Do you need employer's liability insurance for volunteers?

Do you need employer's liability insurance for volunteers?

All employers are required by law to insure against liability for injury to their employees which could arise out of their employment.

Employers have a responsibility to maintain a safe working environment for employees, and failure to do so could result in a claim being made against them by the employee to seek compensation. However, volunteers and employees aren't the same thing, which begs the question: do you need employer's liability insurance for volunteers?

What exactly is employer's liability insurance?

Employer's liability insurance covers against allegations of injury or illness to employees arising our of their employment; it a legal requirement for any organisation, including charities, that has employees on a full-time or part-time basis. The employer's Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act 1969 requires employers to have a minimum limit of £5m, although many insurers offer higher levels of cover.

To give an example of a claim, if an employee were to trip and fall on a wire while carrying out work for your charity, injured themselves and made a claim, employer's liability insurance would cover the costs of defending against the allegation as well as compensation payments.

Do charities need employer's liability insurance for volunteers?

While some charities believe they don't need the cover if they don't have any paid staff on their books, they still have a duty of care for volunteers as they do for their paid employees. Having adequate insurance in place for volunteers is essential.

Unfortunately, there is not a definitive answer as to whether you need employer's liability insurance to cover your volunteers. Insuring your volunteers against injury and illness usually falls into one of two covers - either public liability insurance or employer's liability insurance - depending on your charity's insurance policy. If you're unsure which it is, speak to your insurer or broker.

Without the right insurance cover in place, if a claim for injury or illness is brought against your charity by a volunteer, you may have to defend it with the charity's own funds.

Markel insurance policies cover volunteers under employer's liability insurance (with a limit of £10m) which covers against allegations of injury or illness suffered by both your employees and volunteers; for further information, visit our charity insurance page.

Is there anything else charities should know?

The Charity Commission states that charities must take out employer's liability insurance only from a company working under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (such as Markel), as they maintain a register of authorised insurers. They also require charities to prominently display their employer's Liability certificate, showing that a valid policy has been taken out with the minimum level of cover.

Please note this is not a policy document and contains only general descriptions and illustrations. Policyholders must refer to the actual policy issued for the binding terms, conditions and exclusions of cover.

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