Every year, up to 20 percent of the population in the United States contracts the flu virus. The effects of flu vary
from mild symptoms to severe illness and complications, including death. Disease experts have calculated that
once every 30 to 40 years, pandemic influenza affects people globally, resulting in a significantly greater number
of illness and deaths than the annual flu.

How flu spreads

Flu viruses spread in respiratory droplets through person-to-person or other close contact. Most adults can infect
others beginning one day before symptoms develop and from up to five to seven days after becoming sick. This
means that you can pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick.
Human influenza viruses generally can survive on surfaces for two to eight hours.

Good health habits

Maintaining good health habits is important to keep you healthy and to minimize the spread of the influenza
virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other health organizations suggest exercising
regularly, getting enough rest and eating healthful balanced meals, in addition to a number of precautions to help
protect yourself and others from transmitting the flu. These precautions may include, but are not limited to:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick. Keep your distance from others to help protect them from getting sick too.
  • Stay home when you are sick. Prevent others from catching your illness.
  • Keep your hands clean. Wash your hands often and rub hands vigorously for at least 20 seconds. If you do not have access to water and soap, use alcohol-based gels or hand sanitizers.
  • Cover your mouth and nose. Use a tissue when coughing or sneezing to help prevent spreading the virus or, as the CDC suggests, sneeze or cough into your arm or sleeve. Viral droplets are less likely to spread doing this than coughing into your hands.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs are often spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth.

For additional information visit the CDC website. The information provided in this document by Travelers is intended for use as a guideline and is not intended as, nor does it constitute, legal or professional advice. Travelers does not warrant that adherence to, or compliance with, any recommendations, best practices, checklists, or guidelines will result in a particular outcome. In no event will Travelers, or any of its subsidiaries or affiliates, be liable in tort or in contract to anyone who has access to or uses this information for any purpose. Travelers does not warrant that the information in this document constitutes a complete and finite list of each and every item or procedure related to the topics or issues referenced herein. Furthermore, federal, state, provincial, municipal or local laws, regulations, standards or codes, as is applicable, may change from time to time and the user should always refer to the most current requirements. This material does not amend, or otherwise affect, the provisions or coverages of any insurance policy or bond issued by Travelers, nor is it a representation that coverage does or does not exist for any particular claim or loss under any such policy or bond. Coverage depends on the facts and circumstances involved in the claim or loss, all applicable policy or bond provisions, and any applicable law.

Read More

CDC recommends a three-step approach to fighting influenza (flu). The first and most important step is to get a flu vaccination each year. But if you get the flu, there are prescription antiviral drugs that can treat your illness. Early treatment is especially important for the elderly, the very young, people with certain chronic health conditions, and pregnant women. Finally, everyday preventive actions may slow the spread of germs that cause respiratory (nose, throat, and lungs) illnesses, like flu.

How does the flu spread?

Flu viruses are thought to spread mainly from person to person through droplets made when people with flu cough, sneeze, or talk. Flu viruses also may spread when people touch something with flu virus on it and then touch their mouth, eyes, or nose. Many other viruses spread these ways too.People infected with flu may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5-7 days after becoming sick. That means you may be able to spread the flu to someone else before you know you are sick as well as while you are sick. Young children, those who are severely ill, and those who have severely weakened immune systems may be able to infect others for longer than 5-7 days.

What are everyday preventive actions?

  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • If you or your child gets sick with flu-like illness, CDC recommends that you (or your child) stay home for at least 24 hours after the fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. The fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.
  • While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with germs like the flu.
  • If an outbreak of flu or another illness occurs, follow public health advice. This may include information about how to increase distance between people and other measures.

What additional steps can I take at work to help stop the spread of germs that can cause respiratory illness, like flu?

  • Find out about your employer’s plans if an outbreak of flu or another illness occurs and whether flu vaccinations are offered on-site.
  • Routinely clean frequently touched objects and surfaces, including doorknobs, keyboards, and phones, to help remove germs.
  • Make sure your workplace has an adequate supply of tissues, soap, paper towels, alcohol-based hand rubs, and disposable wipes.
  • Train others on how to do your job so they can cover for you in case you or a family member gets sick and you have to stay home.
  • If you begin to feel sick while at work, go home as soon as possible.

