Each year during the American Camp Association (ACA) national conference, the ACA 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. The key purpose of the Insurance Roundtable is to explore how to help camps be prepared for emergencies and run safe programs, as well as keep owners and staff on top of risk management issues. This year’s roundtable provided great insight into areas of concern and improvement.
The ACA National Insurance Committee has a charge to help educate members in areas related to risk man¬agement, and the roundtable provides a starting point for many discussions and educational opportunities. Following the roundtable, members of the committee report what was learned during an educational session at the national conference, which many attendees find very enlightening. This article highlights the topics discussed.
Top Concerns for 2014
- Appropriate supervision of campers ALL the time.
- Camps continue to be impacted by weather (severe weather this year).
- Copper loss (stolen on property where no one is on-site regularly).
- Workers’ compensation claims.
- Agreements and insurance related to outside user groups and contractors.
- Abuse claims — still occurring but showing a slight decline. (Even one claim is one claim too many; see below for additional information.)
Overview of Claims and Noted Trends
Compared to previous years, catastrophic claims were lower. Several large losses were directly related to flooding caused by natural occurrences and severe hail damage.
Key points to take away:
- Check the flood maps often. They change. Your property may be sitting in a flood zone, and you might not even know it. Determine if you are eligible for flood insurance. (Visit www.floodsmart.gov for more information.)
- Discuss with your broker what type of coverage you have and/or should consider for a variety of property claims (flood, water seepage, broken pipes, etc.).
- Discuss with your broker in advance what coverage will be available in the event of a natural disaster such as a flood. Be prepared to pay for the damage if you don’t have the coverage!
- Expect an increase in hail and wind storm deductibles.
- APPROPRIATE AND ACTIVE SUPERVISION is critical!
- Decrease in claims could be related to heightened awareness and education of both staff and campers. Don’t stop what you are doing well (supervision, training, screening). Keep doing it and improving it!
- Consider requiring a reference check from a family member. If a family member is evasive or unsure of how to respond to your questions, it could indicate a problem.
- There is a disparity in amount of claims being filed and awarded by courts. Be aware of how your state, and even your county, views claims of this nature and past awards.
- There has been an increase in transgender campers. It is important that you have discussed how your camp will address this request with your senior management before it comes up. Have a plan and know where to look for resources and support.
Key point to take away:
- Clear, open communication is key in controlling the outcome of many claims. Seek the advice of your legal counsel and, most importantly, your insurance company immediately upon discovery of a claim or potential claim. Request that they work together to help determine what and how to communicate to the parents of the camper who may be the victim, as well as the parents of other campers. You don’t want them to hear it from another parent first!
General and Excess (Umbrella) Liability
- As reported for the last several years, there is an increase in the rental of facilities by outside groups. Having the appropriate agreements and coverage in this situation is imperative (see the Winter 2011 CampLine, www.ACAcamps.org/campline/winter-2011, for additional information).
- There continues to be an increase in high-risk, specialized activities. It is important to share this with your insurance provider and to have properly trained staff.
- Be open with your broker about activities you are providing in order to ensure that you have coverage.
- Transportation concerns:
- International staff must follow the same protocols for driving as U.S. nationals.
- The minimum age for transporting kids should be twenty-one, and drivers must have an acceptable driving record. Put this in a policy and stick to it!
- Still using large-capacity vans? Educate and train your drivers.
Key point to take away:
- Remember that the underwriters are looking at your Web sites and literature — you don’t want them to find out about activities you are doing from your Web site. Share these things up front to ensure you have appropriate coverage for the exposure.
- Hiring international staff can be a very beneficial and effective programmatic element to foster a culture of diversity in camp. Be sure to discuss with the placement agency you use what, if any, insurance they provide by contract. Generally the camp employer is required to provide workers’ compensation insurance for international staff, just as you would any other staff.
- Closure of workers’ compensation claims for international staff can be lengthy once they leave the country. The longer a claim is open, the longer the negative impact on your premium!
- It is important to know that vendors and service providers who come on your property are covered by their own workers’ compensation. This was also a top concern in 2011. Make sure to require that they provide you with a certificate of insurance naming your camp/agency as additional insured.
- Providers of online services (such as registration, health information, etc.) rarely provide the user with any protection. It is critically important to have your legal counsel review the contract to protect you!
- Ask questions. If you currently don’t have cyber coverage, you need to make an appointment soon to talk with your broker about the types of online activities you do and the online services you use. Most general liability policies do not cover cyber exposures.
What’s your takeaway from this? It is still all about SUPERVISION and AWARENESS — the keys to managing risk!
- SUPERVISION, SUPERVISION, SUPERVISION — of your staff, of your campers, at all times! This is critical to mitigating many claims from sexual abuse, molestation, bullying, camper-to-camper sexual abuse, sexual harassment, and accidents and injuries.
- Be AWARE of the flood zones and where your property sits in relation. They change frequently, especially with new development.
- Be AWARE of your agreement with rental groups. Review it annually and revise it as needed. Determine what (if any) programs rental groups will be allowed to staff themselves without camp staff SUPERVISION. Consider not allowing use of aquatic facilities without the “camp” lifeguard in place.
- Be AWARE of the special considerations you should expect with hiring international staff.
- And of greatest importance, engage in an ongoing dialogue with your insurance provider.
The ACA 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, as well as other helpful risk management and insurance information, visit www.ACAcamps.org/buyers-guide.
As an additional resource, ACA also hosts a page on its Web site with a compilation of articles and resources regarding insurance. A list of insurance providers that provide a complimentary e-newsletter is also available with a link to sign up for such communications: www.ACAcamps.org/knowledge/business/insurance.
Gaetana De Angelo is the director of property 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 and has BBAs in risk management and insurance and hospitality ad¬ministration. She can be reached at email@example.com.