Richard Hammar, noted attorney and largely considered the expert in church…
Children’s camps, youth camps, mission trips and many other such activities often dominate an active church’s calendar during the summer months. Several months and sometimes years of planning go into these types of trips, so knowing how your insurance coverage might or might not apply is just as important.
Please allow us to highlight some bits of information that might help in your planning.
Q: If we are driving a vehicle into Mexico, do we need to buy any additional coverage?
A: Yes. We strongly recommend purchasing Mexico insurance for any vehicle crossing the border into Mexico. It’s important to understand that Mexico’s laws treat auto accidents differently than Texas laws. In Mexico, drivers can be held both criminally responsible and financially liable for accidents they cause. If anyone is injured, police may detail the drivers while they sort out who caused the accident. And the insurance for your organization may not extend to Mexico. In short, save yourself any potential hassles and purchase coverage from authorized Mexican casualty insurance companies before entering Mexico. An example of where you can get a quote and purchase your Mexico auto insurance policy is www.sanbornsinsurance.com.
Q: Our church/school will be traveling overseas but we have coverage through the travel agency. Is that enough?
A: Possibly not. Most of the plans provided through the travel agency or travel group are good medical plans, sometimes with other coverages such as trip cancellation, lost luggage, etc. However lacking in almost all of these plans is any type of liability coverage. Most insurance companies will provide coverage only within the Continental United States or for lawsuits brought within the United States, so without a Foreign Travel Policy, and facing any possible litigation, you could be on your own.
We recommend two plans for your consideration, one of which is very comprehensive in coverage including medical, $1,000 or more in liability coverage, kidnap and extortion, commercial auto liability, etc. but it also carries a minimum annual premium of $2,500. That’s ideal for the organization taking multiple trips or limited trips with large groups of people. Contact us for more details on this. The other is a plan that is less robust in coverage but still provides medical coverage and $1,000,000 in liability at a very affordable $3.30 per person per day. For more details see their website at http://www.travelwithgallagher.com.
Summer Activity Checklist
- Have you obtained proper Waiver Forms for all participants? Are they specific to what the parent/individual is waiving? We suggest that you use forms that have been reviewed by legal counsel or certain insurance pre-approved forms might be acceptable as well.
- If you are providing or arranging transportation, are you using drivers that have been pre-approved based on age (recommended ages 25 to 70) and good driving record?
- Are you using transportation other than 15-passenger vans? Use of these vehicles, even the newer models, is still not recommended due to safety concerns. However, if you do elect to use this form of transportation, do not allow passengers in the rear seat or if that set is removed, do not place luggage in that area or two any type of trailer.
- Have you adequately screened all adult sponsors and have you provided adequate training for them? This should include at a minimum (a) background checks (b) training in church policy and guidelines, possibly including a stated code of ethics (c) driver qualifications as applicable, and (d) CPR training (minimum one trained personnel per group).
- Do you have an emergency response plan in the event of an emergency, such as a vehicle accident or serious medical injury?
- For Vacation Bible Schools, do you have adult sponsors that supervise the involvement of teen workers and assure that they are never left unattended?
- Do you have easily accessible records of release forms, medical histories and applicable health insurance information in the event of a medical condition requiring treatment?
- Are you aware of how your insurance coverage will or will not apply in any given activity? Have you notified your insurance agent of any “hazardous” activity you are considering and has that activity been approved?
This information may not completely eliminate the risks for your summer activities, but a little planning ahead could help you save ministry dollars, time and stress. Your “due diligence” will definitely help keep risks low, so you can spend your time and resources on true mission work and the enjoyment of your other activities.
Have a safe Summer and please let us know if you have any questions!