Insurance and qualifications

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DaveB
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Re: Insurance and qualifications

Post by DaveB » Sat Aug 18, 2018 11:41 am

pathbrae wrote:
Fri Aug 17, 2018 4:49 pm
DaveB wrote:
Fri Aug 17, 2018 12:25 pm
A couple of posts have raised the question: do clubs and club leaders get sued? The short answer is "Yes, they do."
DO you have examples? (not naming names obviously) of any non-commercial coaches / leaders / trip organisers (whatever you want to call them) being sued??
A claim was made against my club and one of it's members some years ago. The claim was settled by the insurance company.

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Re: Insurance and qualifications

Post by john.ruston » Sat Aug 18, 2018 1:32 pm

OP asks why "clubs need to worry about insurance".

It's not just clubs that ought to have cover.
Those of us who mostly paddle alone need it too.
In my area (North coast of Northern Ireland) the local authority ask to see evidence of valid insurance when you pay marina or slipway fees.

There are not many kayakers hereabouts but lots of fast moving traffic and so plenty of potential for mishap.
EG . Jink a ferry by cutting a blind corner, passenger falls. Ferry pays compensation and aims to recover its costs from kayaker.. Case might well be made for ignoring rules of the road and failing to keep an adequate lookout.
No escape. It will happen eventually...

As it is on the roads you'd expect the other guy to be insured and they will expect it of you.
There's plenty of good marine insurance out there and quality third party liability cover can be got as part of one's general insurance like house and contents.
I have mine from the insurance division of my clearing bank and by writing to head office you can get a certificate of cover (the original Cover Note) to produce when needed.
Most paddlers spend plenty on equipment so why stint on insurance?? JOHN.

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Re: Insurance and qualifications

Post by Mrstratos61 » Sat Aug 18, 2018 8:41 pm

Just use Ben Stokes solicitors and you'll be fine.

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Re: Insurance and qualifications

Post by sean107 » Sat Aug 18, 2018 9:51 pm

john.ruston wrote:
Sat Aug 18, 2018 1:32 pm
OP asks why "clubs need to worry about insurance".

I did say that didnt I..

but I meant it rather more literally

as in "why is insurance such a source of worry"

rather than "do clubs need insurance"

also - as my club only has quaified coaches for white water and I want to go out on the sea it doesnt seem much insurance is available (other than BCU membership which doesnt cover me if i act as a leader - as i undetstand it).

I still dont quite understand - and it sonetimes seems that insurance and bcu generate anxiety where I'd expect them to be reducing it.

However I think the answer seems to be to just declare a paddle to be not a club event with no leader. Googling "peer paddling" has led me to some useful club policies

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Re: Insurance and qualifications

Post by john.ruston » Sat Aug 18, 2018 10:56 pm

Sean107 I PM'd you. Sorry for typos!! Cranky handset. J.

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Robert Craig
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Re: Insurance and qualifications

Post by Robert Craig » Sun Aug 19, 2018 7:25 am

[/quote]
.... (other than BCU membership which doesn't cover me if i act as a leader - as i understand it). .....
[/quote]

That's the crux of the discussion here. I think that the BCU insurance covers all club members on club activities regardless of qualifications.

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Re: Insurance and qualifications

Post by sean107 » Sun Aug 19, 2018 9:52 am

Yes that is the £10 000 000 question

If BCU insurance covers all members on all activities then "insurance rules" dont need to be restrictive and we can get out have fun and consider safety for its own sake.

There is a great fear of liability issues in our society that seems to me disporoportionate and corrosive.

Take for example the common belief that if you clear snow from the footpath outside your house you could be held liable for subsquent injury.

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Re: Insurance and qualifications

Post by Allan Olesen » Sun Aug 19, 2018 10:27 am

Owen wrote:
Sat Aug 18, 2018 9:58 am
Allan Olesen wrote:
Fri Aug 17, 2018 8:48 am
Regarding peer paddles:

As I understand the rules in UK (I am from Denmark, so I have no first hand experience with those rules), if an accident happens during a peer paddle, the group member with the highest formal qualifications will take all the heat from the authorities, no matter if he actually did have a leadership role in that group.
Not really, unless that person was negligent. To sue somebody for negligence you have to prove they were in fact negligent, that's how the law works. In general with peer groups you are all collectively responsible for everyone else in the group. If someone within the group does something really stupid that leads to someone else having an accident then the stupid person is the one negligent, regardless of who was what qualification. In practice most accidents are put down to misadventure.
Here you are talking about the situation where one group member does something stupid, for which he is deemed responsible.

