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Hi all,
I was elected to the VP position in our bee association and my wife has a concern concerning insurance liability.
My wife and I are on another 501C's board of directors and in that organization, legal council strongly suggested that the Board members purchase insurance that covers us from any liability. The insurance is fairly expensive (about $1000 per year for the entire Board) and would deplete the club's finances.
Since the bee club will be putting on public events, it is within reason to believe that someone could get stung and could pursue legal action. Since club officers are typically the ones organizing events, does that make them liable for any damages or injuries that occur? I'm wondering how other clubs handle the liability issue. Does a general liability waiver cover the officer's and club?
Can someone please tell me something to say to my wife to keep her from worrying about losing the house?
Thanks in advance!
 

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I'm no attorney, but I think it depends on how your club is structured. Is you club registered as a corporation of some type in your state? If so, I would think that the club itself would be liable if they were sued at a club-sponsored event. I'd recommend talking to an attorney. Either way any attorney worth his salt is going to tell you to buy the insurance.
 

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In Maine our state association has d&o insurance that extends to all MSBA members for bona fide scheduled events - club meetings, open hives, etc. If a club member/officer is not part of the state association they are out of luck (with the state's policy anyway) and the club or themselves needs to provide the coverage. I have no idea how they do things in GA, but it would be worth researching with your state organization.
 

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In Canada it is advisable for associations, societies to have directors insurance as individuals can be sued personally. This type of insurance gives directors/ board members protection.
 

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As long as you conduct yourselves as a corporation, and don't do something willfully negligent or against your bylaws or civil law then you should be protected by the corporate "veil." If an event takes place on your property then you are much more liable in case of a mishap. And of course anyone can sue anyone for any reason. But most likely your bylaws have a clause pledging to endemnify you in case you are sued. Then again I barely got out of high school.

But if you just want something to tell your wife that should fill the bill. If you want good information you need to talk to an attorney.
 

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Hi all,
I was elected to the VP position in our bee association and my wife has a concern concerning insurance liability.
I do know that many clubs in my area have some sort of insurance coverage- and there have been issues with refusal of the companies to agree to re-insure due to the beekeeping nature of the group. There is some sort of agro tourism law in Virginia that alleges some sort of protection if you enter an agricultural type event, but it has never been tested. I think that if your association is a registered not for profit perhaps there is a tiny little bit more protection, or maybe the insurance costs just a little bit less- this is what I recall from much debate that went on in this area about groups becoming 501(c)3 - federal recognized not for profits. It is sad that so much money has to be spent on insurance especially when a model such as Andrew mentions in Maine where local clubs could fall under the State coverage makes so much more sense and I am sure other States could emulate it. The UK has a similar insurance model, as does other national associations that provide insurance to their chapters.
 

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I chair a land trust (non profit) here in CT. We recently voted to discontinue directors insurance policy. It was expensive and appeared redundant.
 

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A couple of thoughts from a non-laywer.

For your own smallish business, it is probably ok to have insurance _or_ corporate veil to limit any damages to the asssets of your business or of the insurance coverage. In this case you have a lot of control over what you are doing or not doing. At some point, your business is valuable enough that it should have its own insurance to keep itself in business.

In a club, you are trying to attract responsible and active board members. In order to do so, insurance is almost a must...you want someone with a nice house and lots of assets to feel comfortable working for the club despite the nature of the club that involves stinging insects (that some people are deathly allergic to), being outside (where someone can twist an ankle or have a medical emergency where help isn't at hand), dealing with money, etc.

When a law suit occurs (lets say someone breaks their leg and hits their head running from stinging bees from a dropped frame and has a lifetime of medical costs...either for them or for their insurance company), the entity persuing the suit is going to look at where the assets are. Suing a non-profit and incorporated bee club with less than $1000 in the bank and no insurance is a waste of time...a board member or home owner that is hosting the event, or a volunteer guest speaker (or one being paid $50) who owns a home is a much richer target.

Imagine if someone that was dependant on you (your child) was injured so they could never hold a regular job at an event...you are going to look to see who might be responsible so you can make sure they are provided for after you are unable to care for them. If the bee club has only $1000 in assetts, you are going to start looking for insurance...if there is none, you will look at other related parties (like the homeowner, the club officer, or the guest speaker that didn't make it clear that being stung was possible).

The goal of this insurance policy is to be a big enough, easy target for law suits that officers, club members, venue owners, etc are not likely to be sued individually.

