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Volunteering and liability
Old 01-31-2018, 05:42 PM   #1
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Volunteering and liability

I have been a Range Safety Officer at our local indoor shooting range for a long time. It's all volunteer run and we are not covered by any liability insurance. My understanding is that the range itself has coverage, but it doesn't extend to us.

Lately I've been wondering how smart it is to continue doing this work. I really enjoy it, but if something happened (nothing ever has, and it's a small chance it would...but it could) and I got sued, it could wipe me out.

I have repeatedly asked about insurance and been told "we'll check on it", and then nothing ever happens.

Has anyone else ever given up volunteer work because of the possibility of a lawsuit, no matter how remote?
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Old 01-31-2018, 05:44 PM   #2
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Old 01-31-2018, 05:55 PM   #3
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Run
Probably good advice
I just hate to give it up because I enjoy it....
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Old 01-31-2018, 05:58 PM   #4
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Or you can shop for your own insurance that would cover that kind of liability.
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Old 01-31-2018, 06:18 PM   #5
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You probably have an umbrella liability policy. Read its "Exclusions" section very carefully. What you are doing as RSO is a hobby, not a job. IANAL or an insurance expert but my guess is that you will conclude that you are covered.

If you have an independent insurance agent you could probably ask him/her. If a tied agent (State Farm, Allstate, etc.) I would not ask; their loyalty is to the insurance company not to you.
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Old 01-31-2018, 07:08 PM   #6
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I have been a Range Safety Officer at our local indoor shooting range for a long time. It's all volunteer run and we are not covered by any liability insurance.
This is as far as I read before thinking: "Run!". I can't imagine an outfit--especially one dealing with firearms, of all things!--not providing serious liability coverage for everybody involved.

This is one of the perils of slow wealth accumulation. People don't think of themselves as wealthy or being at serious risk of exposure in such matters and carry on as they did when they had a lot less to lose.

Good friend of mine --a wealthy trust funder--was driving for Uber just for fun. He suddenly realized that almost every one of his fares was a 28 year old young woman. Being alone in a car with them, he suddenly realized how much 'danger' he could be in and quit the next day.

At the same time, the range could still be faced with liability exposure on something you did regardless of if they have you covered.
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Old 02-01-2018, 12:03 AM   #7
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I've spent most of my career managing volunteers. I also volunteer myself. EVERY place I've worked had errors and officers insurance, etc in place. This is a necessity.
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Old 02-01-2018, 01:16 AM   #8
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+1

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Old 02-01-2018, 07:55 AM   #9
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How collectible are you? I am under the impression that most retirement assets are exempt. Should understand this before purchasing an umbrella policy.

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Old 02-01-2018, 08:18 AM   #10
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I do the same thing. I do not worry about it, and the range has liability insurance. I am sure it covers you.

As a Range officer, you are not doing any shooting. You are just (attempting) to make the range safe. Talk to your own homeowners insurance agent too.

If you are worried about this, you better start worrying about cars crashing on the street in front of your home. You could be liable there too. Of if you give directions to someone and they crash later. Of if you are walking down the street and an asteroid hits.
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Old 02-01-2018, 08:32 AM   #11
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You need to ask two questions to two different insurance companies.

1. Range's Insurer: Who is an "Insured" under your liability policy ? It typically includes employees and volunteers. Find out what it takes to be considered an "insured"

2. Ask your Homeowners & Umbrella company (you do have an Umbrella, don't you?) if this type of activity would be excluded. Basically everything you do is covered, unless it is excluded in the policy. That is why there are pages of exclusions. Unless excluded, it's covered. It doesn't sound like you're being compensated in any way so I don't think the business use exclusion would apply.

I was a volunteer firearms safety instructor for our state's DNR for many years. They provided us with a written certificate of insurance showing we were covered for a very comfortable limit of liability.
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Old 02-01-2018, 08:56 AM   #12
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2. Ask your Homeowners & Umbrella company (you do have an Umbrella, don't you?) if this type of activity would be excluded. Basically everything you do is covered, unless it is excluded in the policy. That is why there are pages of exclusions. Unless excluded, it's covered. It doesn't sound like you're being compensated in any way so I don't think the business use exclusion would apply.
Our umbrella insurance carrier underwrites our policy each year just prior to renewal to determine any changes...assets (rental homes, add'l cars and drivers, etc.) as well as changes to employment type activities. Call them to be sure you are covered.
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Old 02-01-2018, 09:12 AM   #13
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A fraternal religious organization I belong to is considering partnering with another group that takes teenagers down to poverty areas in Appalachia, and repairs/remodels shacks/homes. I am quite handy when it comes to repairs, but think of all the liability issues with this scenario. There is about 100 teens, 75 adults, driving down in personal autos, working on previously scouted out homes and making repairs.

One would have to be completely nuts to preform this seemingly innocent task in today's environment. Driving liability, false accusations regarding adults/fellow teens, possible drug/alcohol use, use of power tools in untrained hands, possible electrical shock from inexperience/prior unsafe wiring,fire potential, inexperience/ plumbing waste into storm drains, broken pipes, to name a few.