But what about the situation where the group does something which is stupid, and the authorities afterwards tries to find out who was responsible for the actions of the group? For example if the group went out in conditions which were too far above the skill level of all or some of the group members.

In that case, which group member will the authorities look at and say:
"You should have known that this was too dangerous, even if the other group members didn't know.
You should have stopped the group.
By not stopping the group, you showed negligence."

I have heard from more than one UK paddlers that in such cases, the UK authorities will put blame on the highest qualified member of the group, no matter if he/she was actually a leader of the group. For that reason, some highly qualified UK paddlers have stopped joining trips with less experienced paddlers.
Last edited by Allan Olesen on Sun Aug 19, 2018 10:58 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Insurance and qualifications

Post by Allan Olesen » Sun Aug 19, 2018 10:38 am

sean107 wrote:
Sun Aug 19, 2018 9:52 am
Yes that is the £10 000 000 question

If BCU insurance covers all members on all activities then "insurance rules" dont need to be restrictive and we can get out have fun and consider safety for its own sake.
Again, I am not from the UK, but I assume that some insurance concepts are universal. So this is how insurance (in general, not kayak-specific) works in Denmark, and I would assume that it works the same way in the UK:
  • You can insure yourself against your own losses from bad luck or some kind of negligence.
  • You cannot insure yourself from other people's claims caused by you having pure bad luck and causing them a loss. (Because if it was pure bad luck, you haven't been negligent.)(Well, actually in some specific cases you can insure yourself against that, but it is not relevant here anyway.)
  • You can insure yourself from claims caused by you being "normally" negligent.
  • You cannot insure yourself from claims caused by you being "overly" negligent.
If it works the same way in the UK, the club will still have an interest in restricting activities which could end up in the latter category.

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Re: Insurance and qualifications

Post by jamiemagee » Sun Aug 19, 2018 11:19 am

BCU cover you against negligence as far as I understand. So as long as you're a member your covered is my understanding.

Arguing your case in court is a different matter all together.

If your qualified as a coach or leader than your covered in those environments.

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Re: Insurance and qualifications

Post by sean107 » Sun Aug 19, 2018 12:10 pm

Allan Olesen wrote:
Sun Aug 19, 2018 10:27 am


I have heard from more than one UK paddlers that in such cases, the UK authorities will put blame on the highest qualified member of the group, no matter if he/she was actually a leader of the group. For that reason, some highly qualified UK paddlers have stopped joining trips with less experienced paddlers.
That is tragic

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Re: Insurance and qualifications

Post by Owen » Sun Aug 19, 2018 1:38 pm

Allan Olesen wrote:
Sun Aug 19, 2018 10:27 am
Regarding peer paddles:



Here you are talking about the situation where one group member does something stupid, for which he is deemed responsible.

But what about the situation where the group does something which is stupid, and the authorities afterwards tries to find out who was responsible for the actions of the group? For example if the group went out in conditions which were too far above the skill level of all or some of the group members.

In that case, which group member will the authorities look at and say:
"You should have known that this was too dangerous, even if the other group members didn't know.
You should have stopped the group.
By not stopping the group, you showed negligence."

I have heard from more than one UK paddlers that in such cases, the UK authorities will put blame on the highest qualified member of the group, no matter if he/she was actually a leader of the group. For that reason, some highly qualified UK paddlers have stopped joining trips with less experienced paddlers.

There is a lot of ignorance and misunderstanding around this topic, much of it put out by the BCU as far as I can tell (but then maybe I'm biased). The above situation would be misadventure no matter what the rummer mill says. If "highly qualified UK paddlers" are no longer paddling with others they deem less experienced than them then that's their loss, and I would suggest has more to do with their ego's than the reality of the legal situation.

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Re: Insurance and qualifications

Post by sean107 » Sun Aug 19, 2018 2:57 pm

it's still tragedy whether it is the result if rumour or not :-(

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PhilAyr
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Re: Insurance and qualifications

Post by PhilAyr » Sun Aug 19, 2018 9:21 pm

If your worried about being sued why not get all members of your paddling group sign a disclaimer ?

