Ever since coronavirus was declared a pandemic and national emergency in March 2020, one example of its impact is its effect on sports, from professional levels to local youth sports teams.
Like some sports organizations, you may have canceled most of your activities for the majority of 2020. However, with vaccine distributions underway and best practices for mitigation being refined, you may be considering – or have already begun – a cautious return to play.
ESP Specialty understands protecting your youth participants’ health and safety is a significant priority. Resuming play in the age of coronavirus comes with added risk management concerns. Let us help you identify the best ways to protect your youth participants and your organization.
MANAGING RISK THROUGH YOUTH SPORTS TEAM INSURANCE
Risk management is nothing new for youth sports teams. Youth sports liability insurance has always been necessary to protect organizations against lawsuits, injuries, accidents, and more. When it comes to coronavirus, youth sports teams should apply risk management processes as you would with any other significant threat.
No carrier can guarantee protection against lawsuits related to COVID-19 transmission under General Liability youth sports team insurance. In fact, many carriers now include an exclusion, or a provision that takes away coverage, for communicable diseases. Other potential exclusions that could result in claim denial include intentional injury exclusion and pollution exclusion.
Coronavirus transmission could certainly fall under the definition of an “occurrence” under your policy, and it does present a health threat. If you faced a lawsuit related to transmission, your youth sports team insurance coverage would depend on whether or not an exclusion applies.
Legal risks from coronavirus to youth sports teams
There are no known coronavirus transmission lawsuits against youth sports organizations. If one were to occur, it most likely would be a negligence lawsuit. However, most insurance industry experts believe it would be extremely challenging to prove negligence or causation.
To win a coronavirus negligence lawsuit, the claimant has to prove all four of the following:
- Duty owed to claimant: proof your responsibilities to the claimant included protection against COVID-19 transmission
- Breach of duty: proof you violated your responsibilities by not following mandatory regulations from the CDC, state or local authorities, sports governing bodies, and others.
- Breach of duty as the proximate cause of sickness: proof your breach of duty was explicitly the cause of the claimant’s coronavirus infection. The claimant needs proof they did not have the virus before the event. They also need to prove they did not come into contact or share spaces with anyone else who had the virus before, on the way to, or after the event.
- Damages: proof of the claimant’s medical bills, disability, pain & suffering, etc.
One example preventative measure is adding COVID-19 language to waiver/release agreements for your youth sports participants. However, the most effective way to protect your organization from potential coronavirus-related lawsuits is to encourage safety during youth sports activities.
Encouraging coronavirus safety during your youth sports events
How can you encourage your youth sports participants’ safety in the age of coronavirus? Many generalized guidelines exist to help promote coronavirus safety during youth sports events. Each community should make adjustments to meet its unique needs and circumstances.
You should consult with state and local health officials to discuss the particular situation of your community. Here are a few things to consider as a starting point:
- How is your local community handling COVID-19? If community coronavirus infection levels are high or increasing, your youth sports organization may not be ready to return to play.
- Does your sport require contact or close proximity between players? Consider modifying play to maintain physical distancing as much as possible. You could try focusing on individual skill-building or internal team scrimmages rather than competition.
- Can your practices and competitions be held outdoors? Indoor sports present a higher risk than outdoor sports, especially for high-intensity activities. If you must remain indoors, ensure proper ventilation, filtration, and airflow.
Review these CDC considerations for COVID-19 and youth sports for more information and ideas on keeping your youth sports teams as safe as possible.
While your youth sports team insurance may include coronavirus-related exclusions, it is still essential to have the appropriate coverage for various situations. Most insurance industry experts believe COVID-19 liability poses a much lower severity risk than injury, participant accidents, sex abuse, molestation, or crime.
As a result, insuring your youth sports team in the age of coronavirus may not look too different from insuring your organization from other, more “familiar” threats. Want some more in-depth advice or custom youth sports liability insurance solutions? Get in touch with Team ESP.
Go Ahead, We’ve Got You Covered.