Charity Insurance | Social Enterprises | Voluntary Organisations | Community Groups

Is it “Fair” to claim against a charity?

By: Sally Adams-Armitage

Let’s consider the following two scenarios…

  1. A team of commercial cleaners clean your local shopping centre, one was late into work due to traffic and as such rushed to clean their area – the floor was still wet when the shopping centre opened and an 89 year old slips, falls and suffers a broken hip.
  1. A local community centre puts on a free event for the community.  A volunteer brings a tray of drinks to some children enjoying the event, one cup falls and leaves a wet area to the floor, the volunteer forgets to clean this up, an 89 year old slips, falls and suffers a broken hip.

What’s the difference? Well, nothing.

But no-one is going to claim against a charity, are they? In short Yes!

For any claim to be valid their must be proven negligence but if negligence is proven then you have a valid claim.

Many organisations do not feel that there is any risk of anything happening and feel sure that people using their services would not claim against them if something did happen. It is important to remember that even incidents/injuries which are believed to be minor can incur large costs, minor burns can lead to thousands of pounds settlements for example.

Even if the negligent person/organisation does not have any insurance, a claim can still be made against them, so running uninsured is a very high risk as the costs would still need to be paid somehow and if this mean using funds saved for operating costs, it could be that the group have to close.

Organisations also often believe that by using a disclaimer, their liability is avoided simply because service users are told that they are using services “at their own risk”. Disclaimers as a general rule do not stand up. If you are negligent then you cannot pass on the liability elsewhere. This highlights the need to have good record keeping, documentation, risk management (including using risk assessments) in order to give the best chance of defending a claim against the organisation.

Some may argue that there is a weaker moral stance of bringing a claim against a not for profit organisation but the fact remains that if someone is injured as a result of another person/organisations negligence they are entitled to claim compensation/costs regardless of whether the organisation is a company or not for profit/voluntary organisation.

It is therefore important that you identify the risks to your organisation and ensure that insurance is arranged to cover these risks, no matter how small they may seem to be, should a claim arise.

Offering an independent advised broker service we can help identify and cover risks faced by your Charity/Not for Profit group and of course, I would also be happy to discuss your individual voluntary group insurance requirements.