Phil

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Robert Craig
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Re: Insurance and qualifications

Post by Robert Craig » Sun Aug 19, 2018 9:35 pm

Signing a disclaimer doesn't do much. It's only an indication that you gave consent to participation - but it doesn't prove the consent was informed consent.

I think negligence can still happen even with consent.

But I don't really know - I'm not a lawyer.

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Re: Insurance and qualifications

Post by Wets » Sun Aug 19, 2018 10:27 pm

This threads drifting a bit, so back to the OPs original question
sean107 wrote:
Thu Aug 16, 2018 8:20 pm

So whats to prevent soneone like me with a couple of years of paddling experience from taking club members out for a gentle paddle on the sea in fair weather - before I get a sea kayak leader award (which will take me a while) ?
.
Nothing is stopping you, if you do it as a peer paddle, with all the group aware of their own and others limit of ability and experience. You can even informally lead it.

I would think it unlikely however that you would get your club to call it a formal club trip if you only have a couple of years experience on the sea (assuming you have only been able to progress as fast/slow as most paddlers with a full time job do).

Club trip or not, just get out there and enjoy it. If everyone understands the limit of their competence and knows what they are getting themselves into, no need to worry.

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Robert Craig
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Re: Insurance and qualifications

Post by Robert Craig » Mon Aug 20, 2018 9:32 am

A I see it, if it's a formal club trip, the club committee are taking responsibility that the trip will be "sufficiently" safe. So those taking part don't have to do their own assessment of the leader. This is very valuable to members, who may not have the ability to do this assessment. To my mind, that's the core thing which a club provides to its members. The committee should be insured against negligently failing in this responsibility, and are if they are affiliated to the SCA/BCU/WCA etc.

Part of "safe" is having a competent leader.

Some (but not all) committees avoid the responsibility for deciding who is and isn't competent by relying solely on paper qualifications. Which is often sensible, but it may unnecessarily limit the club's activities.

What'd not sensible is using "insurance" as a excuse for not doing things.

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Re: Insurance and qualifications

Post by seawolf856 » Fri Aug 24, 2018 11:12 am

I am in this exact situation. I am a club member who has just been co-opted onto the club committee and due to the fact that I have completed more sea miles that most of the other casual sea kayakers in the club, I have been asked if I would like to organise and 'lead' some club trips. I have no formal leadership qualifications only a personal BCU level 3 sea kayaking certificate with coastal navigation module. However, the club committee reckons that as long as I submit my paddle plan to them and they approve it, I can take the group and be covered by the club insurance. I am risk averse and wouldn't run the trip if conditions were not suitable at the time of launch (subjective I know).
As I wanted to give something back to the club and in glorious ignorance of the legal consequences raised in this thread I have been taking groups out on club sea trips. I always log the trip with the CG using RYA Safetrx and I record a check list of the participants with signatures and emergency contact details, this includes a safety equipment tick list with a minimum requirement (PFD, spray deck & whistle) which must be complied with or the paddler is not allowed to put to sea. I also check that there are sufficient spare paddles, tow lines, pumps, VHF sets, flares and PLB's within the group and that I have enough paddlers with rescue training.
I do a safety talk on the beach and make sure everyone is happy to launch. However as we all know, conditions on the water can change, despite the forecast and unpredictable things can happen to put the group at risk (exhaustion, dehydration, panic, medical emergency, equipment failure) so there are no guarantees in this game that it will all go to plan.

Therefore on the surface of it, it would appear that 'reasonable precautions' have been taken, so why am I now thinking that I don't want to do this anymore??????

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Robert Craig
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Re: Insurance and qualifications

Post by Robert Craig » Fri Aug 24, 2018 11:17 am

...., the club committee reckons that as long as I submit my paddle plan to them and they approve it, I can take the group and be covered by the club insurance. ....
[/quote]

I believe that statement to be true. You are a club member, and it's a club trip ('cos the committee approved it). So you (and all those on the trip) are covered by the insurance.

Anyone disagree, bearing in mind that I'm not expert?

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Robert Craig
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Re: Insurance and qualifications

Post by Robert Craig » Fri Aug 24, 2018 11:18 am

And incidentally, I don't think it matters whether reasonable precautions have been taken. Not taking them would be negligence, but it's negligence insurance.

