Should volunteer coaches have liability insurance?

Whether you're volunteering as the local T-Ball skipper or a small college's assistant basketball coach, you should have liability insurance.
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So, your niece's after-school soccer team needs a coach and your sister doesn't have time to do it, but you do. One of the first questions your boyfriend asks you after you tell him you're going to be coaching a bunch of active eight, nine and 10 year olds is, "Are you going to need liability insurance to do that?" At first you think, "Really - liability insurance?" But then, the more you think about it, it doesn't sound like an unreasonable idea.

It turns out, whether you're volunteering as the local T-Ball skipper or a small college's assistant basketball coach, you should have liability insurance. Though lawsuits are rare, if something happens to a player on the team where you volunteer as a coach, you could be sued [source: Rutgers]. In order to protect yourself, you should always be covered by liability insurance before donning that coach's jacket.


The good news, however, is that most organizations will cover you through their existing liability insurance [source: Martens]. If you are planning to become a volunteer coach, be sure ask what kind of liability insurance the organization has, if any. If you're covered by the organization, be sure to know the details of the restrictions, requirements and benefits. In some cases, the liability insurance provided may only be a secondary program, meaning that your primary policy, like your homeowner's insurance, must pay out first [source: Rutgers]. If the primary insurance's limits are reached, then the secondary policy comes into play.

Be very careful when reading the details. Are you covered if you are driving some members of your team to an event and you get into an accident? You may need to change your automobile insurance at your own cost to be sure of coverage.

In addition, you may find that the liability insurance provided by the volunteer program isn't enough for you if you have a good deal of assets you want to protect. In that case, you can buy additional liability insurance yourself through an additional policy, like an umbrella or excess liability policy [source: Martens]. If you go this route, be sure that your policies are working together and that you will be covered when you need it.

Just like any insurance, you hope you will never have to use it. And the instances of liability insurance coming into play for volunteer coaches are slim. But it's much better to be safe than sorry. So be sure you are fully covered before grabbing your whistle and clipboard and running onto the field, court or ice.

To learn more, visit the links on the next page.


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Related HowStuffWorks Articles

  • Blue Hens. "Athletics Policy Manual." (Accessed 5/18/09)
  • Hensch, Lynn Pantuosco. "Legal Issues for Coaches." NSCAA. (Accessed 5/18/09)
  • Martens, Rainer. "Directing youth sports programs." 2001. (Accessed 5/18/09),M1
  • Rutgers. "Answers to NJ Volunteer Coaches Frequently Asked Questions." (Accessed 5/18/09)