Insurance Coverage of Clubs - update

April 14, 2013
TO:        Member Clubs of Orienteering USA
FROM:    Peter Goodwin

Representatives of Member Clubs:

On April 1st, it was determined that Orienteering USA did not have complete insurance coverage for its clubs or people participating in our events who were not members of OUSA. Apparently this has been the case since approximately 2007. There is presently a system in place to that corrects this situation but it involves all clubs having all participants as members of Orienteering USA. This can be done through normal annual membership or becoming a “day member” (without the benefits provided for the annual members). The Executive Committee approved this expenditure and has communicated the related issues with the Orienteering USA board.

For the balance of the year all event entrants who are not OUSA members will have to sign a modified waiver granting those entrants a complementary one event membership to OUSA that provides no benefits except temporary insurance coverage.  All clubs must follow through on this to be covered by the insurance policy provided by Orienteering USA to member clubs. This method allows us to have all participants at our orienteering events considered members of OUSA so it provides what the insurers demand in order to provide complete insurance.

The problem is associated with how insurance companies insure sporting organizations. The two models that the insurance companies use are: 1) all participants are members of the organization or 2) they insure particular events. The first works well for an organization such as the National Lacrosse Association. If you want to join a local club or go to a sponsored camp, you must become a member of the national organization (in a similar process to our event registration) prior to becoming a member of the club or going to the camp. This means all participants are members. In the case of lacrosse, people join the organization because they have either played in school, the backyard or wherever, are familiar with the sport and want to continue learning the sport. Orienteering is different, most events in the US are sponsored by our clubs and first timers don’t know if they really like orienteering so would not want to take the step to join the national organization in order to compete for a weekend event. The event membership that we must provide makes all participants members of OUSA although they don’t have the normal membership rights. Insuring all events (method #2) on an event by event basis would be prohibitively expense, especially for small clubs, with a rough figure of $300 per event. (Note that with approximately 600 events nationwide in a year, this would come to $180,000.)

At this time, a group of Board Members has been formed to begin to investigate insurance plans moving forward.  I will serve as an Ex Officio member of this work group.  This group will be responsible for identifying our future path and may require a bylaws change. We may ultimately continue with our same insurance carrier or we may find a new insurer in 2014. A status report and recommendations will be provided at the May Board Meeting.

Should you have any questions, don’t hesitate to call or email me, president [at] OrienteeringUSA [dot] org .

Find the new waiver here: