The Season for Giving: What to Do If You’re Injured while Volunteering
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’Tis the season for giving. Some give money; some give time by way of volunteering. But what happens if you’re involved in an accident and injured while volunteering?
Many accident disputes can be avoided if the volunteer organization takes preventative measures. If you run a nonprofit organization that relies on volunteers, look at your business practices and determine what activities volunteers will be helping out with in order to establish safety rules to prevent injury.
But even with strict rules, accidents still happen. If you are injured while volunteering, the first step is to check if your health insurance covers the type of accident and the medical care you need. A personal health insurance plan should respond in the event that your injury requires a doctor or hospital visit.
A nonprofit organization may be able to get an extension on its workers’ compensation policy to cover volunteers, but such an extension is often expensive. Another option is to purchase an accident and health policy that covers injuries to volunteers. This route could be less expensive to the organization, but it is considered excess coverage over any health insurance plan currently in force.
If a volunteer decides to bring a suit against a nonprofit organization, the type of policy required to respond will depend on the cause of the case. For example, if the lawsuit is a result of bodily injury, a general liability policy will respond. A discrimination suit would require an employment practices policy.
Other than providing for bodily injury and/or discrimination, the organization’s board of directors may want more protection, depending on its activities. If its activities and practices are questioned or come under a lawsuit, the organization’s directors and officers policy would respond.
I’d like to stress that while it is difficult to hypothesize on potential claims scenarios, we recommend reviewing, with your broker, the types of policies available and what coverage they provide. Reviewing with your broker how other organizations protect themselves will provide insight into the insurance policies available.
Happy holidays, and have a safe and injury-free volunteer season.
Linda Rey is a licensed insurance agent at Rey Insurance with a broad spectrum of expertise in life, accident, health, property and casualty insurance as well as retirement planning and college funding strategies.
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