Combined liability and employers liability insurance for clubs
One of the primary benefits of Mountaineering Scotland club membership is our specialist insurance policy for clubs.
As members of 'unincorporated associations', club officials and members are potentially personally liable for damages awarded against the club. Specialist comprehensive third party liability insurance is therefore an essential requirement.
The Mountaineering Scotland policy is designed to protect your club, its officers and members for claims awarded and arising from issues related to club governance and a broad range of mountaineering and social activities.
We require clubs and Meetups to register all their active members in order to benefit from our club membership and insurance. Prospective members or 'guests' are covered by the club's insurance for up to two meets. New members must be registered and paid for within a month of their joining the club.
If you represent a club which is already affiliated to Mountaineering Scotland and have general enquiries about the insurance scheme and the cover provided, please check the details on the insurance centre website at www.mountaineering-scot-insurance.co.uk or direct your queries to our insurance brokers, Howden via email@example.com or 0121 698 8156.
If you represent a club which is considering affiliation and have questions about the cover provided under our combined liability, huts or employee liability schemes, please contact the CEO at Mountaineering Scotland in the first instance at firstname.lastname@example.org or 01738 493942.
Liability actually attaches to the individual members of clubs, not to the club itself, unless the club is incorporated. Most mountaineering and hill walking clubs are unincorporated associations and therefore they have no legal personality of their own, unlike companies limited by shares or guarantee (or partnerships in Scotland).
So as far as clubs are concerned, all members of a club are equally liable at law in the event of any claim arising from, or in connection with, its activities. In practice, a claimant may address a claim to a limited number of individuals.
In the case of a claim involving an accident at a hut, the claim would normally be addressed to the hut warden, officers, committee members and trustees. Any individual singled out to defend a claim would be entitled to an indemnity from the membership on whose behalf they were acting in respect of the claim itself and associated costs - to the full extent of any uninsured losses.
Under the terms of the policy, if you are a member of a club which has registered you with Mountaineering Scotland, you are covered for your mountaineering activities when you are not participating in club activities. Please bear in mind:
Members of clubs only enjoy cover by our liability insurance if they are registered with us.
Mountaineering Scotland maintains a database of registered members; in the event of a claim, the database and/or the most recent registration made by the clubs shall be used to establish whether a member of a club involved in a claim is registered and eligible for cover. Members joining a club must be registered with Mountaineering Scotland within one month of joining.
For insurance purposes, a member of a club who no longer participates in club events, including social activities, need not be declared in the registration submission by that club, although such members may wish to continue to support the work of Mountaineering Scotland by paying the subscription fee.
Cover for a club is included in respect of its liability to guests who attend social functions or who accompany members on activities such as an occasional family walk organised by the club. However, cover is not provided for a guest’s personal liability.
If a non-member participates in a club event, s/he is not personally covered by the insurance. If that person causes a claim to be made, s/he can be sued on a personal basis, or the club can also be held responsible and may be brought into legal action. Our insurance will cover the club, its officials, and its members and the event only.
It is worth noting that as the non-member is not covered in his/her own right, should they be the subject of a claim by a member of the club (who is insured), the member who brings the claim may be unable to receive any damages awarded, due to the lack of insurance held by the non-member, if they are unable to pay the damages.
There will be occasions when non-members will wish to attend a meet as a guest before they decide whether they wish to join the club. In this context we have agreed with our insurers that a guest may participate up to twice before s/he should be registered with Mountaineering Scotland for insurance purposes.
There is automatic cover for the club when individuals participate in club events on a guest or trial basis. The club is indemnified for liability and the individual guest has insurance in his/her own right in respect of these two “taster” sessions. If a guest continues to participate with the club on a regular basis, however, they should be registered as a full member and the relevant subscription paid to Mountaineering Scotland.
Assuming that the club constitution allows their membership, children (defined as anyone under 18 years old) may join a club and participate in its activities and the club will be indemnified against liability. Although children legally cannot be held responsible for their actions, the insurance charge is still applicable because when liabilities are incurred by a child in respect of third party personal injury or property damage, the duty of care will ultimately lie with the club.
Insurance cover is provided for a club if a claim is made for civil damages following an allegation of abuse against a child. No cover for abuse is provided for individuals accused of abuse because such cases are brought under criminal rather than civil law.
Mountaineering Scotland has worked with other mountaineering organisations and Perkins Slade to develop Safety & Liability Guidance for clubs.
The intention of the guidance is not to constrain club activities but to allow clubs to manage their affairs in such a way as to help minimise any possible liability in the unfortunate event of a member having an accident. It is important that all members of clubs are fully aware of the guidance. The guidance also provides useful information to members who visit the hills in informal groups.
Updated January 2016