No way Jose, am I even thinking about it, despite numerous requests for my involvement.
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Old 02-01-2018, 09:26 AM   #14
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It seems incredibly irresponsible for the range not to carry insurance for its volunteers. Just ask to see their insurance policy. If not satisfied that it covers you, quit.
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Old 02-01-2018, 09:35 AM   #15
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I think insurance is available from both NRA and private insurance companies. Here is an example of a private offering:
https://www.phly.com/products/ShootingRange.aspx

Seems foolish for a range not to have coverage. I would also think they could provide you with a release of liability and hold harmless agreement to protect you.
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Old 02-01-2018, 11:31 AM   #16
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This is as far as I read before thinking: "Run!". I can't imagine an outfit--especially one dealing with firearms, of all things!--not providing serious liability coverage for everybody involved.

This is one of the perils of slow wealth accumulation. People don't think of themselves as wealthy or being at serious risk of exposure in such matters and carry on as they did when they had a lot less to lose.

Good friend of mine --a wealthy trust funder--was driving for Uber just for fun. He suddenly realized that almost every one of his fares was a 28 year old young woman. Being alone in a car with them, he suddenly realized how much 'danger' he could be in and quit the next day.

At the same time, the range could still be faced with liability exposure on something you did regardless of if they have you covered.
It didn't really occur to me until I retired that I was putting myself at risk. My BIL drives for Uber and doesn't carry car insurance for it, although I am assuming his regular insurance doesn't cover it. I mentioned it to him several times, he pooh-poohed it. He also wasn't reporting the income or paying quarterlies on the income.
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Old 02-01-2018, 11:35 AM   #17
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I hate to pay money out of my own pocket to volunteer. I feel the range should provide it. I finally got an answer, and that is that we are not covered.
I'm going to work my next shift and then give notice. I belong to another range that pays their RO's minimum wage in order to consider them as employees so that they fall under the range insurance. I think I will switch my time over to them, and then donate the salary back to the range.
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Old 02-01-2018, 11:38 AM   #18
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If you are worried about this, you better start worrying about cars crashing on the street in front of your home. You could be liable there too. Of if you give directions to someone and they crash later. Of if you are walking down the street and an asteroid hits.
In none of those cases am I directly responsible for the safety of the people. At the range I am, hence the name Range Safety Officer
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Old 02-01-2018, 11:46 AM   #19
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Senator and Old Shooter are correct that unpaid volunteer activities are covered under almost all homeowners and umbrella policies.

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How collectible are you? I am under the impression that most retirement assets are exempt. Should understand this before purchasing an umbrella policy.
While it's broadly accurate that pension benefits and similar income are generally exempt from garnishment, that protection usually does not extend to real property and liquid assets (stocks, bonds, etc.) held outside a registered retirement account.

This issue depends upon the legislation of the particular jurisdiction, so anyone who intends to rely upon it would do well to consult a local lawyer.

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The range has liability insurance. I am sure it covers you.
Are you? I'm not.

The range's policy might or might not cover individual range officers. And for that matter, the policy might not even be current: maybe the range is strapped for cash, or perhaps the bookkeeper simply forgot to pay the premium when the last renewal came around.

Unless and until the policy is produced, it would be imprudent to assume anything. SheitlQueen's enquires are not unreasonable. The fact that s/he has been repeatedly stonewalled is not confidence inspiring.

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As a Range officer, you are not doing any shooting. You are just (attempting) to make the range safe.
Well, yes but ... so what?

If you're implying that a range officer has little or no liability exposure, I disagree. If shooter X accidentally wounds or kills shooter Y, X will obviously be sued but any competent plaintiff layer will also sue the range officer, alleging that he or she failed to supervise X, knew or ought to have known that X was unsafe or unreliable, failed to take all reasonable steps to ensure Y's safety, etc. Even if those allegations are ultimately dismissed, in the meantime the range officer will incur significant legal expenses.

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I do the same thing. I do not worry about it.... If you are worried about this, you better start worrying about cars crashing on the street in front of your home. You could be liable there too. Or if you give directions to someone and they crash later. Or if you are walking down the street and an asteroid hits.
I have more sympathy for this. Senator is right that we all face multiple potential liabilities and that the sensible thing is to lead our lives without worrying about them overmuch. Just conduct yourself in a reasonable fashion and hope for the best, PROVIDED always that you have adequate liability insurance in place.
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Old 02-01-2018, 11:47 AM   #20
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I hate to pay money out of my own pocket to volunteer. I feel the range should provide it. I finally got an answer, and that is that we are not covered.
I'm going to work my next shift and then give notice. I belong to another range that pays their RO's minimum wage in order to consider them as employees so that they fall under the range insurance. I think I will switch my time over to them, and then donate the salary back to the range.
I would do same thing. Seriously, one AD and who's to blame. Doesn't have to be an AD!

Ask the fool who put 8.6 grains of w231(357 mag charge) in a 38 special.😁
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