And remember, anything can happen at any time...people are driving, using tools, working with bees, impacting neighbors.

Not club related, but recently, for our business, I needed some lumber...a 10 pack of 1x3s from HD. I almost sent one of our workers, but went myself at the last minute. As I was taking the bundle down, there was a large brass staple sticking out at a very bad angle....things fell, and it scraped all across my palm and wrist...it was just a scratch, but it was only a millimeter away from tearing my writs open in the asile of HD. If that had been an employee, I don't even want to think about not being insured...for even doing a simple task like getting some lumber.
deknow
 

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"you are going to look to see who might be responsible so you can make sure they are provided for after you are unable to care for them. If the bee club has only $1000 in assetts, you are going to start looking for insurance...if there is none, you will look at other related parties (like the homeowner, the club officer, or the guest speaker that didn't make it clear that being stung was possible)."

What you are saying is not incorrect, but it's a shame that we have come to accept as a culture that if anything unfortunate happens that it is acceptable to abscond from any personal responsibility (no one is at such an event against their will) and start looking for who it would be most profitable to sue.

Get some personal liability insurance, and then don't talk about the fact that you are covered for a million or whatever. It is not expensive if you already have the usual suite of insurance. In case you are sued your insurance will pay to defend you while the value of it is not a visible target. And conduct yourself so that "gross willful negligence" never can be used to describe your actions. Also make people sign waivers - they might still sue you, but at least they have to publicly break their written word to do it.

And of course - not a lawyer here. So don't sue me.
 

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"Imagine if someone that was dependant on you (your child) was injured so they could never hold a regular job at an event...you are going to look to see who might be responsible so you can make sure they are provided for after you are unable to care for them. If the bee club has only $1000 in assetts, you are going to start looking for insurance...if there is none, you will look at other related parties (like the homeowner, the club officer, or the guest speaker that didn't make it clear that being stung was possible)."

I find it sad that enough people feel this way that we are even having to have this discussion. Whatever happened to personal responsibility.

Johnny
 

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If someone gets food poisoning at a club event or if an officer hits a pedestrian in a crosswalk after having a few beers at a club meeting, I want the liability focus to be on the club, not on my own personal liability insurance.
I don't have any control over what the other officers might do or recommend to members.

But you always have to look at this kind of exposure with a 'worst case' in mind (if you want to be protected in the worst case). An otherwise responsible and trustworthy person may not have the luxury of 'being reasonable' if they are unable to work again or if they are in need of expenisve medical care (or a wheelchair van). Even more concerning is if they are unable to speak for themselves or if they are a child? Are you going to explain to a non-beekeeper guardian (and the health insurance company) that a recommendation that smoke and a veil is not needed to simply change a feeder was sound advice and the fact that they got 20 stings on the face, fell backwards and hit their head was not a result of bad advice? ...to a parent that is trying to figure out how to provide the best care for their child when they are dead?

I do know someone that died from bee stings. I don't know any way to be prudent when teaching new beekeepers without telling them that they should be tested for sting allergies before exposing themselves to bees and to carry their own epipen if they are concerned.

Generally when we do workshops, I tell people they might get stung, but no promises.

deknow
 

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Speaking for myself, I've dropped a frame of bees, I've started a fire (almost needed the fire dept) with a poorly lit smoker, had a young woman get stung on the eyelid after my wife told her she wouldn't get stung if she stood where she was standing, I've tripped over equipment that I forgot was behind me, I've had to handle bees that were essentially unhandleable in a small yard with kids playing 5 feet away (I was called in because these bees nearly killed a dog), we've had state meetings where the state club president brought bees with AFB (not on purpose), I've heard speakers at clubs claim that beekeepers don't get cancer (when there was at least one beekeeper a couple of years from death due to cancer in the audience), I've heard a club officer (who is also a bee inspector) suggest more than once to put apistan strip in the winter cluster, I've heard the EAS president suggest that walkaway splits should be checked for cells 10-14 days after grafting, I've heard our state president say, "if you don't feed your bees fumidil, they will die".

Some of this is plain bad advice, some is stupid statement, and some is dangerous. Would you want to tap into your personel liability insurance because someone else started a fire with a smoker?

