often receive inquiries about insurance issues or needs. We also are asked about the LeagueApps online waiver form feature. This feature allows leagues to create custom content for waiver forms within the program registration flow and then track completed waiver forms from within the admin console.
Most businesses and organizations have insurance needs but it’s especially crucial for sports organizations. Sports naturally have a fair share of injuries and accidents and there are certainly inherent risks and liabilities. A single mishap can devastate a sports organization if it does not properly protect itself and its participants. In addition, many sports organizations must provide proof of insurance to receive permits for playing fields, gyms or event spaces.
The most basic type of insurance is General Liability. This protects against risks including bodily injury or property damage caused by direct or indirect actions of the insured. Most General Liability policies cover the risk of being sued for negligence or strict liability torts. Although the rules do vary by state, General Liability is usually required.
Unfortunately, many General Liability policies for sports organizations include an athletic participant exclusion. This means the policy does not apply to bodily injury to people participating in actual sports activities. In effect, this type of policy covers nothing more than lawsuits arising out of spectator injuries!
Participant Legal Liability
Insurance carriers that specialize in General Liability for sports organizations sometimes provide an affirmative coverage grant called Participant Legal Liability that ensures coverage for all participants. This blog post better explains how this works in more detail.
Finally, sports organizations may also consider accidental medical expense coverage. This covers participant’s medical expenses that can arise from a sports accident or injury including slips, falls and broken bones. Accidental medical is often obtained to help enhance General Liability coverage and help deter liability claims since the risk of lawsuits is less likely when medical expenses are covered.
Policy Costs and Pricing
Insurance policies prices are based on the number of unique annual participants within an organization. Prices per player vary based on the sport, location and other variables. General Liability often range between $1 – $5 per player and accidental medical can be an additional $1 – $1.50 per player. Policy premiums and limits also range with a standard policy having up to $1-$3MM coverage for general liability and a $1000 premium and a $25,000 coverage limit for accidental.
Waiver forms that are signed or agreed upon by your participants may help protect against lawsuits. Well written forms that avoid common pitfalls can help reduce the ultimate settlement especially if the claim is more accidental and not caused by negligence. Waiver forms rarely bind the participant and more often are used to trigger the assumption of risk defense which may result in a significant reduction in damages owed. A waiver or release form will never take the place of the proper insurance coverage.
Here are a few tips to consider in evaluating insurance policies.
- Understand the overall insurance requirements in your state
- Understand the insurance requirements to receive field or gym permits in your community
- Accurately determine the number of annual participants in your organization
- Determine if the General Liability policy has an athletic participant exclusion clause, is “silent” or explicitly states Participant Legal Liability.
- Get quotes from multiple brokers and read the fine print!
- Find brokerages that have special programs setup for local sports organizations. Bell Anderson is one insurance company that does this and they were the main sponsor at the SSIA conference. Track down Jason Webb at email@example.com he’ll be happy to help out your organization.
- The need and use of waiver forms vary by policy. Ask your insurance provide what type of online waiver form and waiver messaging is required or preferred