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Why sports clubs need public liability insurance

15/01/2021

Public liability insurance for sports clubs can stop clubs running into problems with compensation claims

If you’re involved in running a sports club of any sort, there’s a sporting chance someone will get hurt - whether that be a member or a visitor. It’s what makes having public liability insurance for sports clubs vital in looking after the health and fitness of your own organisation.

There are thousands upon thousands of sports clubs spread across the UK, all busy helping people have fun, stay fit and make friends. Ranging from weekly aerobics sessions held in local village halls to multi-team youth football clubs, they help protect the wellbeingof the nation.

Many are set up on a not-for-profit basis. And while all of that’s positive news, there’s the inevitable downside. Because the sheer number of people involved (including spectators), often combined with the use of specialist equipment, increases the risk of an accident happening.

Unfortunately, accidents can cost you hard cash if someone claims their injury was the club’s fault and sues for compensation. And that’s where public liability insurance for sports clubs comes in, by helping you hang onto your subs.

Who needs public liability insurance for sports clubs?

All kinds of sports clubs need public liability insurance. Because all kinds of clubs can be hit by a claim if people fall foul of accidents.

Say you’re a bowls club and a member heads for the changing rooms as part of their usual routine. Only they don’t notice the pool of water that’s been left on the floor by another member washing their hands none too carefully. They slip and break their hip.

Or you’re a hockey club playing a match against local rivals. No one has noticed that since you last trained on the pitch, a rabbit has been busy digging holes around the perimeter. Consequently, a spectator falls and breaks their ankle.

Maybe your club runs fitness classes, including chair exercise sessions. Only a participant’s chair unexpectedly collapses beneath them mid-class, leaving them with a slipped disc and a dislocated shoulder.

Accidents can happen for a multitude of unanticipated reasons. And the result of living in an increasingly litigious society is that if someone thinks there’s a chance of blame, a claim will often follow. And that claim could be for many £thousands.

How can public liability insurance help?

The simple answer is by taking the financial heat off your club. If there’s a claim, public liability insurance for sports clubs pays for a lawyer to defend you, picks up other legal costs, and also covers any compensation you must pay.

That means you’ll avoid having to devote a big chunk of club funds to hiring your own solicitor. Or, if your club can’t afford the lofty fees, spend countless hours and pull out lots of hair trying to grapple with all the legal documentation yourself.

Since the bill for any compensation awarded is also taken care of, your club’s finances stay protected. There’ll be no big pay-out to find the cash for, meaning sport for your members can continue as normal.

Of course, some sports are riskier than others. And some insurers may want to ask more specific questions about your activities if your club is involved in some of the more obviously physical sports. Like rugby, for example.

But a few extra questions doesn’t mean a red light. And in general, most clubs will get the nod for public liability insurance once those questions have been answered.

What other insurance might my sports club need?

Jumpers for goalposts won’t really cut it when you’re asking members to pay fees and subs. So, you’ll likely need to invest in specialist equipment like goals, nets, bats, racquets, balls, and numerous other bits of sporting kit.

The value of all that gear can quickly mount up if you count all the individual bits and pieces. Plus, you might have invested in IT equipment to help you keep track of members’ details. Or sound systems, lighting and AV kit.

No matter where you store your stuff, there’s always a danger it could be damaged unexpectedly, say if there’s a water leak. Or it could be stolen during a break-in. And if you haven’t got the necessary kit to run a session, the sport stops.

Equipment insurance helps keep your club running by paying to repair or replace items as new should they be damaged, lost or stolen. You can cover any kit you take around with you like laptops, cameras or phones too.

What if my sports club has employees or volunteers?

If your club employs staff, either on a full-time or part-time basis, you need employers’ liability insurance (EL). It’s the law, so there’s no two ways about it.

It covers you if an employee is injured or made ill doing what they do for you. Maybe heavy equipment isn’t stored safely and falls off a shelf onto a staff member’s foot. Or someone develops chronic back pain because they weren’t trained to lift kit properly.

If an employee makes a claim against your club, employers’ liability is on your side. It pays for your legal defence and costs, as well as covering any compensation that’s awarded. So, in that way, it looks after your employee too.

You may also have volunteers offering a regular helping hand at your club. And it’s as well to cover them with EL too, even if you don’t have actual employees.

It’s something of a grey area as to whether you’re legally required to have EL for your volunteers. But the reality is that there’s nothing to stop them suing your club for compensation, in exactly the same way that an employee can sue an employer.

Final whistle

Playing sport brings with it a long list of benefits for those involved. Improved physical and mental health to name but two.

For the health and safety of your own particular sports club, it’s a good idea to invest in some insurance - kicking off with public liability. That way, you know your club’s future is better protected, and the fun and games can continue.

Click on the link for more information on insurance for clubs and societies, including public liability insurance for sports clubs. Or call 0345 222 5391 to speak to the team.

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