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Some facts about our insurance claims experience

Another of those Scouting myths is that there is a great risk of being sued if you are a Leader or Youth Worker. As is so often the case, reality is somewhat different.

I mentioned earlier in December that I had attended a meeting with the man who manages insurance claims on behalf of the Association through a firm of solicitors called Kennedys. In briefing us on recent claims experience and trends, Andrew noted that a rising number of ‘no win, no fee’ legal practices and direct marketing of potential claimants, whilst not particularly increasing the number of claims the Association has been experiencing, has led to a significant increase in claimants costs being sought. Although the general level of claims from young people in particular has been on the decline we have noticed an increase in claims from adults. This is often from adults trying to participate in activities as well as a noticeable increase in claims resulting from falling on slippery outside areas for example.

The Association treads a very careful line between ensuring that genuine claimants are quickly reimbursed for costs incurred following an incident as well as properly compensated for any subsequent impact this may have on them whilst at the same time ensuring that we are not seen as a ‘soft touch’ from those individuals that sadly may seek to make claims that are not genuine or seen to be justified. It is a tribute to our staff at Unity (Scout Insurance Services) and partners such as Kennedys and Willis that we seem to have done so well in treading this line.

Of course, we could avoid some of the increasing claims through better risk management (of adults!), not particularly in activities although we must always remain vigilant in that respect, but through simple housekeeping. 

In this respect, we are currently working on some additional guidance and a review of letting conditions for example on local Scout buildings to help reduce the number and impact of such claims.

Continued vigilance will ensure that not only is Scouting seen to be a safe but adventurous activity but that adults learn to look after themselves just a little bit better perhaps!

Don't forget that Unity have a unique understanding of the insurance needs of groups and members, especially when it comes to those risks that general insurers or brokers do not fully understand and may not be so ready to pay for. Do give them a call when your insurance next falls due.




By Robert Walker
on 29/12/2009 00:49

As a Chartered Insurance Practitioner and a cub leader, I was expecting more from this article, like some facts. and examples. Generalisation with out examples (depersonilsed to protect the guilty and innocence) would be useful. How can we learn from risk assessments without knowledge.

In the magazines aimed at leaders, examples of good and bad prectice and lessons to be learnt should be provided.


By Wayne Bulpitt
on 29/12/2009 07:15

Hi Robert,

Sorry to have disappointed you but you will be pleased to know that a more detailed report on our accident and insurance experience is planned for a future edition of Scouting Magazine.

The purpose of the blog was to give an early heads up on the information and to share a personal reflection.

Hope this helps to reassure,

By Mark Pullen
on 29/12/2009 09:47

To use a quote from your blog Wayne, maybe the adults who claim should "tread carefully" on slippery outdoor surfaces!!

By Cliff Meadowcroft
on 07/01/2010 09:14

As a GSL and Construction Professional I have found that there are many ways to undertake and record a risk assessment and mitigation measures. May be the Scout Association should produce a template for all Leaders to use to do their Risk Assessments with. Given Scouting's unique expertise we should be able to bolt-on and excellent suite of documents to undetake most activities, the first might be "The Scout Hut".

By Mark Westwood
on 09/01/2010 14:40

Risk Assessments are covered in various factsheets including the one at www.scoutbase.org.uk/library/hqdocs/facts/pdfs/fs120000.pdf

By Paul Austin
on 09/01/2010 20:16

Having recently injuredy myself parachuting with my Explorers and fellow leaders. I took the view that I belive most leaders would that I am doing this of my own free will and accept the risks. The concept of "Volenti non fit Injuria" in legal speak. I belive we should record accidents to see what we can do better, but by the very nature of what we do in scouting without some risk it would be very boring! Therefore I cant imagine why any leader or helper would even attempt to make a claim! Maybe they should all read "life snags and how to face them" and see what BP had to say about facing risks. Maybe we should even make it a condition that they sign to say they will never claim from the organisation.

two recomendations though: firstly we need a simpler form just to record the simple facts of an incident. I can see why the current form is needed for serious incidents, but for a sprained ankle that will never lead to a claim. 17 pages of form?

Secondally, the HSE are now pointing out that particularly in construction (which I have kowledge of) too much time is spent on producing risk assesments and method statements and yet the accient rate is not imporving. In other words we are all getting too worried about making sure we have got a pit of paper to protect ourselves from those no win no fee guys to be doing what we should be doing and watching what people are doing and providing guidance.

By John Bright
on 16/01/2010 20:17

Just follow POR, the Guidance in Factsheets and the check lists and you can’t go far wrong. Your employer would expect you to follow their corporate policy; voluntary organisations are exactly the same. If you follow those policies then you will not be held liable, deviate from them and you will be standing yourself into danger. As a H&S professional and Scout Leader I’ve taken a fair bit of stick over the years from my Scouting colleagues, but now it is taken as the norm and they now all expect it. Just keep it simple, use the generic examples available, save them and review then the next time the activity occurs. If you are not sure ask advice of the District/County adviser for the activity
If you are really into it get a copy of the HSE’s publication ‘Adventure activities centres: five steps to risk assessment’ £4.50 from HSE books. But the Factsheet is just as good and cheaper!

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