Notes from the 2013 Insurance Roundtable

Gaetana De Angelo
May 2013

Each year during the ACA national conference, the National Insurance Committee hosts a roundtable discussion with our insurance business partners and other insurers of camps. At the roundtable, trends in the insurance industry that may impact camp operations, what types of claims were filed the year before, and risk management issues are discussed. 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.

Top Concerns for 2013

  • Appropriate supervision of campers ALL the time
  • Property losses related to catastrophic events
  • Abuse claims — camper to camper of special concern
  • Workers’ compensation
  • Agreements and insurance related to outside user groups and contractors

Overview of Claims and Noted Trends

  • Property — compared to 2011, there were fewer claims but overall higher losses. Claims were in the following areas:
    • Fire related — electrical, chimney fires, wildfires
    • Storm related — wind storm, landslide, flood
    • Water — flooding (from natural causes as well as broken water lines)
    • Business interruption — caused by issues both on and off premises
  • Sexual Abuse/Harassment/Discrimination
    • As reported in 2011 and true again in 2012, camper-to-camper sexual abuse is on the rise. APPROPPRIATE AND ACTIVE SUPERVISION is key!
    • Several claims were related to off-season rental groups. Be aware that if abuse occurs within the rental group while on your property, as the “landlord,” you may be drawn into the complaint.
    • There is a rise in sexual harassment between employees.
    • There has been an increase in transgender campers. It is important that you discuss how your camp will address these requests with your senior management before they come up. Have a plan and know where to look for resources and support.
  • General Liability
    • As reported in 2011 and again in 2012, there is an increase in the rental of facilities by outside groups. Having the appropriate agreements and coverage in this situation is imperative (see “Contracting with User Groups, Revisited” by Charles R. Gregg and Catherine Hansen-Stamp in the 2011 Winter
    • We continue to see an increase in high-risk, specialized activities. It is important to share this with your insurance provider and to have properly trained staff. 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 your activities up front to ensure you have appropriate coverage for the exposure.
    • Challenge course related concern — camps are beginning to use their zip line (and other challenge course components) more as an amusement rather than a program. Increased state and federal regulations could impact your camp financially if the element is considered an amusement.
    • Aquatic-related accidents and deaths — camps are held to a very high standard where aquatics are concerned, particularly in regards to supervision. Claims that have not resulted in death have resulted in complaints of emotional stress on the camper. Again, SUPERVISION is a key element in helping to avoid tragedy. Also, weigh very heavily the decision to allow rental groups to provide their own lifeguards at aquatic facilities. You have no way to know the actual skills of the person they are putting in charge of swimmers, usually children, using your facilities. If something happens while a rental group is on site, you will be defending your camp’s reputation and good name. It is strongly suggested a camp consider just charging more and providing all certified staff.
  • Workers’ Compensation
    • Across the board, all insurers cautioned camp directors to be aware that rates will be increasing for almost everyone insured. It is important to talk seriously and specifically with your insurer or broker to be sure what type of rate increase you can reasonably expect to see in 2014. Talk about your losses for the last four years and MOD; changes to your payroll, especially increases; how your counselors and other staff are classified for rating; and whether or not any current discounts will continue. The answers to these questions should be very specific 
    • to your camp and will help you determine what your increase will be.
    • 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.
    • New this year, it’s important to know who covers your international staff for workers’ compensation. Don’t assume that it’s the agency from which you hired the staff. Be positive — ask!

Action Steps

What’s your takeaway from this? SUPERVISION and AWARENESS are the keys to manage risk!

  • SUPERVISION, SUPERVISION, SUPERVISION — of your staff, of your campers, at all times! This is key to mitigating many claims from sexual abuse, molestation, bullying, camper-to-camper sexual abuse, sexual harassment, and accidents and injuries.
  • Be AWARE that many property losses can be avoided by routine maintenance, especially forest and property management. These are critical for wildfire mitigation, reducing risk of falling trees, and removing snow from roofs to prevent collapse.
  • Be AWARE of business interruption coverage. This is not automatically included, and it is important to have a thorough discussion to determine what is and isn’t covered and what will “trigger” the coverage. Make sure you inquire about both on- and off-premises coverage.
  • Be AWARE of your agreement with rental groups. Review it annually and revise it as needed. Determine what (if any) programs 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 that workers’ compensation rates and premiums are going up! Don’t wait, start the discussion with your insurance provider now.
  • CERTIFICATES OF INSURANCE. Obtain a certificate of insurance for all vendors, service providers, and rental groups that come onto your property, and require that they name your camp or agency as additional insured.
  • Engage in an ongoing dialogue with your insurance provider.

The 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

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 received BBAs in risk management and insurance and hospitality administration. She can be reached