In my role as an insurance broker dealing extensively with Village Hall committees, I am often asked questions beginning “Would my policy protect me if…” The questions usually revolve around a dreadful injury being suffered by someone using the Hall or its grounds.
The answer, of course, depends upon the circumstances.
Village Hall insurance policies will generally cover various types of liability – Public Liability, Products Liability, Employers’ Liability, Property Owner’s Liability and often Trustees Indemnity.
Public Liability cover protects the committee if they are sued when someone is injured or their property is damaged as a result of negligence on the part of the committee or its representatives. So if a visitor were to slip and break a leg due to a highly polished floor – and the committee had not put up signs to warn people of the danger – the policy would pay compensation to the injured person along with any court costs that may have been incurred.
Products Liability cover applies to injury or damage sustained as a result of a defect in a product supplied by the committee – such as food poisoning from refreshments provided by the committee for a private function.
The definition of an employee in the policy will usually include committee members and volunteers – as well as any employees. Hence the need for Employers’ Liability insurance – it is necessary regardless of whether the committee pays a wage to anyone. If an employee (as defined) were to be injured as a result of the negligence of the committee, compensation and legal costs would be paid under the Employers’ Liability cover. As an example, a committee member could make a claim under this section if he or she were to injure themselves falling off a faulty ladder or if they were electrocuted using an item that had not been PAT tested.
Where the committee owns the buildings – or is responsible for insuring them – the Hall insurance policy will include Property Owner’s Liability. This covers them against a claim for injury or damage arising from this ownership. For example, a tile could fall off the roof and damage a car or injure a passer-by.
Trustees Indemnity insurance is not always included in Hall insurance policies and many committees elect not to take it. It would protect the trustees and officials if one of them were to be sued in a personal capacity for any actual or alleged error in carrying out their duties which resulted in financial loss to another party. This would normally involve a breach of trust or a breach of duty.
The crucial point in each of these scenarios is that the committee must be considered negligent for the policy to pay damages. However, if the committee were to be taken to court and found not to be negligent, the policy would pay the legal fees.