General Liability Questions
We are in agreement with the FIPG guidelines regarding BYOB guidelines, which states:
“The possession, sale, use or consumption of ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES, while on chapter premises or during a fraternity event, in any situation sponsored or endorsed by the chapter, or at any event an observer would associate with the fraternity, should be in compliance with any and all applicable laws of the state, province, county, city and institution of higher education, and should comply with either the BYOB or Third Party Vendor Guidelines. BYOB is defined as one (1) six-pack of 12-ounce beers or one (1) four pack of wine coolers brought by a member or guest who is legally able to consume an alcoholic beverage.”
Review the rest of the FIPG Guidelines on their website.
The policy defines an insured as the Fraternity/Sorority, Foundation, House Corporations, Chapters, Colonies and Alumnae Associations. In addition, any member, volunteer or employee is also an insured, while they are acting on behalf of the organization. Your organization has purchased a comprehensive policy to protect you should you be named in a lawsuit while acting on their behalf.
House Boys living in the chapter house is a rarely seen exposure in women’s fraternities/sororities. Each situation is unique and should be very carefully analyzed. The exposures as we see them are enumerated below and should be considered by your House Corporation. Our position is that as long as the House Corporation is addressing the following risk management considerations, we can support this practice:
- Male visitation restrictions are common in every facility
- Access to common areas must be limited and probably have only limited times during the day where it is possible
- Access to the sleeping rooms should be restricted at all times
- Security of the resident/members is of utmost concern
- The compensation of room and board becomes both a taxable and worker’s compensation exposure for the employer
- The House Corporation can ultimately have the confidence in the “men” abiding by the rules;however, any allowance for the men to have male or female guests creates a more complex situation. It would be our recommendation that guests not be allowed.
Please contact us directly, so that we can help you to ensure that you are properly prepared and protected.
It depends! If the food allergies are minor and something that you feel your cook/caterer can easily accommodate, then we recommend that you carefully lay out the expectations with both the members in question and the cook/caterer. If the food allergies are too severe in nature or very difficult to accommodate, we recommend that you release the member(s) in question from the meal plan. If the allergy is so severe that it calls for total elimination of the ingredient from the premises, then we recommend that you consider releasing the individual from their housing contract.
In order to avoid repeated dietary requests, we recommend that the House Corporation require a doctor’s note before agreeing to any special arrangements. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact us
We have developed a resource that will help you identify the common pitfalls that you should be aware of in dealing with contracts. The document, along with several additional resources related to planning events and contract review, can also be found in our website Library for future reference.
Any type of incident should be reported immediately to MJ Insurance . Officers and
members will be interviewed by the insurance company to uncover the details of the incident. More than likely several people are going to be named in the lawsuit. The insurance policy will provide defense costs and pay any judgment against you as an insured as long as you are acting on behalf of the Sorority/Fraternity and following the rules and guidelines that are in place.
The General Liability policy covers premises, as well as operations liability. Premises liability means that coverage exists for claims arising on owned or rented property. Operations liability means that coverage exists for any typical event that is held off premises, such as philanthropic activities, dances, and social events. The organization’s policies are very comprehensive and protect that organization and its members. Virtually all sponsored events are covered; however, intentional acts (defined as deliberate intent to harm or break the law) that produce a loss are not covered.
Remember: as long as you are following the policies and/or guidelines of your organization and are acting on behalf of your organization, your interests will be protected by the insurance policy.
If I am injured during a sponsored event or at the chapter house, will the organization’s insurance policy pay for my injuries?
When a member or volunteer is injured during a sponsored event or at the chapter house, they need to rely on their own medical insurance to pay for their injuries, unless the organization is grossly negligent in causing their injuries. The General Liability policy exists to defend the organization’s members and volunteers should they be named in a lawsuit. It is not a substitute for a personal medical insurance policy.
Under the insurance program, the fraternity/sorority is covered under host liquor liability coverage, which is similar to the type of coverage under a homeowner’s policy. This coverage protects an insured should they be named in a civil lawsuit in which someone was injured due to the consumption of alcohol. This coverage will respond as long as the courts interpret that the insured is not in the business of serving, selling, manufacturing, furnishing or distributing alcoholic beverages.
Remember: It is extremely important that all members of the fraternity/sorority follow the organization’s alcohol policy.
We discourage the practice of scavenger hunts because of the inherent risks from both an automobile and general liability standpoint.
Some of the inherent risks include the following
For the automobile exposure:
- event requires speed to compete in the competitive event
- drivers may be traveling on unfamiliar roads/streets
- driver can be distracted by passengers excited with the “race” or hunt
- tendency for alcohol to be involved in the event
For the liability exposure:
- event requires participants to travel where they may not be familiar
- potential exists of hazing influence
- tendency for alcohol to be involved in the event
- many times the event has a fraternity as a co-sponsor and there is less confidence in the other organizations’ insurance coverage and risk management procedures
- liability waivers of responsibility that the participants may sign are less likely to hold up under challenge
In addition, many of our clients have policies that forbid scavenger hunts, so, as always, be sure to check with your specific organization before engaging in questionable chapter activities.
We are renting a venue that will be serving alcohol. Is evidence of their state liquor license sufficient?
Each state has very strict guidelines for businesses who are licensed to sell alcohol, and we certainly recommend that you only use businesses that have a current liquor license. However, it is equally if not more important, that you require evidence of the business’ liquor liability insurance coverage, which is separate coverage from general liability insurance and will have a separate limit of liability. For much more information on this issue, please refer to our position paper.
Our concern with off-duty police officers is that it is unlikely that they carry their own General Liability and Workers’ Compensation coverage, so if something were to happen to them, the organization could be liable as the employer. We do not want to be in a position where an armed off duty police officer would be considered an employee of the organization, so a more practical solution would be to contract with a security company. In our opinion, security guards contracted by the organization should not be armed.
Contact Ruth Akers, who handles the Certificate of Insurance requests in our office, or request a Certificate directly via this form at www.mjsorority.com. For more information on Certificates of Insurance, check out these resources that we’ve developed on our website: Certificate section of the Insurance Summary, Reviewing Contracts document, Certificate section of the website.
Many chapter members have contacted us to find out if it is acceptable for them to provide babysitting services as a fundraiser or to just allow chapter members to baby-sit at the chapter facility. This exposure is not acceptable and coverage is excluded from the insurance program. The chapter should not participate in or sponsor any activities related to childcare either at the chapter house or elsewhere.
The insurance company does not contemplate the difficult exposures involved with childcare in your General Liability rates. We do not support this activity because this exposure is not expected by the underwriting. In addition the potential for physical and sexual abuse exists, chapter members are not necessarily trained appropriately, and the chapter houses are not furnished with “little ones” in mind.
Yes! Obviously, exercise equipment in the chapter house poses an increase in exposure to bodily injury claims for the House Corporation. If you do have exercise equipment, we recommend that you address its use in your housing agreements with each tenant member. In addition, we strongly encourage the House Corporation to have some kind of maintenance schedule in place to ensure that the exercise equipment is properly maintained and meets minimum safety standards.