For more information, please visit www.cdc.gov/flu or call 1-800-CDC-INFO

Read More

A pandemic is a global disease outbreak. An influenza pandemic occurs when a new influenza virus emerges for which there is little or no immunity in the human population begins to cause serious illness and then spreads easily person-to-person worldwide. Planning for pandemic influenza by business and industry is essential to minimize a pandemic’s impact.

The risk for infection can be reduced through a combination of actions. No single action provides complete protection, but a combined approach can help decrease the likelihood of transmission. To aid in pandemic contingency planning, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has suggested the following steps that every employer can take to reduce the risk of exposure to pandemic influenza in their workplace, which also applies to our chapter facilities:

  • People who are sick with an influenza-like illness (ILI) (fever plus at least cough or sore throat and possibly other symptoms like runny nose, body aches, headaches, chills, fatigue, vomiting, and diarrhea) should stay home and keep away from others as much as possible, including avoiding travel, for at least 24 hours after fever is gone. (Fever should be gone without the use of fever-reducing medicine.)
  • Encourage employees and members to wash their hands frequently with soap and water or with hand sanitizer if there is no soap or water available. Also, encourage employees and members to avoid touching their noses, mouths, and eyes.
  • Encourage employees and residents to cover their coughs and sneezes with a tissue, or to cough and sneeze into their upper sleeves if tissues are not available. Employees and members should wash their hands or use a hand sanitizer after they cough, sneeze, or blow their noses.
  • Employees should avoid close contact with their coworkers and residents. They should avoid shaking hands and always wash their hands after contact with others. Even if employees wear gloves, they should wash their hands upon removal of the gloves incase their hand(s) became contaminated during the removal process.
  • Provide extra tissues and trash receptacles and a place to wash or disinfect hands for all guests, employees, and residents.
  • Keep work surfaces, desks, computers, and other frequently touched surfaces clean. Use only disinfectants registered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and follow all directions and safety precautions indicated on the label.
  • Discourage employees and members from using other people’s phones, desks, laptops, or other tools and equipment.
  • Minimize situations, such as in a meeting, where groups of people are crowded together. Use e-mail, phones, and text messages to communicate with each other. When meetings are necessary, avoid close contact by keeping a separation of at least 6 ft, where possible, and assure that there is proper ventilation in the meeting room.
  • Reduce or eliminate unnecessary social interactions, which can be very effective in controlling the spread of infectious diseases. Reconsider all situations that permit or require employees, members, and visitors (including family members) to enter the facility. Chapters may want to consider restricting/eliminating guest visitation options during an influenza pandemic.
  • Promote healthy lifestyles, including vaccination for seasonal flu, good nutrition, exercise, and smoking cessation. A person’s overall health impacts their body’s immune system and can affect their ability to fight off, or recover from, an infectious disease.

More detailed planning information is available from OSHA in Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for an Influenza Pandemic (OSHA 3327-02N). Information is also available from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) at PandemicFlu.Gov. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) released a planning guide for small businesses.

Read More

The Indiana State Police have released a series of tips to help residents avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.  Carbon monoxide (CO2) is an odorless, colorless and tasteless gas that does not cause irritation to the eyes or throat.  Often victims don’t realize they are inhaling toxic gas until they become ill.  More than 500 people die annually from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide exposure:

  • Flu-like symptoms with no fever
  • Nausea, vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Irregular breathing
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Drowsiness
  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Feeling better after leaving a particular structure but feeling ill upon return

Safety measures to prevent exposure:

  • Purchase a carbon monoxide detector for every level of your home.  Don’t ignore the alarm when it is activated.  Open the windows and leave the structure until the carbon monoxide has been located.
  • Have your traditional heating system inspected annually.
  • Never warm up a motor vehicle in a garage even if a door is open; have your vehicle checked for exhaust leaks.
  • Be sure all fuel burning sources like has and wood stoves, fire places and portable heaters are working properly and their flues or chimneys have been inspected.
  • Never burn charcoal indoors.
  • Never use a gas range or oven for home heating.
  • Never use gasoline or diesel powered electric generators in an enclosed area.
  • If the structure you are in is air tight and lacks ventilation, crack open a window for fresh air.

Excerpted from IndyStar.com

Read More Read More

Athletic sports embody everything about the competitive spirit while teaching players about team dynamics and the rules of fair play. But there is some degree of risk in playing the game – especially if the limits of strength, endurance and speed are pushed. “Athletes who push the limits sometimes don’t recognize their own limitations…,” says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This can lead to injuries and illness, including sprains and strains, heat illness, concussions and heart failure.

Educational institutions, both public and private, and parks and recreation departments that sponsor competitive sports programs should have a safety and health program that promotes sound practices to help athletes play it safe and stay healthy. Programs may vary depending on the age of participants and the level of competition. In all cases, they should be reviewed routinely to help ensure they are current and comply with applicable state laws and athletic association bylaws as appropriate. They also should review the best practices promoted by athletic associations, such as the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the National Federation of State High School Association, state high school and middle school athletic associations and coaches associations, among others.  

Coaches, athletes, school officials and parents all play an important role in helping to ensure safe practices in competitive sports. When a player is not playing it safe or a health issue or injury is suspected, the player should be taken out of play. In instances of an injury or suspected injury or health issue, the player’s condition should be evaluated (including, as appropriate, an evaluation by a medical professional) and the player not returned to the game or sport program until medically released for play. Coaches and athletes should be trained in the signs and symptoms of health-related issues during conditioning, practice and play, including for heat illness, concussions and heart failure, among others, and take timely and appropriate responsive action to help mitigate the health impact.

Competitive sports – playing it safe programs and practices


Athletic programs should include sound risk control principles to help in injury prevention. Some program principles include, but are not limited to:

General risk management principles:

  • Hire qualified, certified coaches and athletic trainers
  • Establish and communicate a policy and procedure for reporting and addressing incidents of youth abuse and molestation. Educate all coaches, athletic trainers, athletes, other school officials and parents on your policy and procedure
  • Ensure all paperwork is signed and received before the start of the season, including: Annual consent and acknowledgment of risk of injury forms and waivers signed by athletes and/or parent, good sportsmanship/conduct forms signed by athletes, annual proof of individual, parental or institutional health insurance (covering sport injuries), an annual medical exam/evaluation and immunization record from a qualified medical professional, giving clearance to play a particular sport
  • Promote a drug-free environment

â—Ź Provide planned and supervised conditioning, practice, competition and travel
â—Ź Comply with applicable state laws and, for NCAA member institutions, all NCAA bylaws

Health, wellness and medical management:

  • Have medical resources/qualified medical professionals in place in the event of an emergency, including the capability of early defibrillation per your state law
  • Educate coaches and athletes on heat illness, sickle cell trait, heart disorders, staph infections (MRSA), sprain/strain and head injuries Put measures in place to mitigate the effects of extreme heat (rest breaks, fluids), and be prepared to respond to signs of heat illness. Provide conditioning and practice exercises within the capabilities of athletes for optimal readiness. Be aware of any medical restrictions for athletes regarding exercising and extreme heat. Teach athletes about the importance of good hygiene, especially regarding skin breaks, abrasions and skin infections, which could lead to staph infections/MRSA
  • Have a written catastrophic injury response plan
  • Have a written concussion management plan Consider the use of baseline testing for concussion management. Baseline testing provides a pre-injury capabilities score for memory, reaction times and cognitive processing and can help medical professionals make return-to-play decisions, post injury
  • Review OSHA’s blood-borne pathogens standard to determine its applicability to your program
  • Require a post-injury release form from a qualified medical professional before an injured athlete returns to play

Additional information for concussion mitigation and management

Concussions can be silent villains – the signs may not be readily detected. They can lead to brain damage, paralysis and, in some cases, death. To help coaches, athletes and parents identify and respond to concussions, a number of organizations offer information on concussion prevention and management, including the NCAA and the American Football Coaches Association. Additionally, the CDC, in partnership with leading organizations and experts, also provides Heads Up: Concussion in High School Sports. In addition to knowing the symptoms and what to do in the event of a concussion, “Heads Up” recommends a four-step Heads Up Action Plan before the season starts, as well as educating athletes and parents.

Facility and equipment:

  • Use safety standards when purchasing mandated personal protective equipment. Maintain and repair equipment at all times. Have a process for athletes to inform coaching staff when equipment becomes unsafe or illegal
  • Provide mandated protective equipment. Train athletes on and enforce use and proper fit
  • Routinely inspect your athletic area/facility, including the warm up area, and playing fields for maintenance, repair and good housekeeping
  • Be prepared for lightning. Education and prevention are key to avoiding risks associated with lightning strikes

An athletic program based on sound safety and health management principles can help schools and park and recreation departments play it safe!

The information provided in this document is provided by Travelers and is intended for use as a guideline and is not intended as, nor does it constitute, legal or professional advice. Travelers does not warrant that adherence to, or compliance with, any recommendations, best practices, checklists, or guidelines will result in a particular outcome. In no event will Travelers, or any of its subsidiaries or affiliates, be liable in tort or in contract to anyone who has access to or uses this information for any purpose. Travelers does not warrant that the information in this document constitutes a complete and finite list of each and every item or procedure related to the topics or issues referenced herein. Furthermore, federal, state, provincial, municipal or local laws, regulations, standards or codes, as is applicable, may change from time to time and the user should always refer to the most current requirements. This material does not amend, or otherwise affect, the provisions or coverages of any insurance policy or bond issued by Travelers, nor is it a representation that coverage does or does not exist for any particular claim or loss under any such policy or bond. Coverage depends on the facts and circumstances involved in the claim or loss, all applicable policy or bond provisions, and any applicable law.

Read More

Important reminder: As always, check with your national organization regarding any and all COVID-19 risk management advice before proceeding.

We have recently written up our position on the ability of employers to require their employees to take the vaccine. We are also beginning to get questions about whether the sororities/fraternities will be allowed to also require their members to be vaccinated.

In December, we took the opportunity to discuss this matter with three university administrators from a public institution and one administrator from a private university, along with extensive research on this developing subject, to get a feel as to what the university community was considering on this subject of requiring its students to be vaccinated before they can continue to be on campus.

What follows are some questions and responses that we posed:

By what authority do institutions of higher education (IHEs) currently hold the power to require the vaccinations that pre-COVID were already in place?

This authority comes from each state’s Department of Health: a public institution generally follows the guidance, whereas a private institution is able to require more vaccinations than what the Department of Health addresses. There also exists a statute that allows governmental entities such as a university to engage in “all acts necessary” to preserve the health and safety of its students and employees dating back to the early 1900s.

Currently do IHEs allow for exceptions to their vaccination policy and, if so, what are they?

Yes, each administrator responded that exceptions are allowed. They are 1) for health reasons in which an individual has reason to believe it could put their health at risk and 2) for religious beliefs that are inconsistent with taking vaccines. We did hear that very few of their students seek exceptions. According to Peter H. Meyers, an emeritus professor at the George Washington University law school and previously served as director of the law school’s Vaccine Injury Litigation Clinic, 95 to 99 percent of students will not fit into the narrow categories of exemptions that are allowed.

Do you anticipate offering additional exceptions for the COVID-10 vaccinations to your faculty and staff ?

One administrator acknowledged that they anticipate allowing the faculty and staff an exemption based on what is being referred to as “philosophical disagreements” against the vaccines, which will probably not be offered to students. Another university stated that they would just consider that type of exception as a medical reservation instead of a separate item.

What do you anticipate your university will be doing this spring on requiring students be vaccinated?

It is unlikely that they will mandate vaccinations especially since drug is only being offered under an “emergency use” category and the student population won’t have access to the vaccine for some time. They do sense that the university will encourage the vaccines but not require them down the road, short of any governmental direction to the contrary.

What impediments will there be to ultimately be to actually require the vaccination of all students/faculty and administration?

The current status of the vaccination application is termed “emergency use.” In ordinary circumstances, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will then move the drugs to what is termed “standard approval,” and the masses would then be eligible to take the vaccination. There is some pretty strong concern that because of the fact that the drugs haven’t gone through the normal three-year trial period that the FDA may not any time soon declare the drug for “standard approval,” which will certainly slow the acceptance of the vaccination.

How have the IHEs handled the flu vaccination previously?

What seemed to be the consensus is that many of both the private and public institutions did in fact require flu vaccinations last fall of both students and administration/faculty with very high acceptance rates. There is doubt however that this will play out the same way with the COVID-19 vaccine.

Students won’t necessarily be considered for vaccinations until late spring/early summer timeframe, so should we consider the vaccination matter at a later point in time?

Unless the student has underlying health issues, this is likely the case.  We have read that the American College Heath Association (ACHA) has requested that the CDC Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices (ACIP) consider recommending students be vaccinated prior to the end of spring semester 2021. This addresses the students returning home and/or moving elsewhere and exposing other communities at large.

There is no question that the sororities will need to once again be familiar with what each IHE is doing as they develop their guidance for each chapter. As noted above, we may see differences develop between private and public IHEs, along with local conditions regarding the spread of the virus. Any discussion is premature until the vaccine becomes more readily available to the age grouping of college students.

We have also had some fraternal related questions that we would also like to address:

If a university requires the COVID-19 vaccination and requires proof of the inoculation, can the sorority and potentially the house corporation rely on that or should we also secure a proof?

We believe that you can rely on the university managing this risk accordingly.

What if the university choses to not require the vaccination, but we determine that it is in the best interests of the health and safety of our members to do so?

As a private organization, you will be at liberty to make these determinations. Will it become a condition of membership for the member to consider? It will be recommended that you also explore what exceptions you can offer, not unlike those that employers are obligated to offer, such as: 1) health reasons as the vaccine may pose a threat to the individual and 2) religious reasons. There does also appear that one other possible exception is being considered which is based on philosophical disagreements, but not necessarily encouraging you to incorporate. We are already hearing reservations on social media, which do not appear to have any scientific standing.

As with all things COVID, things will develop and evolve on this subject and we can hope that the IHEs make the calls that will help our clients better manage this exposure. As there are new developments, we will provide you with updates accordingly. We are also working with Michelle Anderson of isher & Phillips on some possible “templates” that may be used on this subject so look for additional information.

Please don’t hesitate to contact your Client Executive with any further questions or concerns.

Read More

We fairly regularly receive questions from members and alumnae regarding the use of individual’s personal homes for chapter events. From a risk management standpoint, we have a few different opinions based on the type of event being held. However, regardless of the type of event being held (whether it be a philanthropic fundraising event, an alumnae chapter meeting, or a recruitment event), the important thing to remember is that the homeowner would be responsible for any bodily injury or property damage that might occur from the actions or inactions of an attendee at the function. The homeowner, by hosting the event in their home, takes responsibility for any injury or damage that occurs during the event. Presumably, their homeowner’s policy would serve as the appropriate way to handle the incident.

We highly recommend that the event organizers advise the homeowner of this information prior to the event, so the proper expectations have been set beforehand. Obviously, this might convince some volunteers to rescind the use of their home, but this alternative is far better than having them upset when we decline a claim that developed out of their event in their home.

If the homeowner would not wish to be exposed in this liability but still would like to hold the event in their home, we encourage them to draft a contract between the homeowner and the chapter, in which the organization agrees to add this homeowner on as an additional insured and, therefore, receive coverage under the national liability policy. This type of arrangement must be approved by the Fraternity/Sorority Headquarters.

If a function is planned at an individual’s home that rises to the level of a significant event with many attendees, such as a fundraiser, we would highly recommend that there be a specific contract in place between the group and the owner of the home listing the terms and responsibilities of each party to the contract, such as provisions that clarify which party is responsible for any bodily injury or property damage that comes from the event. If you are contemplating this type of event, please contact us as early in the planning process as possible, so that we can address the necessary insurance verbiage and requirements upfront. If we deem that the exposure is outside of the normal level of risk, the insurance company may require some additional premium.
The other potential exposure that must be properly addressed is the matter of catering and the serving of alcohol at these events. In these cases, both the organization and the homeowner would need to take the appropriate measures to ensure that both the caterer and who ever serves the alcohol has their own insurance coverage in place to cover their actions.

Should you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Read More

There are many points on which the legal profession and the insurance profession disagree; the definitions of personal injury and bodily injury are two. The insurance profession rightly assigns these terms two separate meanings while the legal profession lumps all injuries into one definition – “Personal Injury.”

Legal dictionaries define “personal injury” to mean an injury to a person’s body, mind or emotions. Included within this definition are injuries resulting from negligence or intentional acts. The term is often inappropriately used in contracts such as leases and subcontract agreements relating to insurance requirements, terms and conditions. Such use can cause confusion as the unknowing lawyer draws up the contract intending one type of coverage when the insurance professional reads this as a different breadth of coverage.

  • Personal injury does not equal bodily injury; lawyers not aware of such differences can create confusion and discourse.
  • Bodily Injury from an insurance standpoint means bodily harm, sickness or disease sustained by a person, including death resulting from any of these at any time. Mental anguish and loss of service is, at times, included as part of this definition.
  • Personal Injury (coupled with “Advertising Injury” in the commercial general liability policy) usually describes intentional torts such as libel, slander, defamation of character, false arrest, wrongful entry into, wrongful eviction from, malicious prosecution and other such actions.
Read More

Liquor Liability: What is it and what does it matter?

Liquor Liability Coverage is designed to protect a seller/provider of alcohol, such as a restaurant or a bar, from the financial consequences of their legal liability when a patron or a third-party is injured as a result of the negligent serving of the alcohol or negligence in not preventing an individual from injuring a third-party.

The legal liability comes from each state enacting legislation, which defends the extent to which a provider is liable in that state. The definition of legal liability varies by state because each state applies its own codified and judicially interpreted laws to the businesses in that state.

These laws have evolved over the years since their inception in the mid-nineteenth century in the United States. Originally there were no laws that would impose any responsibility upon sellers/providers of alcohol for the consequences of the consumption of beverages under the theory that the person consuming the alcohol bore the primary responsibility.

Over time there were many influences to the emergence of liquor liability legislation, which attempts to place some liability upon the business serving the alcohol. In recent times, public concern over problems associated with drunk driving became a major factor in increasing the liability of alcohol providers and social hosts for the dispensing of alcoholic beverages, the most notable influence being Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).

These laws are often times referred to as “dram shop” laws. The term “dram” dates back to eighteenth century England where businesses sold gin by the spoonful called a dram.

The legal liability or tort laws passed in each state do vary; however, there are two basic tenets:

  • Give persons a civil right of action against providers of alcoholic beverages when they are injured or their property damaged through the actions of an intoxicated adult and/or a minor.
  • Existence of a law generally imposes higher liability against a provider of alcoholic beverages.

Each state’s legal liability laws are unique, and the elements of each provide the extent to the degree of liability placed on the establishment serving the alcohol.

  • In some states, every establishment in which the intoxicated person drank can be pulled into the lawsuit; the establishment then has to prove that the person was not or did not appear intoxicated while there. Each establishment in these states can be held liable.
  • At least one state holds the establishment liable if the patron appears intoxicated even if they came into the establishment that way and did not drink while they were there.
  • Other states require proof that the establishment sold alcohol to the intoxicated individual, injuries were sustained and the intoxication was the proximate cause of the injury (ies).

There are a few states that have not established legal or tort law defining the provider’s liability should an injury or property damage occur by one of its patrons consuming alcohol. Therefore, many courts have modified the rule of non-liability (no tort law) based on new “standards of care” imposed by modern negligence principles or regulatory statutes. The states will either recognize tort law, common law principle or both in the course of legal liability of a provider of alcohol.

Regardless of what state a provider is operating in, there will be some type of liability imposed by the courts for the serving of alcohol. This responsibility is ultimately insured under what is referred to as a Liquor Liability Policy, which is separate from their General Liability or Business Liability Policy. The premium charges that the insurance company makes for the exposure of serving alcohol is state-specific and takes into consideration that particular state’s laws on liability for providers of alcoholic beverages.

Good risk management should be used in determining the providers that you wish to use for your functions. As such, you should only engage an establishment that has comprehensive and adequate liability insurance, including liquor liability when the function includes the serving of alcoholic beverages.

We have run into a procedure that some of our clients have implemented that we believe has unintentionally created some confusion, which we would like to draw to your attention. The procedure is that when a chapter rents a venue for a function and the venue is serving alcohol, the chapter is required to check for the liquor license and occasionally are being asked to secure a copy of the liquor license.

The confusion arises with the risk management recommendation that the venue have both General Liability coverage as well as Liquor Liability coverage. What happens has been that once this chapter secures a copy of the liquor license, they think they have also satisfied the requirement of the Liquor Liability coverage.

Not only does it cause confusion, but we believe that the requirement of getting a copy of this liquor license is unnecessary for two reasons:

  1. Liquor distribution and the serving of alcohol are highly regulated. We are of the opinion that the governmental agency responsible for monitoring the licensing and the distribution business provides sufficient confidence to a patron that the proper licensing has taken place.
  2. Insurance companies providing Liquor Liability coverage require evidence of a valid liquor license so by requiring Liquor Liability insurance, you have effectively also validated that the venue has a valid license.
    There is no debate on the fact that the venue having the Liquor Liability coverage is critical. The entity serving the alcohol should be primarily liable for the claims that arise out of this service. The insurance coverage under your national insurance policy would apply regardless of whether the venue has the necessary license or not.

Should you have any additional questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Read More

Use CTRL+F to search for a specific term on this webpage.

Aggregate Limit: A limit in an insurance policy stipulating the most it will pay for all covered losses sustained during a specified period of time, usually one year. Aggregate limits are commonly included in liability policies and apply per chapter location.

Bodily Injury: Injury to the body, sickness or disease sustained by a person, including death resulting from any of these at any time.

Certificate of Liability Insurance: This is a certificate issued by the insurance company detailing the particulars of the insurance coverage in place for all chapters and regions under the general liability policy. This certificate may be used to document the existence of coverages for chapters and regions. This document is not sufficient when a third-party requests a certificate where they are named as an additional insured.

Certificate of Liability Insurance for an Additional Insured: This is a certificate issued by the insurance company detailing the particulars of the insurance coverage in place for all chapters and regions under the general liability policy. This document specifically identifies a third party as being expressly covered under the general liability policy for a specified period of time (i.e. an additional insured). This form of insurance certificate is often requested by facilities where chapters or regions are planning to hold events.

Claim: An incident where the injured party is making a demand for compensation under the terms of an insurance contract.

Director’s & Officer’s Liability Insurance: Offers directors and officers protection from personal liability and financial loss arising out of wrongful acts committed or allegedly committed in their capacity as officers and/or directors.

Exposure: The measure of your vulnerability to loss.

General Liability insurance: Coverage that pertains, for the most part, to claims arising out of the insured’s liability for injuries or damage caused by ownership of or responsibility for property, sale or distribution of products, and liability for the insured’s operations.

Incident: An occurrence involving bodily injury to a member or guest that does not result in a formal claim. All incidents must be reported when discovered due to possibility of them becoming a claim.

Intentional Act: Deliberately fraudulent acts or omissions, wanton, willful, reckless or intentional disregard of any law or laws. An accident, including continuous or repeated exposure to substantially the same general, harmful conditions.

Property Damage: Physical injury to tangible property, including all resulting loss of use of that property. All such loss of use shall be deemed to occur at the time of the physical injury that caused it; or Loss of use of tangible property that is not physically injured. All such loss of use shall be deemed to occur at the time of the “occurrence” that caused it.

Underwriting: The process of selecting risks for insurance and classifying them according to their degree of insurability, so that the appropriate rates and premiums may be assigned. The process also includes rejection of those risks that do not qualify.

Have we missed a term that you would like to see explained? Contact Sara Sterley with your suggestion. Thank you!

Read More

Contracts are complicated

In the “good old days,” making arrangements for functions of the organization were far simpler; over time, it has become more complex. In addition, many third-parties are now requiring that a contract be signed before a venue or a service can be utilized, and we typically find that every contract is different.

The essence of any contract is the agreement that for certain compensation, certain services will be provided. For example, a facility is being rented (the service) and your organization is expected to pay a specific fee as set forth in the contract (the compensation).

If you have reviewed these contracts, you will agree that it is not simply setting these terms, but addressing the numerous other conditions also being required. It is in this review of the contract that you need to be aware of some of the common issues, as you consider obligating your organization under the contract.

One of the more subtle, but far reaching issues of the contract is the transfer of liability from one party to another. This can be done explicitly in the contract with wording, such as, “while in your use, you are responsible for any property damage to the rented facility” or the less explicit requirements referred to as indemnification (being put back whole) or hold harmless clauses. Ideally the contract would make a specific mention of this point under a titled section, but that is not always the case. Therefore, it is critical that the entire contract is thoroughly read to detect for any and all contractual obligations which you are being asked to comply.

