View Full Version : Insurance and Liability for Race Contractors
Time of Your Life
04-04-2007, 02:10 AM
How about some clarification on protecting independent race contractors (including hired race directors) from liability at races?
The USATF sanction (w/insurance) provides race organizers with liability coverage. If a race director or an independent contractor working on a race is not listed as the organizer of the event on the USATF sanction, does the USATF insurance cover their actions? Will the USATF insurance defend them if they are named in a lawsuit? I assume USATF and its insurance carrier would say contractors to events are responsible for carrying their own insurance.
I gather most large contractors to races (timing companies, groups providing significant equipment and management for big road races, etc.) do carry their own liability insurance independent of the race’s USATF or other coverage. But what about individual independent contractors who get hired to work race day or race weekend? Short of getting themselves hired through some agency that carries insurance, how can they be protected without buying their own general business liability insurance? Seems many independent contractors (often running club folks moonlighting) are getting hired by races without a written agreement that might spell out liability and indemnification.
04-04-2007, 11:25 AM
I think there is an extension of the RRCA's liability coverage for RRCA club members who manage races. Perhaps someone from the RRCA can expand on this?
Time of Your Life
04-05-2007, 05:34 PM
Trailrunnerdude, RRCA General Liability Insurance covers “Club Managed” Races, but I don't believe it covers club members or club officers working as independent contractors to non-club managed events: http://www.rrca.org/join/join/documents/insurancefaq.pdf
With respect to contractors, the USATF insurance brochure states:
“Vendors and contractors should carry their own insurance to cover their negligent acts and omissions. Event organizers/directors should not be liable for the actions of those hired to provide goods and services to events.” http://www.usatf.org/events/sanctions/benefits/InsuranceBrochure.pdf
I see where the USATF insurance brochure also states that “USATF certified judges and officials, working under the supervision of the event director, whether paid or not, are covered in the same manner as volunteers.” I'm assuming "whether paid or not" refers to the USATF official, although it's not particularly clear from the text.
Does that mean if someone who happens to be a certified USATF official gets hired as an independent contractor to handle certain operational components of a USATF sanctioned event for an event director, the contractor is protected from his own negligent acts and omissions by the USATF insurance? The scope of LDR officials' responsibilities at road races seems pretty broad (safety, fairness of competition, etc.), so it would seem handling almost any area of a road race might be viewed as part of a USATF official's work on an event.
As noted previously, USATF’s general liability policy covers event organizers (and officials and volunteers working under the direction of the organizer) for their activities at sanctioned events. It is important to note that coverage relates only activities directly related to the sanctioned event.
If an organizer is a paid contractor, he/she is covered by the policy (as is the charity or entity that hired the contractor/organizer). That should answer the basic question.
Other contractors, including timing companies, banner-hangers, and the like, are not covered. If an organizer wants to include contractors as additional insureds, they must send the contract to USATF (National Office) for review. If the contract language is acceptable on a risk management level, we will add the contractor via certificate. Please note that contracts have to be legitimate contracts and will be rejected (for coverage) if the contractor pushes to organizer/USATF for total/broad indemnification. In most cases, a contractor – who is being paid – should be indemnifying the organizer (and USATF) for their actions and professional conduct. Generally, we will not issue certificates for food vendors, scaffolding companies, and tent companies unless they offer a reciprocal certificate in advance.
One final note: when you add a third party as an additional insured, that contractor is only insured with respect to named insured’s activities at the event (the named insureds include the organizer, officials and volunteers). If the contractor is negligent in performing their duties, they are not insured by the sanction policy. If the contractor is sued (i.e., a claim is made against the contractor) based on the actions/negligence of the organizer, then the contractor is insured by the USATF policy. It is a common misconception that additional insured status is a “fully insured” status. While every insurance policy is different, I understand that most major general liability policies operate in the same manner (with respect to additional insureds).
Jim Elias, USA Track & Field
04-09-2007, 10:41 PM
As noted previously, USATF’s general liability policy covers event organizers (and officials and volunteers working under the direction of the organizer) for their activities at sanctioned events....Other contractors, including timing companies, banner-hangers, and the like, are not covered.
What if the "contractor" hanging banners, erecting scaffolding or other somewhat risky activities is a paid member of the event's Operations Team?
Suppose I hire my next door neighbor to be my Finish Line Set Up Director. Although he is not a professional contractor, I offer to pay him a fixed sum to set up scaffolding, hang banners, direct the tent contractor, etc. I realize that because I am paying him a one time fee and not paying workers' comp insurance, he is essentially a contractor. Three days before the event, the scaffolding he is setting up collapses breaking his arm and injuring a pedestrian.
What, if anything, would be covered by my USATF insurance in this scenario?
