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Church's liability on youth trips
Old 05-13-2012, 06:28 PM   #1
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Church's liability on youth trips

Does anybody have experience with this? I intend on contacting the church's insurance agent, but thought I'd ask here as well.

Situation: A 12-person Club Wagon will be rented to take youth to a week-long camp. Trip will be approx. 10 hours away. The van will be driven by the pastor and an unpaid youth coordinator.

Question: Since this would be a rental, would the church's insurance normally cover all the types of damage possibilities (medical and property on the attendees and others not in the van)? I have poked around on the internet and there is some coverage sold by companies called "Non-owned vehicle insurance".

Didn't know if anyone has experience with groups using rented vehicles.
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Old 05-13-2012, 06:34 PM   #2
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Vehicle insurance is not the only risk. I would also be worried about sexual abuse. If I had a child I would not allow him/her to go on this trip.
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Old 05-13-2012, 08:21 PM   #3
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This is a tough one for church groups, but in these litigious times there is probably a great deal of risk exposure as you describe it.

I volunteer at our church's homeless feeding program and asked simular questions of those "in charge" and was told that they are aware and concerned of the legal exposure and risks, but can not afford legal advice or insurance to cover the risk so they are self insuring as well as doing a lot of praying!
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Old 05-13-2012, 08:47 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by Meadbh View Post
Vehicle insurance is not the only risk. I would also be worried about sexual abuse. If I had a child I would not allow him/her to go on this trip.
Understand. In this case, all the youth are high school sophomores and above.
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Old 05-14-2012, 12:43 PM   #5
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Vehicle insurance is not the only risk. I would also be worried about sexual abuse. If I had a child I would not allow him/her to go on this trip.
Unfortunately the prominent scandals within certain subsegments of "the church" (as in the collection of religious institutions overall) have given people many the impression that all churches are hotbeds for sexual abuse. The facts do not support that.

Having said that, many church groups no longer sponsor youth trips precisely because the scandals in these subsegments -- and the overgeneralized "church = sex abuse" mentality it has placed in much people -- have led insurance companies to refuse to cover liability for these trips.
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Old 05-14-2012, 12:46 PM   #6
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Unfortunately the prominent scandals within certain subsegments of "the church" (as in the collection of religious institutions overall) have given people many the impression that all churches are hotbeds for sexual abuse. The facts do not support that.

Having said that, many church groups no longer sponsor youth trips precisely because the scandals in these subsegments -- and the overgeneralized "church = sex abuse" mentality it has placed in much people -- have led insurance companies to refuse to cover liability for these trips.
Many churches also utilize the Boy Scouts Co-Ed Venturing program as a layer of protection to guard against these problems. They offer training to help learn how to avoid potential issues, and a deep layer of insurance protection to their member groups.
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Old 05-14-2012, 01:07 PM   #7
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Understand. In this case, all the youth are high school sophomores and above.
So, they are all old enough to sexually abuse each other.

Please don't say that doesn't go on at chuch camps.

You have several layers of insurance questions. First is vehicle accidents. The second is for accidents at the camp. The third which seems to be getting all the attention is professional misconduct or neglect by the church staff. I would expect the church to have a comprehensive insurance policy but release forms from the parents waiving the right to sue if little Buffy decides to go parasgliding off a cliff without a glider. The youth should also expect to have the family insurance cover any medical expenses should little Buffy survive the fall.
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Old 05-14-2012, 03:52 PM   #8
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Those large vans 12/15p vans are notorious for tipping over.

My experience has been that the agency (the church, in this case) will have the insurance to cover everything. I always had to sign my name as <agency name>/eridanus to ensure that I was covered. Otherwise, it was under my personal policy.

In later years, we were told to always get the rental insurance. It's expensive, especially for a non-profit, but an accident could wipe out a non-profit. We were also encouraged to use 7p minivans instead of 12/15p vans.
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Old 05-14-2012, 04:01 PM   #9
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So, they are all old enough to sexually abuse each other.
High school sophomores ? More than old enough (note: linked text is at The Onion, contains vulgarity.)
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Old 05-14-2012, 04:14 PM   #10
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DS went on an out-of-state church trip at that age, before cell phones were everywhere, with a youth pastor and his spouse. Their big old bus broke down on the way home so it was towed down the Interstate on a flat bed truck. With the kids still in it. Even DS admitted it was scary.

So you might want to check what happens if the bus breaks down, Gindie .
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Old 05-14-2012, 05:42 PM   #11
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So, they are all old enough to sexually abuse each other.
In these circumstances it is not called abuse, it is called satisfaction.

Ha
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Old 05-14-2012, 09:05 PM   #12
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Vehicle insurance is not the only risk. I would also be worried about sexual abuse. If I had a child I would not allow him/her to go on this trip.
I agree...2 chaperones, but how many youths?
Some of the wildest stories I've heard have come from these "sleepover" type camp/retreat trips, and the stories did not involve any adults. Perhaps you or another trusted parent could volunteer to be another chaperone for the trip.
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