ACA liability insurance -- what's up?

I’ve now heard from our club (NSPN) and here that the ACA has cancelled or suspended their liability insurance for participating clubs – but no details. Consequently, on-water club activities all have to be “unofficial” for now. (Hmmm… what about off-water activites, like parties?)

Anybody know details? Is it permanent or temporary? Why is it happening? Etc. There’s nothing on the ACA web site about it or, as far as I can tell, findable through Google.

Thanks. --David.

would like to know the particulars
I quit my local paddling club this year because they decided to affiliate w/ACA in order to get their liability insurance. The dues more than doubled and I just couldn’t see the benefit as the insurance only protected the club and its officers from liability.

We lost the carrier and it’s gone till further notice. Something should be going by 01/01, me thinks.

we’ll be discussing it and other liability ?'s at the Coastal Curriculum meeting in January.

I’ll keep the list posted.

maybe if we had ‘certified’ paddlers we wouldn’t be in this mess? :wink: hehe


Yup, We’re On A Mission

– Last Updated: Nov-28-04 5:59 PM EST –

to offend your "certified" sensibilities, ignore you though "you know better" about everything from safety to the type of thermos and, now, to deny you any chance of getting insurance coverage. But worry not, nothing bad can happen because you really know how to handle everything out there. You're "certified!"

Some of us just plain rejoice in not being part of the "team." :) LOL!


Screw it all!
I did the same thing you did, for similar reasons. No reason to volunteer any time or effort to be put on the line for some lawsuit-happy turd. So now it’ll be hard to find leaders for even the easiest, bail-outs-all-along-shore, trip-cancelled-if-windy type of paddling. After all, people can drown in a freakin’ swimming pool.

Reading the comments in the “Leadership certifiction” thread and other posts in the last year has only bolstered my decision to not join any

“official” clubs. All the micro-regulation and other bureaucratic claptrap does is turn off people who already know any sport is undertaken at one’s own risk. Geez.

Seems like all this stuff designed to promote paddling might end up doing the opposite. While I am all for continued learning, if the first step is set so high that only paid, insured, certified paddlers can lead trips or teach anything to anyone, that will (a) kill participation in places where such instruction does not exist, and (b) deny countless paddlers the benefit of learning from more experienced but uncertified paddlers.

We have story about big tilapia in small pond. This is like the Philippines.


ACA – details?
So, I assume you are a bigwig in the ACA, correct? If so, I appreciate the information.

However, that’s roughly the same story I got from our local club president, which is to say, not much. Is there more? Why did the underwriter pull out? Is there any essential problem that will bite again? Will things change – rates go up? processes change? more rules? etc?

Thanks. --David.

Who benefits
Well, if the insurance encourages more leaders to run more trips, there is benefit to all.

Also, assuming your club is doing generally good things (mine is), I can’t see the point in an avid, active paddler pulling out.

Is it the money? What are the yearly dues? $25? $30? Heck, I bet lots of us spend that or more on just car expenses for a paddling weekend away. Membership seems like a bargain, even if it’s only a donation to an outfit that promotes safe, responsible paddling and raises the image of paddlers. (My club is 501©(3) so I can even deduct the dues.)


I spose i"m parinoid , but isn’t
that the point Dowd was trying to make at the start ? Have you ever read the policy’s they don’t know what they are tryin to regulate and make a profit . So they need rules or standards , there will be a solution soon , cause it’s gonna come down to makin a profit.This is all new ground .

This is what is up
The insurance company refused to issue policy with the same coverage (they wanted reduced, of course). The ACA said the offered coverage was inadequate and refused to sign up. So now instructors cannot run trips or offer classes with ACA insurance. That impacts our group because the school system that we run our classes through requires proof of insurance. We are facing cancelling all of our Spring activities. Our only choice, unless ACA finds another carrier, is to incorporate as a not for profit. That costs money, which we do not have. So this is not a joke to us. And for the students out there who don’t receive basic training, including safety training, it could be a tragedy. Joke about certification and make snide remarks if you wish. But it is a serious issue.

Our club received a letter from the ACA
saying our insurance deductible would be as much as $5,000 per claim for their insurance. But that still makes it the best deal around. We are a 501©(3) non-profit and we still can’t get insurance coverage on our own. Since the officers of the club are doing all the work for free, the ability to have insurance makes the difference in whether there is a club or not. None of us can afford to take on the liability for nothing. It’s especially a loss for the newbies who have nowhere else to get information and training or to meet other experienced kayakers. We’re going to try to raise a $5,000 insurance reserve to hold in case we ever do get sued. It’s a sad situation. I’m not sure who to blame, but it certainly isn’t the clubs or even the ACA.