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Re: Insurance and qualifications

Post by Chris Bolton » Fri Aug 24, 2018 11:34 am

seawolf856, the BC Insurance FAQs do specifically address your situation, notwithstanding the ambiguities in the policy as discussed in this thread. I think you're insured.
BC FAQs wrote: Under the terms of the policy both "experience" and formal qualification is included. British Canoeing recognises the important work that goes on in clubs via experienced personnel. We would recommend that clubs ensure they audit these volunteers against their experience.
The types of activities being run by experienced individuals will typically include running basic and improver skills sessions, competitive training events, time trials or club trips or journeys.
Your experience and approach sound good to me (as a sea kayaker since 1982 and recently qualified Sea Kayak Leader) and your club are involved in approving what you do. You might want to keep a copy of the FAQs to quote if the worst happens. For the future, your club might think about developing some more leaders, and the BC award might be a useful contribution to that. Experience is key, but I did learn quite a bit by going through the training and assessment.

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Re: Insurance and qualifications

Post by Robert Craig » Fri Aug 24, 2018 12:07 pm

I've had a worry for some time that the FAQ quoted above and the insurance schedule document are in conflict. I tried to bottom this out by contacting both the broker and the BCU. The broker said (orally, so I can't substantiate it) that for club members, experience and qualifications were irrelevant. If you read the BCU FAQs carefully, they state that the insurance covers experienced but unqualified club members. They don't state the opposite: that it doesn't cover inexperienced and unqualified club members.

I challenged then to ad a FAQ answering the question: "Does the insurance cover inexperienced and unqualified club members." The response was: "That's not a frequently asked question". It took a whole string of emails and phone calls to not get a straight answer.

I was disappointed, and I don't understand why there isn't a clear answer.

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Re: Insurance and qualifications

Post by seawolf856 » Fri Aug 24, 2018 12:20 pm

Your experience and approach sound good to me (as a sea kayaker since 1982 and recently qualified Sea Kayak Leader) and your club are involved in approving what you do. You might want to keep a copy of the FAQs to quote if the worst happens. For the future, your club might think about developing some more leaders, and the BC award might be a useful contribution to that. Experience is key, but I did learn quite a bit by going through the training and assessment.
Thanks Chris, your contributions are always very valuable and interesting. I was considering doing some leader qualification in the future but this thread has thrown a cloud over the whole issue.
I did a Mountain Leadership Certificate back in the 80's but I've never lead a group in the mountains in my life. I did it to improve my own navigation and survival skills. I think the sea kayaking leadership training may benefit me in the same way it did for you and I may ask the club if they would be interested in 'developing' this particular leader :-)

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Re: Insurance and qualifications

Post by pathbrae » Fri Aug 24, 2018 4:45 pm

I challenged then to ad a FAQ answering the question: "Does the insurance cover inexperienced and unqualified club members." The response was: "That's not a frequently asked question". It took a whole string of emails and phone calls to not get a straight answer.
It's the "inexperienced and qualified" camp which we are seeing more and more who are often the most likely to get themselves and others into trouble.
"I've been paddling for a year and I've got my sea leaders badge, of course i can run a trip for you all across the Pentland Firth.... in December...... on sit-on-tops...... We'll drive up from Edinburgh, should be ready to paddle by about 3..... "

OK - I made (most) of that up but I'd still rather put my faith in someone who had been paddling for years and isn't dead yet than in some wonderkid who has spent most of their paddling hours training to pass an assessment, but very little in actually learning how fickle our weather and tides can be.
So much sea - so little time to see it.

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Re: Insurance and qualifications

Post by john.ruston » Fri Aug 24, 2018 8:10 pm

"OK - I made (most) of that up ..."
even so it was witty and rings true.

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Re: Insurance and qualifications

Post by Chris Bolton » Fri Aug 24, 2018 9:05 pm

I'd still rather put my faith in someone who had been paddling for years and isn't dead yet than in some wonderkid who has spent most of their paddling hours training to pass an assessment, but very little in actually learning how fickle our weather and tides can be
I absolutely agree, and it was the inexperienced but qualified people I met in my early years of paddling who put me off the BCU Awards. My rule of thumb was that if you didn't find out somebody's qualifications until after you'd paddled with them, they were probably OK, but to beware of anyone who made you aware of their qualifications without any reason to do so. As seawolf856 did with the MLC, I took the '4 star' award to improve my skills and my ability to be safe on the water.

I expect everybody in this thread would agree about the importance of experience, and the BC FAQs agree as well - where the problem arises is that the words in the insurance documents don't seem to line up. I think that's because it's a standard policy that is designed to cover any sport, originally written by somebody who only knows about tightly regulated competitive sports and stretched to not-quite-fit.

