Many sports event promoters and participants purchase insurance either as a precaution or because someone has mandated coverage and after that, don’t think much about it. After all, they assume everything is taken care of.
Unfortunately, insurance exists for a reason – and that reason is the unfortunate events: accidents, injuries and so forth, that can take place during any sports event. Insurance, however good, doesn’t prevent those things from happening; what it does do is allow you to breathe easier, knowing such incidents, even if they seem unlikely, are covered.
So when a potential claim occurs, what are the steps that your organization should take in order to respond in the best manner possible? Are you prepared to take the appropriate actions needed to report an incident? Do you have all the forms you need and the understanding of how to explain it to the injured party?
It’s time you set aside a few minutes to review the process of filing a claim. Knowing a few simple steps to take can not only help protect your organization but can allow you to stay calm and remain in control of the situation. (Remember that it’s easier to familiarize yourself with the process in advance, before it becomes an immediate and pressing need.)
Prior to any Event: Keep All Information Immediately Available
Have the proper paperwork on hand and be ready to use it. You don’t want to be searching around for the appropriate information in the event of an emergency – or even in the event of an injury that doesn’t constitute an emergency. You’ll want all the information at your fingertips. Take a few moments to make sure that information is available, and is able to be accessed by anyone onsite who needs it – tournament directors, for example. Develop a protocol for your staff so they too understand what needs to be done.
At the Time of the Claim: Gather All Necessary Information
Collecting information should be at the top of your priority list, according to K&K Insurance Chief Claims Officer Dean Reed. “The most important thing to do is to take down the information of the accusing party and advise the party that you will notify your insurance company so that they can investigate the matter,” said Reed. Taking photos of any damage and gathering the name and all contact information of the accusing party as well as any witness is an important first step that will assist in the management of the claim. “Another important element of the investigation is to determine if there were any surveillance cameras that captured the incident. If so, make sure the surveillance video is properly preserved,” Reed added.
After the Claim: Make Sure Information is Filed Promptly
Reed says that the insured should always immediately report the matter to their agent or insurance company. “I would recommend writing down as much information as possible about what you remember and what is being alleged because memories fade over the course of time,” said Reed. “Never assume any obligation or make any admissions of guilt or liability,” he added.
How the Process Works
After reporting the claim, the insured will work with a claims examiner and possibly an attorney defending their interests.
“The examiner will handle the investigation and advise the insured of the next steps and deal with the adverse party,” Reed said. “A sports event planner, coach or event participant without insurance is on their own to figure out what to do, who to contact and how to respond.”
And, according to Reed, an event organizer who forgets or chooses not to purchase coverage may be in for a rude awakening should an incident occur. “An event organizer without insurance incurs the financial costs and time to investigate, defend and possibly compensate another party for the claim against them. One with insurance has a company behind them that will handle the claim for them,” he added.
Insurance policies will define the duties of the insured should an incident occur. Every insured should read and understand their responsibilities in the event of a potential claim. Sample language from an insurance policy includes some of the following duties expected of an insured:
You must see to it that we are notified as soon as practicable of an occurrence or an offense which may result in a claim. To the extent possible, notice should include:
(1) How, when and where the occurrence or offense took place;
(2) The names and addresses of any injured persons and witnesses; and
(3) The nature and location of any injury or damage arising out of the occurrence or offense.
If a claim is made or suit is brought against any insured, you must:
(1) Immediately record the specifics of the claim or suit and the date received; and
(2) Notify us as soon as practicable. You must see to it that we receive written notice of the claim or suit as soon as practicable.
You and any other involved insured must:
(1) Immediately send us copies of any demands, notices, summonses or legal papers received in connection with the claim or suit;
(2) Authorize us to obtain records and other information;
(3) Cooperate with us in the investigation or settlement of the claim or defense against the suit; and
(4) Assist us, upon our request, in the enforcement of any right against any person or organization which may be liable to the insured because of injury or damage to which this insurance may also apply.
No insured will, except at that insured’s own cost, voluntarily make a payment, assume any obligation, or incur any expense, other than for first aid, without our consent.
Know Your Policy
In addition to purchasing liability coverage, K&K Senior Vice President Mark Beck adds that event organizers should always review and understand any written agreements the planner signs. Beck notes, “In many cases a written agreement will include specific insurance requirements and the event organizer should share those details with their insurance agent or company.
“A venue contract will often require that an event organizer add the venue to their policy as an additional insured (AI) on their event policy,” Beck said. This is a common practice when purchasing coverage but some insurance companies will charge additional premium to add an AI. Event planners may want to ask how AIs are managed when purchasing their coverage, or work with an organization that does not charge extra premium to add venues or other entities as an additional insured.
Beck also points out that contracts with an event venue often include a clause wherein the event organizer agrees to hold harmless the venue for any loss or damage that occurs and organizers should be aware of those provisions and discuss with their insurance provider. “If a loss occurs,” said Beck, “Be sure to share all written agreements with the insurance company during the claims process.”
Onsite injuries or accidents are a worrisome concept, but with proper planning and an understanding of your policy, you can help manage your risk. Regular reviews of your policy, planning with staff regarding the proper paper trail for any incidents or injuries, and checking with your insurance provider to make sure everything is up to date can help immeasurably if a crisis should arise. SDM