No Joke…

– Last Updated: Nov-29-04 6:25 AM EST –

Yes it's a serious issue, although who is to blame -- insurance company, suit happy folks and their lawyers, I don't know...

I mentioned this in another thread already. I run a non-profit, community center that offers gym and swim programs as well as outdoor excursions. Our very expensive insurance coverage (that one we were able to get) banned us from taking canoe trips long ago. Most recently we can't take kids, under age six, down to the pool. Not even for swimming lessons. My staff all have First Aid, CPR, WSI and some even with degrees in physical education. You would think these make a difference... Nope. Insurance company wants our premium but have no risk whatsoever in a payout. I would dump the insurance in a second, except that would affect ALL programs including those are class room base and have nothing to do with gym/swim/rec.

So, the joke about "certification" is serious. You all can pursue your "certification" to lead paddlers who are likewise "certified" but I think that increasingly the insurance companies won't even accept that. If they do, it will be at a significant premium.


How’s This…
We paid well over 20K to cover all the activities at the center. Okay, let’s reduce that just for NSPN since it’s much smaller. But, at the same time, NSPN activities are considered high liability. Okay, assume you can even find an provider, if the premium is $5,000 a year and split among the current members what would it be?

It may be still worth it for the majority of the members. Me, I would take the money and donate it to something truly charitable rather than an insurance coverage.


no way to battle it either
not with the money to be made by certification programs. I mean nobody is going to get rich offering courses but there will be a market if we make one. I am so happy I dont belong to an organized paddling group. I mean, I would think that insurance companies see millions of paddlers out there with no insurance whatsoever and they are drooling over untapped fodder. How can they possibly let people go paddling without paying someone.

Are we going to need proof of insurance and a license with the purchase of a boat and a paddle? Are we going to pat SAR fees up front even though one in ten million of us will never need it? Funny thing is there are many on this board that are promoting this line of thinking without even knowing that is what they are doing. Or maybe they do. More reason to move away from a blue state.

my understanding is that insurance companies lost a fair chunk of money in the stock market decline years ago so low profit products were chucked or bumped up in cost. Also there were a few lawsuits in unrelated recreational fields that tainted the whole area of insuring outfitters/clubs.

My personal experience observing nuisance lawsuits is that they were brought by immature conservatives tight for money and wanted to profit on their misfortune. But that doesn’t make for a big statistical sample.

You are overlooking something.
Without insurance (or incorporation) I, as an instructor, can be held personally liable if someone, say, dislocates a shoulder in pool sessions. There goes my house. There goes my retirement savings. That can be true even if I have exercised the proper “standard of care.” I don’t think many insurance companies have any interest in insuring paddling instructors. And I don’t believe there is some history of claims paid that leads to those decisions.

Growing pains in litigious world
The problem is the kayaking has hit middle and upward America and it it not just for the athletes and explorers anymore. For awhile this provided for growth in the industry, jobs for dealers and instructors, and more people to enjoy the water. Canoe sales were way way down. Looked good.

However, this is what happens. Yes it is tough. It is a clash to those of us who value freedom, few restrictions, and are willing to assume risk. Problem is, many who come out to paddle now, don’t and the world of wrongful death suits is having its effect on our clubs. Our clubs are like old ships that were pretty well buitl but time, salt water, and changing climate has required us to do a major overhaul and rennovation. Many are not willing to do so, I am not sure I am as well. Will we have anything left worth taking out to sea?

Not to get into a political debate (since I rarely enjoy those) but most of the high powered CEO’s, including those of insurance companies, backed the “red.” Insurance is profit driven to nth degree. They not out for the “social good.” The best insurance from their perspective is one where they take in premiums and pay nothing out. And, if there is a pay-out, rest assured the rates go up accordingly. And, then at a certain point, they don’t insure for an activity at all if the pay-offs come even close threathening the black bottom line.


You Know…
some folks are tying their “freedom” to paddle too tightly with having to have clubs (insured) and certifications.

I just don’t buy the approach. I think the notion that we’ll get pulled over by the Coast Guard or Harbor Master to check out our club affliation and/or certification ain’t gonna happen. It’s unenforceable. And, if they try, I would hope every single paddler would contact their legislators accordinly.


Scott, move then

– Last Updated: Nov-29-04 10:53 AM EST –

move it to B&B where you are soooo popular.

>>More reason to move away from a blue state.