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Re: Insurance and qualifications

Post by Allan Olesen » Fri Aug 24, 2018 11:03 pm

seawolf856 wrote:
Fri Aug 24, 2018 11:12 am
Therefore on the surface of it, it would appear that 'reasonable precautions' have been taken, so why am I now thinking that I don't want to do this anymore??????
I can't answer that. I can't even understand how you got that thought after reading this thread.

Have you seen anything in this thread which suggests that a club member will be personally, financially responsible for accidents on a club trip where he was appointed as trip leader by the club?

Or to frame the question a bit more precisely:
If the club board, knowing the experience and qualifications of a given club member, have appointed said member as a trip leader, even though he was not competent to take that role, who is most likely to be held responsible if an accident happens during a club trip? The club member or the members of the club board?

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Re: Insurance and qualifications

Post by john.ruston » Sat Aug 25, 2018 9:03 am

Seawolf 856 clearly separates 'on the surface' from a nagging doubt he has.
Alan, I think this entire thread explains why he (and surely many others) are in this bind.
All of us agree about skill, experience and planning and carrying the means to give restitution to any we damage. However the fear of "what if" is a theme running right through this debate. I think that none of us really trust insurance to play a straight bat. So often our discussions end up with a scenario of distressed relatives and their personal injury lawyers creating some unexpected claims - maybe even just trying their luck on off chance of a payout. This is a fear, doesn't even have to be rational to cause us discomfort. So there I offer a tentative explanation of Seawolf's feeling of disinclination. It might also explain why some more experienced paddlers don't want to be bothered with beginners.
I can't be the only one who regards Claims Culture as an insidious cancer undermining the spirit of adventure and willingness to take a calculated risk. etc. etc. Thank heavens for solo paddling.

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Re: Insurance and qualifications

Post by Sean_soup » Sat Aug 25, 2018 11:42 am

pathbrae wrote:
Fri Aug 17, 2018 10:26 pm
If sea kayaking was always absolutely completely safe, would we do it? I'm not sure I would - or at least not for long as anything which is completely safe doesn't really stretch us or challenge us enough to keep us interested over the long term.
I think I would, if the challenge and experience remained the same just with the danger somehow magically taken out. It's hard to say for sure though, and since there is no way to magically remove the danger but leave the challenge the point is moot.

There's no doubt though that there is a deal of satisfaction to be found in assessing a risk (which requires knowledge and experience), managing the risk (through the use of appropriate kit and the application of skill), and ultimately accepting the risk that you just can't be prepared for *everything* that could possibly happen. The process is made explicit in "adventure" activities, paddling, rock climbing, etc.. but explicit or not I think it's there in just about anything worth doing.
"nobody was sued" I suspect the paddlers were aware of the risks and accepted responsibility for their own safety and possibly felt that the decision to continue had been theirs as much as anyone elses.
There's a key legal principle here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volenti_non_fit_injuria

Whether they want to or not, I don't think a reasonably experienced paddler could sue the leader of a group after being tipped out of their boat in a tide race, because it's a risk they voluntarily accepted going in. It would be different for a beginner under instruction, but only because they could reasonably argue that they did not understand the risk they were taking on - the instructor has a duty of care to decide for them.
"So far as I know, that leader (who did nothing wrong) has not been kayaking again...." That's the really sad part of the story. <some snippage> But it's a real shame if he hasn't paddled again - what a loss to us all to not have that sort of experience paddling with us.
It is a shame, as you say.
There's 'doing nothing wrong' and there's 'doing nothing wrong' isn't there? Just because the leader did nothing wrong, that isn't to say that he/she would have done things exactly the same with the benefit of hindsight. There are always lessons to be learned. If this leader had been able to learn from the experience and carry on instead of being traumatised by it and giving up, the 'experience paddling with us' might have been all the greater as a result.

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Re: Insurance and qualifications

Post by pathbrae » Sat Aug 25, 2018 12:17 pm

There are always lessons to be learned. If this leader had been able to learn from the experience and carry on instead of being traumatised by it and giving up, the 'experience paddling with us' might have been all the greater as a result.
My point exactly. It's good to be able to discuss events on line as we are doing here - but it's even more valuable to have that experience out with us on the water.
So much sea - so little time to see it.

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