I’d like to volunteer for a nonprofit organization. Am I protected from liability?Yes. The Volunteer Protection Act provides liability protection for harm a volunteer may cause as long as:
- the volunteer was acting within the scope of his or her volunteer responsibilities;
- the volunteer was properly licensed, certified or authorized for the activity which caused the harm (if required or appropriate);
- the harm was not caused by the willful or criminal misconduct, gross negligence or conscious, flagrant indifference to the rights or safety of the person harmed; and
- the harm was not caused by the volunteer while operating a motor vehicle, vessel, aircraft or other vehicle for which the state mandates the operator or owner to be licensed or to maintain insurance.
Are there exceptions to volunteer immunity I should know?The Volunteer Protection Act will not provide immunity if the volunteer has engaged in misconduct that:
- constitutes a crime of violence or an act of international terrorism;
- constitutes a hate crime;
- involves a sexual offense;
- violates a federal or state civil rights law; or
- if the volunteer was under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time.
Do I qualify as a volunteer under the act?A “volunteer” is defined under the act as an individual performing services for a nonprofit organization or a governmental entity who does not receive compensation (other than reasonable reimbursement or allowance for incurred expenses) or any other thing of value in lieu of compensation, in excess of $500 per year. The term includes a director, officer, trustee or other direct service volunteer.
I volunteer as a director of a nonprofit organization. Can I expect my homeowners insurance policy or umbrella policy to extend coverage for harm I may cause as a volunteer?No. A homeowners policy shows little promise of providing a director or officer any protection in the event that a lawsuit arises.
The reason? The typical directors and officers lawsuit involves a wrongful act that inflicts financial injury to someone, whereas a homeowners policy covers an insured whose negligence causes an accident that produces bodily injury or property damage to a plaintiff. The homeowners policy, if so endorsed, also may provide coverage for personal injury offenses, such as libel or slander.
The Volunteer Protection Act of 1997 is a big step in the right direction to providing volunteers with immunity; however, because there are still some limitations and qualifications on immunity, check with our agency to be sure you have the appropriate insurance coverage.
Are you a volunteer and want to see if you are covered or do you run a non-profit and want to make sure your volunteers are protected? Contact Us Today! You can call or email us at 888-565-2212 or firstname.lastname@example.org Ask us for our free report that you need to have as volunteer - "Top 5 Questions You Need To Ask Your Volunteer Organization Before Lending a Hand"