If you don't have the funds to afford insurance for the club, I'd suggest that you are better off being an informal club without a BOD....let everyone be responsible for themselves.

deknow
 

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If you don't have the funds to afford insurance for the club, I'd suggest that you are better off being an informal club without a BOD....let everyone be responsible for themselves.
Again - not a lawyer, but I'm pretty sure that is the perfect recipe for fungible liability. Such as being named in a lawsuit for something that happened at a club event that you did not even attend - but you are the VP and appear prosperous, so why not? That is exactly what a correctly run corporate entity is designed to prevent. Is it not?

I really believe that you are being unrealistically pessimistic. Sure, anything could happen - a chunk of cheese might fall off of the moon and total your car. But at some point you are advocating being so cautious that the only "reasonable" choice is to decline participation in an organization because to do so might result in liability exposure under some circumstance. God forbid serve as an officer. If everyone took your advice to heart how many beekeepers associations would there be? Even having a cup of coffee and talking about bees might be too much exposure. We should probably just all stay home. And lock the door.

You aren't an insurance agent are you?
 

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I'm no insurance agent, and I'm no lawyer.

My thinking is that if you have a registered organization with bylaws and a BOD, then to some extent, members of the BOD are responsible for the actions of the board....or at least the club is. If the club has no insurance (or not much insurance), the members of the BOD are likely to be the next target.

I agree you can scare yourself into never leaving the house, but any time you are involved in an activity where someone might be operating a motor vehicle, it seems prudent to think about liability.

One of our wholesale customers requires that we have commercial insurance on our delivery vehicle (1996 Honda wagon on a salvage title)...enough insurance so they aren't worried about being the only target if there is an accident while delivering.

It's one thing if you are picking out your own BOD from among people you know and want to work with, but what happens when someone new is elected in who drinks and drives? ...who has a habit of staring at women's chests and making inappropriate comments? Who tells a new beekeepers not to wear a veil?

If you've been in the world a while, you realize these people exist and that sometimes you end up working with them.

Anyone here part of a club that doesn't have insurance for the BOD?

Personally, as I said before, I'd rather have something informal where there is no one in charge. A series of potluck yard visits and/or discussions would feel safer to me than a BOD, bylaws and no insurance.


deknow
 

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Again - not a lawyer, but I'm pretty sure that is the perfect recipe for fungible liability. Such as being named in a lawsuit for something that happened at a club event that you did not even attend - but you are the VP and appear prosperous, so why not? That is exactly what a correctly run corporate entity is designed to prevent. Is it not?

I really believe that you are being unrealistically pessimistic. Sure, anything could happen - a chunk of cheese might fall off of the moon and total your car. But at some point you are advocating being so cautious that the only "reasonable" choice is to decline participation in an organization because to do so might result in liability exposure under some circumstance. God forbid serve as an officer. If everyone took your advice to heart how many beekeepers associations would there be? Even having a cup of coffee and talking about bees might be too much exposure. We should probably just all stay home. And lock the door.

You aren't an insurance agent are you?
I tend to agree with David...Yes we live in a very litigious society, but at some point you have to stop "what if-ing" every situation to death and live life. I was at the ABF conference in Baton Rouge last week and one of the vendors was an insurance company that specializes in writing policies for beekeepers. In talking to another conference attendee who had looked into getting a policy with them, she advised that in her conversations with the insurance company, they had advised her that they had NEVER payed a bee related claim. I found that extremely interesting...
 

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Well, you don't need insurance until you need it, right? If you feel like you can get by w/out coverage, you may be right. Until you find out you were wrong.
 

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they had advised her that they had NEVER payed a bee related claim
Does that mean they have never had a claim, or, does it mean they have found a way to wiggle out of it every time one came along ?

An insurance policy that wont pay out, is worse than none at all.
 

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Well, you don't need insurance until you need it, right? If you feel like you can get by w/out coverage, you may be right. Until you find out you were wrong.
You know I kinda scoffed at that when I first read it, but after thinking about it for a while I have realized that no truer words were ever spoken than "You don't need it until you need it." And I realize now how negligent I have been.

You never know when a heavy object is gonna land on your foot - so why even own shoes that don't have steel toes?

And from now on I should probably wear one of those tactical helmets like swat guys wear - cause I mean, head trauma, that would be bad.

And some body armor too, cause you never know when some aging police officer or neighborhood watch guy is going to fear for his safety and start exercising his 2nd amendment rights into your chest.

But movie theatres seem particularly imprudent places to be these days. And public schools. Probably should just avoid public places all together. And the public.

Because bad things never happen - until they do. You just can't argue with that.

:D
 
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