Ensure that appropriate insurance cover is provided to protect volunteer staff & volunteer board members

The Centre for Volunteering recommends that organisations involving volunteers seek professional advice in determining what cover is available and most appropriate for their needs. It is also important to review your policies regularly and inform your insurance broker of any new or unusual activities your organisation or your volunteers are participating in to ensure adequate insurance coverage.

Examples include volunteers working:

  • In a different location
  • In a new role
  • With different equipment
  • With a different client group
  • In a new program area
  • From home
  • In large numbers – such as at a big event.

If your insurance policy has age limitations, you should also contact your insurance broker if you wish to engage volunteers under the minimum stated age, or if volunteers reach your maximum age and you wish them to continue volunteering with your organisation.

In the event of an insurable incident, you should also inform your insurance provider as soon as possible.

Types of insurance to consider

Volunteer Workers Personal Accident Insurance

Personal Accident Cover for volunteers (which is similar to the State Government’s compulsory work cover for paid employees) covers volunteers for certain out-of-pocket expenses following accidental injury, disability or death while carrying out their work on behalf of the organisation.

Depending on the policy, this type of insurance should normally cover loss of income. It is important to remember that this cover is rarely included in Public Liability Insurance, and therefore a separate policy needs to be taken out with the insurance broker or underwriter. Personal Accident Insurance is usually reasonably priced and easy to obtain. It is important to be aware of any age limit or any activities that might be excluded from this insurance cover. There is usually a $50 – $100 excess for non-Medicare medical expenses. These details are spelt out in the policy wording. Students or work-placements may not be included in this insurance policy. It is therefore important to check the policy before engaging students or work-placements.

Public Liability Insurance

This insurance covers the organisation’s legal liability to pay damages to a third party (e.g. member of the public or clients of the organisation) for personal injury or property damage accidentally caused by a member of the organisation including its volunteers.

A separate or extended cover can be taken out to include legal costs in relation to a claim being made against the organisation. Some insurance brokers will include Product Liability as an extension of their Public Liability Policy.

Directors & Officers Liability Insurance

This insurance is specifically designed to indemnify committee members and office bearers for loss, including legal costs where they have been proven to be negligent in the course of performing their role in the organisation.

It is important to be familiar and understand the wording of this policy particularly the extent of cover and specific exclusions under the policy.

Professional Indemnity Insurance

Brokers and insurance companies can combine Professional Indemnity and Directors and Officers Liability Insurance into one policy. Professional Indemnity Insurance is expensive and may not be necessary for all organisations.

It is therefore important to seek professional advice before taking out this insurance cover. This cover can be designed to compensate organisations for loss incurred through a claim made against the organisation for breach of professional duty or advice arising from negligence, error, omission, defamation, loss of records or documents, dishonest acts, etc. by volunteers (including management committee members) and paid staff. It is important to be familiar with and understand the wording of this policy as it often has a number of inclusions and exclusions.

Motor Vehicle Comprehensive Insurance

This insurance covers vehicles owned and driven by volunteers or paid staff for loss or damage to the vehicle or third party property.

It is important for your organisation to have a motor vehicle policy (in addition to insurance) if volunteers or paid staff are using their own motor vehicle or the organisation’s vehicle in the course of their work requirements. It is advisable for volunteers to inform their motor vehicle insurer, if they are using their own vehicle in the course of their voluntary work.

If you have agency vehicles, it is important to check whether your insurance policy has any age or license restrictions for paid or volunteer staff use. For example, some policies may exclude or have an excess for drivers under the age of 25 or who are on their Probationary license. 

Property & Contents Insurance

This insurance includes damage or theft to the organisation’s property or contents. It is similar to Household Contents Insurance. This does not usually cover a volunteer or paid staff member’s personal belongings unless explicitly negotiated. 

Cyber Security

This is a new and growing area of risk for all organisations, especially in relation to strengthened privacy and data protection responsibilities to organisations under the Notifiable Data Breaches amendment to The Privacy Act 1988, which commenced on 22 February 2018. The issue of cyber security becomes particularly important given the possibilities for remote and virtual volunteering.

Other types of insurance for organisations to consider are Product Liability and Event Insurance.

Aon Insurance

Aon is a supporting partner of The Centre for Volunteering to assist The Centre in our role as a peak body for volunteering. Aon offers a dedicated team with over 30 years’ industry experience helping Not for Profits with their risk and insurance requirements, with their head office located in Sydney, Australia. Aon also brings a global expertise and research capabilities that enable us to offer a holistic approach to understanding Not for Profit’s risk profiles.

One of the significant benefits of Aon as an insurance provider is their policies have no age restrictions. Some insurance companies do place age restrictions on their insurance for volunteers. You should contact your insurance provider to check whether there are any age restrictions in place.

Aon also have a great FAQ document for NFP’s which you can view here. You can also view a factsheet about Events Public Liability & Risk Management here.

Risk management

Risk management is a process used to identify the extent and nature of the risks involved in the activities carried out by an organisation. It helps you assess your organisation’s activities, develop policies and procedures to mitigate risk, and reduce the likelihood or seriousness of a hazardous incident occurring. While the process will identify the types of insurance coverage your organisation may need, insurable events are best avoided wherever possible. In addition to an insurance claim, consequences to be avoided by effective risk management include harm to a person, damage to property, your organisation’s ongoing viability being compromised and failure to meet your legislative obligations such as those outlined in:

Not-for-profit Law

Visit Not-for-profit Law’s website to view their risk management and insurance guide that can help your organisation identify and address risks including OHS, negligence and risks involving employees.

Disclaimer: The Centre for Volunteering has made every effort to ensure the appropriateness of the information contained above. However, as the information is for general use and is not intended to serve as advice, no warranty is given in relation to the accuracy, reliability or appropriateness of any information. No part of the information is intended to replace detailed and expert advice in respect of individual circumstances. Users of this information are therefore encouraged to consult with their chosen professional advisers before making any decision. The Centre for Volunteering disclaims all and any liability to any person in respect to any consequence of actions or otherwise based on information contained herein.