This webpage is for guidance only. Please check with your insurer for your full cover details.
As an organisation, it would be good practice to follow these pointers to ensure that you have the appropriate insurance in place to cover your volunteers:
- Check your insurance policies explicitly mention volunteers because they may not be automatically included in your insurance cover.
- Check with your insurer if there are upper and lower age limits for volunteers. Your policy may have some restrictions that you wish to review so that you are able to do a wider recruitment.
- Make sure your insurance company is aware of the types of activities that volunteers will be doing. It is worth identifying these different roles as it is important to make sure that all roles are covered. This includes peer-mentoring, service user involvement and pro-bono volunteering and lone working volunteers.
- Produce a written risk assessment for each of the roles that volunteers will be performing. This will help your insurer to tailor your policy to suit your needs. If the tasks are high-risk then the insurance policies will need to be adapted to accommodate these risks.
If your insurance policy does not meet the needs of your activities, it may be worth reviewing your policy/provider so you are able to continue to meet the needs of your volunteering programme and group activities.
Types of insurance cover
There are many different types of insurance cover. Therefore, it is important that you consider all the options when arranging insurance cover for volunteers.
Employer's liability insurance
This covers paid employees in the event of accident, disease or injury caused or made worse as a result of work or of employer’s negligence. This insurance does not automatically cover volunteers. There is no obligation to extend the policy to cover volunteers, but it is good practice to do so. The policy must explicitly mention volunteers if they are to be covered by it.
Public liability insurance
In some cases a volunteer could be sued as an individual for damage caused to a third party, so the organisation’s public liability insurance should indemnify them against this.
Also known as third party insurance, it protects the organisation for claims by members of the public for death, illness, loss, injury, or accident caused by the negligence of the organisation. It also protects for loss or damage to property caused through the negligence of someone acting with the authority of the organisation.
Professional liability insurance
Professional liability, professional indemnity errors and omissions or malpractice insurance covers the organisation for claims arising from loss or injury caused by services provided negligently or without reasonable care. Such loss might arise, for example, from incorrect care or inaccurate advice. An organisation can be sued for claims arising from incorrect advice or information even if it is given free or via a telephone helpline. Professional liability insurance should also cover defamation, inadvertent breach of copyright, confidentiality and loss of documents.
Personal accident insurance
This covers volunteers in the event of injury, accident or death for which the organisation has no liability. There is likely to be an upper age limit on this form of insurance. This does not mean that people above this age cannot volunteer, but they should be aware that they are not covered for accidents where the organisation has not been at fault. Injuries to them arising from negligence would still be covered under liability insurance cover.
Insurance for volunteer drivers
If an organisation owns the vehicle being used, then it is responsible for arranging insurance. If the volunteer owns the vehicle, then they are responsible for arranging insurance and informing the insurer about their volunteer driving role.
If a driver has an accident during their volunteering and there is a problem with the insurance for that vehicle, the organisation could be held responsible, whether or not it owns the vehicle involved. The organisation can take out a Contingent Liability Policy to protect it from this risk.