Each year during the American Camp Association’s (ACA’s) national conference, the National Insurance Committee hosts a roundtable discussion with our insurance business partners and other insurers of camps. At the roundtable, we discuss trends in the insurance industry that may impact camp operations, what types of claims were filed the year before, and risk management issues. This year’s roundtable discussion, as the ones in the past, has proven to be an excellent source for risk management issues we as camp professionals cannot afford to ignore. The National Insurance Committee has a charge to help educate members in areas related to risk management, and the roundtable provides a starting point for many issues. Following the roundtable, members of the committee report what was learned during an educational session at the national conference, which many camp professionals attending the conference find very enlightening. This article highlights the topics discussed.
Increase in Property Claims
- Fire related — electrical, chimney fires, wildfires
- Storm related — heavy snow loads, tornadoes, hurricanes
- Water — flooding (from natural causes as well as broken water lines)
- Increase in theft when the camp is closed (for example, copper theft)
- Camper-to-camper sexual abuse is on the rise. There is strong evidence that most of this abuse started as bullying and escalated to sexual abuse. Are your campers being supervised as closely as you think? Do you have processes in place to help campers feel comfortable enough to report bullying and abuse? Camp administrators may want to consider outside professional training in this area for seasonal staff to help ensure staff know the signs to watch for.
- Staff-to-camper sexual abuse has been at a more consistent level.
- Concern has been raised on the length of time before abuse is reported and whether or not a camp would be covered if an alleged abuse was twenty to twenty-five years ago. Discuss with your insurer or broker how a claim would be handled and if you have coverage should a claim arise.
Prevention and Recognition of Child Abuse Resources
As a reminder, you can find resources on the prevention and recognition of child abuse on ACA’s Web site. These resources were recently updated with a summary of ACA standards related to staff screening, supervision, and training. Learn more at www.ACAcamps.org/child-health-safety/child-abuse .
- More camps are choosing not to purchase accidental/medical insurance for campers and staff, relying on the parent/ guardian/staff to cover these costs. Camp administrators should consider the costs associated with choosing not to purchase this type of coverage. It may result in an immediate cost savings, but if a camper or staff member does not have this type of coverage, it could lead to many claims against your general liability policy. This could lead to increased premiums!
- There appears to be an increase of rental of facilities by outside groups. Having the appropriate agreements and coverage in this situation is imperative (see “Contracting with User Groups, Revisited” in the Winter 2011 CampLine for additional information).
- Increase in high risk, specialized activities — important to share this with your insurance provider and to have properly trained staff. Are you covered for all the activities you offer at camp? Be sure to share the full range of the activities you offer with your insurer. Your Web site and marketing materials are a favorite place for potential campers and parents to find what you offer at camp. They are also places your broker or insurer see — hopefully there are no surprises!
- Challenge course related — camps are beginning to use their zip line (and other challenge course components) more as an amusement v. program. Also, lack of staff training continues to be of concern. We strongly encourage you to discuss with your broker or insurer any coverage questions you may have if your camp participates in this type of activity. You may also want to check local and state laws regarding amusement facilities to be sure you are in compliance.
- More camps are hosting “volunteer work weekends” and using additional volunteers as both staff and service providers. It is important to know if volunteers in your state are eligible for workers compensation and how a volunteer might be defined. It is important to understand how and when a volunteer may be classified as covered under your workers compensation policy. Since this varies from state to state, you will want to discuss this with a human resource professional and your insurance company.
- It’s important to know that vendors and service providers who come on your property are covered by their own workers compensation. Did you know that if a vendor or service provider was injured while working on your property, you may be liable? Make sure that all vendors and service providers have workers compensation coverage and that your entity is added as additional insured to the policy.
- Camps can anticipate an increase in workers compensation rates — all of this is state specific.
What’s a Camp to Do?
- Important to complete necessary maintenance on an ongoing basis.
- Forest and property management critical for wildfire mitigation as well as to reduce risk of falling trees.
- Consider purchasing business interruption coverage (this is not automatically included, and it is important to have a thorough discussion to determine what is or isn’t covered and what will “trigger” the coverage).
- Determine how to manage accidental and/or medical insurance for campers and staff. Partner with parents.
- Review and, as necessary, revise your agreement with rental groups. Determine what (if any) programs they will be allowed to staff themselves. Consider not allowing use of aquatic facilities without the “camp” lifeguard in place.
- CERTIFICATES OF INSURANCE — Require a certificate of insurance for all vendors, service providers, and rental groups that come onto your property.
- Supervision, supervision, supervision!
Engage in an ongoing dialogue with your insurance provider. Have I got you thinking? Good, that was my intention! The National Insurance Committee is pleased to provide members with easily understood and useful educational resources related to risk management and insurance. Questions related to your individual insurance coverage should be directed to your broker or agent. For a listing of ACA partners and business affiliates in the insurance industry and other helpful risk management and insurance information, go to www.ACAcamps.org/buyers-guide .
Gaetana De Angelo is the director of Property, Camp Program, and Risk for the Girl Scouts of Greater Atlanta and serves as chair of the ACA National Insurance Committee. She is a standards visitor for ACA, Southeastern. De Angelo attended Georgia State University with BBAs in risk management and insurance and hospitality administration. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .