In light of the concern about what is known as "the
insurance crisis," GSA wants everyone involved in field trips to understand
the implications of GSA's insurance coverage. This information attempts
to do this without getting bogged down in insurance jargon. If you have
questions after reading this, please contact Mary Kerns, Senior Accountant, at (303) 357-1065 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Liability coverage protects GSA and its agents (employees
and volunteers) in the case of injury or damage to a third party. GSA's coverage
is for liability only. Settlement in favor
of someone sustaining personal injury or property damage will occur only if
GSA can be found negligent-something that may have to be decided by the insurance
companies and the courts. GSA's insurance does not automatically pay medical
bills or vehicle repairs.
When we refer to "coverage," we refer to GSA´s
standing with the insurer. The insurance company will consider only those claims
arising from the circumstances specified in the policy. If we say a vehicle
or person is "covered," we mean the insurer will consider the claim. Payment
will be determined only if GSA is found to be negligent.
The critical point to remember is . . .
First line payments for bodily injury or property damage must be covered by some other
type of insurance beyond GSA's liability coverage.
|Liability Coverage Limits
GSA's current limits are:
||U.S. and territories
||None, but if the suit is brought in the U.S., coverage applies.
Those persons covered by GSA's liability insurance
include GSA's employees and agents. Field trip chair people and
field trip leaders are GSA agents when acting in their official
capacity for a meeting activity. Drivers are GSA agents when they
are either employees (permanent or temporary) or volunteers. These
persons are protected from suit by someone on the trip.
"Coverage" does not mean payment for injury or property
damage sustained by a field trip leader or chairperson.
Registrants are "covered" in the sense that
their claims will have standing with the insurer if there is a question of GSA's
liability. An incident must occur in circumstances in which GSA was said to have
"possession and control." A registrant's claim will not have standing with the
insurer unless this requirement is fulfilled.
Insurance applies to territorial United States and its possessions. Incidents that occur on field
trips in foreign countries, including Mexico and Canada, will be covered only
if the suit is brought in the United States. Check with GSA if you have a foreign
We often are questioned about coverage at quarries,
mines, and other sites. GSA is not deemed to be in "possession
and control" of the site, and therefore does not have standing
with GSA's insurer. Of course, individual circumstances might alter
this general ruling.
Individuals are assumed to carry the monetary as well as physical risk. In the instance where the mining company is negligent, the company's insurance should apply.
Liability insurance covers hired, non-owned vehicles (including boats), but absolutely does not cover:
- hired or non-owned aircraft
- hired or non-owned boats more than 25 feet in length
- activities in or under the water
If a car "trails" the official
GSA field trip vehicle, GSA's liability coverage does not extend to this person,
the vehicle, nor the passengers.
GSA REQUIRES THAT ALL DRIVERS OF "TRAILER"
VEHICLES SHOW PROOF OF INSURANCE TO THE FIELD TRIP LEADER OR FIELD
TRIP CHAIRPERSON, AND GSA MEETING COORDINATOR.
NOTE: THERE IS NO PHYSICAL DAMAGE FOR ANY AUTOS. (THEREFORE,
BUY THE EXTRA INSURANCE FROM THE RENTAL CAR COMPANY.)
The basic rule is that "coverage follows the vehicle." The critical factor
is the level at which GSA has possession and control of a vehicle and its driver,
so it must first be determined if the vehicle is, in effect, GSA's.
|1. Greyhound bus and driver. Coverage is from the carriers insurer.
||None for vehicle or driver.
|2. Rental van or van on loan from a geological survey or university with
a GSA driver.
||None for vehicle, but incidents caused by the driver are covered. Additional
insurance should be obtained for the vehicle by the Field Trip Leader from
the rental car company.
|3. Private car that GSA borrows or pays for, and a driver who is in some
way compensated by GSA.
||Some exposure for the incident caused by the vehicle. The driver is covered.
|4. Private car driven by the owner that "trails" a field trip.
||None for vehicle or driver. Coverage is from the owner's insurer.
Providing for Additional Insurance
The conclusion is that . . .
- Field trip registrants must be advised to provide
their own medical insurance. We expect all registrants to carry
medical coverage on themselves. (They should be made aware of
this by the Field Trip Chairperson or Field trip leaders.)
- However, GSA
cannot be found "imprudent" in this area. Therefore...
IT IS RECOMMENDED THAT, IF LOSS OF LIFE OR BODILY
INJURY INSURANCE IS AVAILABLE, AS WITH AUTO RENTAL COMPANIES, YOU PURCHASE IT
AND BUDGET IT AS A FIELD TRIP EXPENSE.
- Carriers must have proof of their own insurance. If they don't, we cannot use their vehicles. According
to state law, each vehicle must be insured for leasors and rentors regardless
of who causes the accident.
PROCURING A RECORD OF INSUREDNESS ON EACH VEHICLE
IS PART OF THE FIELD TRIP CHAIRMAN'S ADMINISTRATIVE RESPONSIBILITIES.
Rental companies (Avis, Thrifty, etc.) usually ask for a Physical Damage Waiver payment. Although
it is their way of getting customers to cover the insurance premiums, you must
plan to pay the waiver fee. Include it in your budget.
|General Release and Save Harmless Waivers
- Waivers are only one step in the entire process
of protecting the Society and its agents. They are by no means
the only step. Courts hold that persons may not waive their legal
rights. If GSA or its agent is found imprudent or negligent, a
waiver will not come between the Society and appropriate redress
for the individual. In general, the final word on the value of
waivers is determined by the courts.
- Even so, we take the position that something
is better than nothing. A waiver is at least a written indication
that the registrant was made aware of some risk; therefore, all
registrants for section meeting field trips are asked to sign
a waiver releasing GSA and its agents from liability. We suggest
that the General Chairperson set up a procedure for securing the
waivers. These will be called on in case an injury occurs. Please
click here to view a sample Waiver form.
- Occasionally, GSA headquarters is asked to
sign a hold harmless waiver in order that field trips have access
to private land. Of course, we are reluctant to do so. One option
is to name the property owner as co-insured on GSA's policy. This
is addressed on a case-by-case basis. Please contact Mary Kerns,
Senior Accountant, at (303) 357-1065 or email@example.com,
when faced with this situation.