By Rick Braschler
The role of insurance is vital to your camp’s overall risk management plan because it provides the resource needed to fund the losses a camp may incur.
This article offers insights and tips in understanding the role insurance plays, selecting a viable insurance broker, and acquiring adequate insurance coverage.
The purchase of an insurance policy to pay claims is a function of risk management called “Risk Transfer.” In other words, should a loss occur, the camp will transfer all or most of the financial loss to the insurance company, while paying only a deductible if selected.
This is necessary to protect the longevity of the camp due to the magnitude of liability and property claims, often reaching into the millions of dollars.
The amount of the premium is often regulated by the camp’s choice of maximum limits and deductible options. These options can either raise or lower the premium, and should be made in consideration of the camp’s financial ability to self-fund losses up to certain limits.
It is recommended you first determine the camp’s financial threshold for self-funding losses, then select insurance deductibles and limits to match this threshold.
Selecting the proper insurance coverage can be daunting for many camp professionals often burdened with wearing too many hats. Therefore, wisdom urges the selection of a qualified agent, who can then be entrusted to select the best possible insurance policy, coverage, and carrier.
In selecting brokers and carriers, here are two recommendations.
First, agents are not all created equal in their knowledge of camping, their experience in working with camps, or their capacity to insure the scope of your camp into the future. Therefore, I recommend you identify an agent’s years of experience in working with the camping industry, and the number of camps insured by an agency.
Second, while relationships and loyalties with “friends of camp” that can offer insurance services may prove advantageous, they may be equally detrimental. Ensure that this relationship is further supported by the agent’s ability to secure adequate insurance markets as well as understand camp risk.
The question asked repeatedly without fail is, “How much insurance does my camp need?” Of course, I generally respond that if I, or anyone, could answer that question, then we would write that book and retire.
Perhaps a more legitimate question is, “What coverage and limits should my camp have so that a loss will not spell financial disaster?”
Insurance is commonly viewed in reference to coverage type, coverage limits, and duration. So, let’s examine some general camp insurance schemes to gain insight on how we can utilize insurance as a tool in a risk management plan.
Property insurance is certainly a must, given the frequency of damage to property in the U.S. and the cost of labor and supplies. Coverage limits should accurately reflect what it would cost to replace the property value today.
Therefore, when considering these limits, do not factor in volunteer labor or donated supplies, as this will result in an inaccurate calculation, giving rise to a severe “under-insured” outcome. A knowledgeable agent can assist with a cost analysis of the property. The duration of property coverage is usually one year, and the deductible is applied per incident.
Included in your property insurance category are three important coverages: Inland Marine, Business Interruption, and Leased Equipment.
▪ Inland Marine sounds like marine coverage, but it entails much more. It focuses coverage on specific movable items, such as watercraft, data-processing equipment, golf carts, tractors, lawn equipment, and other high-value items. Generally, the deductible is lower on this type of equipment.
▪ Business Interruption is available should a covered incident cause the camp to close for a period of time. Since camps receive the majority of their revenue during the summer months, this type of loss can be devastating. It is wise to identify your camp’s coverage limits, noting that the deductible is usually different from property coverage, and typically has a time frame of 72 hours.
▪ Camps generally lease much of their equipment, including Genie lifts, kitchen equipment, golf carts, etc., of which insurance coverage is limited. If your camp leases any high-value equipment, I recommend a review of this coverage to adequately cover operational use.
Liability insurance is a major element of insurance protection, and should be reviewed intently. The primary components of liability insurance include General Liability, Medical Malpractice Liability, Sexual Misconduct Liability, and Umbrella Liability.
Liability insurance policies are written on an annual basis, and all but the Umbrella coverage usually do not have a deductible.
Uncommon Liability Issues
Claims Made vs. Occurrence Forms: Liability policies are written largely on the basis of two coverage forms, Claims Made or Occurrence. A claims-made policy form covers claims made during a given period of time, and thus reported in the same policy term. A claims-made form has value, but no guarantee of continued insurability, so you may not have coverage in the future for activities in the past should you cancel a claims-made policy.
Occurrence forms, which are perhaps the better of the two, cover losses that happen during a given period of time (i.e., the policy term). The loss can be reported years later, but the key is when it happened, and what insurance company you had at that time.
Non-owned and Hired Auto: Camps are often dependent on the use of private passenger vehicles to conduct business in their operation. Likewise, many organizations rent or lease vehicles when traveling, or for camp transportation purposes. As such, a necessary endorsement to add to liability is the “Non-owned and Hired Auto” coverage. This endorsement not only extends liability coverage to those non-owned or rented vehicles, but in many cases physical damage coverage can be added as well for an additional premium. Normally, an agreement or contract needs to be in place before insurance coverage can be extended to a vehicle of this type.
Charitable Immunity and Liability Laws: News reports of high liability settlements make selecting maximum limits a difficult decision for camp leaders. In the end, the decision is often made simply in response to the premium cost, rather than effective strategic planning. Of the many factors included in determining maximum liability limits, an understanding of your state’s Charitable Immunity & Liability Laws should be an integral part of strategic planning.
Charitable Immunity and Liability Laws are generally designed to maximize the resources devoted to delivering the services of an organization by reducing liability exposure and insurance costs of charitable organizations and their employees and volunteers.
While not every state has adopted this type of protection, it is prudent to understand your state’s immunity laws when selecting maximum liability limits. The absence of a Charitable Immunity Law in your state should provoke some strategic planning to consider the possibility of higher limits for better protection.
As the definition of the “camp experience” continues to evolve in the minds of leaders, the task of insuring this changing landscape is equally challenging to the insurance industry.
To ensure that the longevity of the camp experience is upheld by adequate insurance coverage, it is essential that camps and insurance carriers set aside the “cat and mouse” mentality.
Rather, we should resolve to promote transparency and cooperation while building viable solutions equally beneficial to both missions.
Rick Braschler is the full time Director of Risk Management for Kanakuk Kamps, and the Senior Risk Consultant for CircuiTree Solutions Camp Risk Consulting. Rick has been a licensed insurance broker for more than 20 years and assists camps around the country with selecting brokers, identifying coverage gaps, and saving premiums. Contact him at 417-266-3337, or firstname.lastname@example.org .