From:

ARRL Eastern Pennsylvania Section ARES® Weekly Bulletin
Bulletin #072 February 23, 2020:

ARES & General Liability Insurance…

– This topic has been hot ever since I started as the SEC 5 years ago. People who are a lot smarter than I am brought it up before and I am going to clearly state getting an answer for them has been very difficult. But it seems that the question has been burning holes in heads in other locations too.

The ARRL Idaho Section Manager, Dan Marler, K7REX, has been having ARES Conference Call every week to discuss topics of interest to Section Managers and Section Emergency Coordinators. This time around it was General Liability Insurance for ARES. He brought in an expert on the topic from the agency that does the ARRL Insurance program. Tom McDonough of Risk Strategies was the guest speaker and it was really a worthwhile session. And, for me, it was eye opening. In some instances it was a “rock me back on my butt” eye opener.

This insurance is something that needs to be looked at by each county and a conversation had about it. Yes, you do have protection under the various volunteer laws but you still might have to hire a lawyer to defend your position. If you are acting under the direction and control of a government agency you have all kinds of protection. If you are out there doing a public service or community event you are not covered by any government protection. Your group should be covered as an “Additional Insured” but you’ll have to make sure of that with the event sponsor. And if you think being an ACS group buys you any protection while doing a public service event please scratch that idea right now.

I am going to give you the link to the 1 hour presentation along with the question and answer period because that is where the light shines on these things. ECs, this is a conversation you need to have with your Volunteers. I cannot emphasize that enough.

Some things I can say right now:

1. This is not medical insurance. If you fall down and hurt yourself or you get hurt on a mission then it is your medical insurance that takes care of that. Every Volunteer should have medical insurance.

2. The ARRL does not provide any general liability insurance for many reasons. Insurance needs to have a named organization that is being insured and ARES is all over the place. And it includes Volunteers that are not members of the ARRL.

3. This insurance is the same as the ARRL Club Insurance but your ARES Group does not need to be an affiliated club. In fact your ARES group does not even need to have the word “club” in its name.

4, There are, right now, between 75 and 100 ARES clubs already taking advantage of this program.

I am going to stop there. Why? Because I need to go back and watch the video again myself. There is a lot in it. I am not an insurance professional so I am not qualified to discuss it much farther than what I have already stated.

Why am I telling you about it? Simple. What if something were to happen and one of our EPA ARES Groups did end up the target of a law suit?  If I did not share the facts that I have so they could have done something to insure themselves then I would negligent in my responsibility as the SEC.

This is, without any doubt, a touchy subject.  Primarily because it involves money. But it is better the ARES groups were informed and allowed to make an informed decision than to work in the dark about this.

There has been a lot of misinformation about General Liability insurance and ARES. Don’t let the backyard over the fence experts mislead you. Get the facts and ask questions as needed.

OK here are the links:

Video Teleconference Recording: https://vimeo.com/392875612

ARRL Insurance Web Site: https://www.arrlinsurance.com/

ARRL General Liability Insurance Program

Public Service Events – Those Liability Waivers

I am open to discussion on this issue but I cannot make the decisions for your ARES Groups.

by:
Eastern Pennsylvania Section Emergency Coordinator
WT Jones, WN3LIF, wn3lif@w3luz.org