The answer depends on the contract between the two parties - what does it provide for? Assuming there is no real contract (other amount to be paid and work to be done):
Injury to contractor - not covered by any USATF coverage (note USATF does not workers comp to anyone with respect to event sanctions). Note: if the contract was prepared properly, it would confrim the contractor had his/her own w/comp or health insurance.
Injury to bystander - it really depends on the claim made by the bystander. If they sue (make a claim against, even if not a lawsuit) the contractor, the contractor will not be covered by USATF insurance. If they sue USATF, the local association, or the race organizer, the insurance would respond/defend. It is possible our insurer would subrogate the claim to the contractor and his liability insurance. It really depends on the specifics of the lawsuit/claim.
The bottom line is that I hope race directors are not hiring unskilled/inexperienced labor to erect scaffoldinng. For that matter, banner hanging carries significant risk. If you are paying someone, pay a pro. If the contractor is a pro, they should be responsible for their own actions. Finally, short form contracts are fine, but race directors should never promise coverage. You can indemnify a vendor or other third party if they get sued based on your (the race director's) actions or negligence.
Note the above is my general interpretation of the USATF policy. The specific policy terms would apply and always override any summary or interpretation of coverage.
Jim Elias, USATF National Office.
04-10-2007, 05:53 PM
To highlight Jim's point, I timed an event several years back in which the volunteers for the charity erected a banner at the finish line. However, they failed to erect high enough and/or assure the road was closed. A vehicle with a bike rack and bike on the roof drove through the finish line area pulling down the banner system onto my equipment, causing my display clock to crash down. Luckily no one was standing nearby at the time. The group paid for my damage, but I wonder what if... someone had been hit. I am now very careful to survey finish areas for possible issues, as although it was not something caused by me, it could have been my clock or equipment that injured someone.
04-10-2007, 05:53 PM
One other followup - I no longer use finish bridges as the systems most often portable are not safe and will not stand up to wind gusts etc and could injure someone or damage equipment.
04-11-2007, 11:48 AM
That is a good point - the finish line area should be closely monitored so that oversized vehicles don't try to go under scaffolds. Often, these scaffolds are not very solid. I once had a small schoolbus drive under a finish line scaffold that was made with pvc pipe. Not only did it bust the scaffold, but little bits of pvc were sent flying away from the finish area. Fortunately, it happened long before the race and not many people were there.
Remember, regarding your own equipment: USATF insurance (any liability insurance) does not cover damage to stuff you own/borrow/rent. My insurance company says "property in your care, custody, or control is not covered" by the insurance. If an insured (you, your people) damage it - not covered. If some random person damages it - the event liability insurance would not coverit since the culprit was not an insured. You hope they can pay for the damage or have insurance (presuming they were negligent).
Biggest gap I see with race directors is damage to equipment. They do not understand the preceding paragraph and are uninsured for clocks, computers, etc. We offered a small "BOP" (business owners policy) for a few years but no one purchased it.
Jim Elias, USA Track & Field
02-08-2008, 02:31 PM
I think it is time the RRCA put out a simple guide that explained the insurance coverage, or lack of it. The guide should include not only what is covered, which seems to be only errors and omissions, but more importantly what is not.
The guide should be comprehensive and written in plain English so that all the clubs board members and all the event staff can understand it.
We should also have a guide for what extra insurance we might need. And a guide to liability wavers and indemnificaiton agreements we should seek with vendors, contractors and civil agency involved. We also need a guide for what to do if there is a problem at an event.
Right now most people are guessing and most people and events have little real coverage at all.
I can think up a number of situations where well meaning volunteers would find they have no coverage and are personally liable. Most people assume that becuase their is some form of insurance policy they are covered, it seems to me that mostly they are not.
02-09-2008, 03:55 PM
The insurance policy is already is pain English. That's how lawyers make their money.
Now I could go for a "plain English" summary, which would be helpful. ;-)
03-18-2008, 12:07 PM
FYI RRCA normally has an insurance sesion at its annual meeting(this year in Cincinnati in May) www.rrca.org.
About 10 yrs. ago some HS kids decided to do a test on how flammable plastic Porta-Johns are at the dozen that had been dropped off the night before the Ridgefield (CT) Half Marathon. (The answer, BTW, is "VERY" - burned right to the ground and scorched the paint off a car parked 30 ft. away).
Fortunately the PortaJohn company was able to deliver replacements in time for the race, but the organizers were shocked to find their USATF sanction insurance didn't cover the loss, since PortaJohns weren't deemed "normal essential race equipment." Try telling that to hundreds of runners waiting to go.
The kids were eventually caught (it was a certain matter of pride for the local PD, since the incident occurred within 100 meters of the police HQ) and were forced to pay damages as well as do community service, so all's well that end well.
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