We are seeing a dramatic increase in the number of event contracts. Be concerned with any of the following verbiage in your contracts:

  • Hold harmless
  • Indemnification
  • Additional insured
  • Primary and non-contributory

Some examples

Here are some examples of the more common transfers of liability, though it bears mentioning that you cannot transfer all liability, but can certainly minimize your liability to claims:

  1. The hotel contract requires your organization to hold them harmless for any bodily injury of your attendees while on their property.
    • If you agree to this term and there is a bodily injury incident, then you have forfeited the opportunity to sue the venue for an unsafe physical condition in the property because you are holding them harmless.
    • Logically, the entity that has the greater “control” of the conditions of the physical property should be the one bearing the greatest liability, so holding them harmless is not preferable.
    • Your agreement may be for exposures that are not covered by your insurance policy, though a remote possibility, it could occur.
  1. The sorority chapter is hosting an event at the local park where you have contracted with a caterer to provide the food and alcohol for the event. The caterer is requiring evidence of your insurance coverage and wants to be added to your insurance policy as an Additional Insured.
    • The most alarming trend is the request for a non-insured to be added to your policy and given the full rights under the policy. In doing so, you forfeit the opportunity to sue this “Additional Insured” for their actions, which may have well been the only reason why a claim occurred. The classic example here would be the caterer not practicing good risk management and over-serving someone who becomes intoxicated and then assaults another attendee at the function. Your insurance policy would be obligated to defend this caterer and potentially pay for any judgment against them. We prefer to have each party to a contract rely on their own insurance coverage and then rely on the “courts” to determine where negligence lies and ultimately where the liability rests for paying for injury or damages.

If renting a facility, points to consider:

Do a walk-through of the facility and make reference in the contract of any visible property defect or damage that was present before your function was held. This eliminates the possibility of the venue alleging that you damaged their property while holding the event in their facility.

Review the contract carefully and look for indications of transferring the risk with the following verbiage:

  • Additional Insured
  • Hold Harmless
  • Indemnification

If you are unsure whether or not unfavorable language is in the contract, complete this form to have your contract reviewed.  After consulting with an attorney specializing in contract review, MJ has taken a little different approach when it comes to reviewing contracts containing indemnification and hold harmless clauses.  Over the years, we have found that most contracts contain these clauses and more times than not, we were unsuccessful in having the clauses removed.  Amending or rewriting a contract is more of a legal issue rather than an insurance issue; therefore, MJ is not in a position to provide legal advice on these clauses.  We will still be reviewing contracts for insurance requirements, i.e. Additional Insured and Primary Additional Insured; however, when the only items embedded are hold harmless and indemnification clauses we are advising that the contract meets the insurance review.  This is not saying that you shouldn’t be mindful of these conditions and take greater precaution than you normally would with your event because of these contractual requirements.

Additional Insureds are specifically designated parties that have the same benefits afforded by the insurance coverage that you have as a named insured. This means that you will have to share your policy limits with any Additional Insured to your location. There is no premium charge for this substantial coverage that they receive.

Additional Insureds increase the number of potential claims that could be made against your insurance policy. As they are covered by your policy once you sign a contract obligating your organization to list them as an Additional Insured, you lose the opportunity to sue them if they were negligent in their responsibilities under the signed agreement. Potentially, your policy would have to pay for a claim and the defense costs of a claim in which the Additional Insured was grossly negligent and in which you had little to no responsibility.

If renting a facility and alcohol is being served by either the facility or an outside caterer, here are some points to consider (in addition to the other facility example above):

  • Look for the publicly displayed liquor license for the venue or ask to see a copy of the license for the vendor serving the alcohol to ensure that it is in
    force.
  • Secure a Certificate of Insurance which includes the minimum limits on the next page plus the coverage for Liquor Liability, which is in addition to their
    General Liability coverage.

If hiring a contractor or contracting with a venue/service, points to consider:

Secure the services of only an insured contractor or company and ensure that they have the following recommended minimum limits of liability insurance by getting a copy of their Certificate of Insurance (where applicable):

  • General Liability $1,000,000 per occurrence
  • Liquor Liability $1,000,000 per occurrence
  • Automobile Liability $1,000,000 per occurrence
  • Workers’ Compensation $500,000 per accident

The main reason why we recommend that your contractors have their own insurance is so your organizations coverage would not have to respond to a claim that was caused solely by your contractor. The reason why we recommend the above minimum limits is that these are industry standards and should we need to file a claim against the subcontractor for damage or bodily injury they caused, we would want sufficient limits to access or what we refer to as subrogation against a third party.

Read More