I’ve been thinking about getting some ACA certs to occasionally teach and be insured to teach real world skills like rolling, lumpy water rescues, surf, etc. But I found out that you have to schedule all of your classes in advance in order to get their insurance, and on the Great Lakes its rather hard to schedule weather in advance. You can increase your odds, but that isn’t good enough. I tried to talk sense into them as I find this a stupid policy, but to no avail. Has anyone ever had luck in doing so? Maybe I just didn’t talk to the right person, but they were quite adamant it couldnt/wouldnt be done, and they suggested contacting someone who insures outfitters. I’m pretty sure for the low volume business I’d be looking at that that would be cost prohibitive. Anyone know of other options, other than “taking my chances”?

how much in advance?
My club uses the ACA Paddle America Club insurance program (which might not be the same as their instructor insurance program, so take this for what it’s worth). We can notify them of an event as late as the afternoon of the day before the event, and even then we can cancel for weather or other legitimate reasons. So do you have the option of waiting as late as possible, then cancelling if necessary?


Submit class info on the web?
I wanna say the ACA has made it easier to submit class info/rooster on their website so you can get insurance quicker and easier. You would just have to make sure anyone participating in your sessions are already ACA members.

I dont think so

– Last Updated: Sep-05-11 12:27 AM EST –

I dont remember the exact details but they came across as very rigid, so I don't think you can do that. That would indicated flexibility, a quality I did not detect.

You might be able to schedule online
But you still cant schedule weather…

In my case
They need to know of a paddle 24 hours in advance, not counting weekends. So the last time to notify them of a weekend event is basically first thing Friday AM. Otherwise the AM beforehand is fine, at least for those retired guys who paddle mid day mid week.

This sounds like you are talking club insurance, not instructor insurance-right?

What’s the big deal?
If you are scheduling clients for instructional courses, you can obtain insurance. If you have to reschedule the date because of weather, you can re-file for insurance. Making sure paperwork is in order is only a small part of running a business.

have you done it?
Are you an ACA instructor? Have you tried canceling and/or rescheduling on very short notice? If so, please tell me about it. If not, why are you replying to this topic?

What it sounds like to me (after reading all of your posts) is that you simply have a bone to pick and you intend to pick it clean.

The ACA provides insurance to instructors for a very reasonable fee and requires that you schedule classes at least a few days in advance. Don’t your students require that you schedule out a bit?

Your message sounds like your griping about having to conform to the policies set forth by the agency that you want to buy insurance from. If you don’t like it or find that the process is to onerous then perhaps you should buy your own insurance and then you can teach all of the last minute classes you want.

One other thing…gaining your L4 Open Water Coastal Kayaking Instructor certification - which is the minimum level of certification you would require, you may require L5 depending on conditions - is not a simple process. Before you worry about the end benefits perhaps you should get you ducks in a row for the front end work.

It would be pointless for me to get my certifications only to be unable to obtain the insurance. That IS getting my ducks in a row. I researched what exactly I could do with the certs and insurance before barging ahead. That IS getting my ducks in a row.

I am griping-I think its unreasonable, given what I desire to teach and where I can teach it, to expect me to schedule the weather. It can’t be done. And I haven’t received a good reason for why this is the case. If I’m certified and therefore deemed competent enough to insure, what does it matter if I or anyone else on the Great Lakes needs to schedule on short notice? Of course they are not obligated to provide anything for me or anyone. I’m just asking what I see as a very reasonable question.

Also, I stated very clearly that I was interested in other, affordable options. In light of that I find YOUR attitude quite puzzling.

My attitude
It derives from someone unwilling to pony up the bucks to get their own insurance complaining that an inexpensive alternative has a few hitches i.e. requiring you to schedule a few days in advance.

NOAA, and NWS can provide you with weather forecasts accurate enough to get you to schedule a class with 48 hours notice, if you have to cancel/postpone then move the dates. If that is to onerous then pony up the $500-$700 annually to get your own insurance, which will also allow you to teach outside of the remit as well.

My attitude also derives from being a professional instructor, who has to schedule classes so I can get students, listen to you complain about the ACA’s policies and how they should be flexible to fit your specific scenario.

My two cents
Without entering the debate on attitude, it seems to me that you’re missing something here.

Generally, event based insurance is cheaper than continuous insurance. But it does have some not totally unreasonable requirements, which you’ve run into now. You may (or may not) be able to obtain full time insurance coverage, in which case dates become no issue, undoubtedly at greater expense. I’m not an agent and can’t tell you if that’s available for outside activities with some risk, though. You;ll simply have to research that the hard way yourself.

As to scheduling and cancelling, I think they’re telling you something very reasonable: you do have to schedule in advance to get enough students enrolled, but you do also have to have your “weather permitting” clause. If you need to cancel a class, having had event based insurance that you paid for but didn’t get to use may or may not be too high a price to pay. I suspect not, and that’s your decision in any case.

Anyone seeking instruction in a kayak class on the actual water will certainly understand the need to cancel at times, and most probably will also want you to schedule enough in advance for them that the insurance advance notice isn’t a true problem.

I could be dead wrong and am sorry if I am. But it seems to me you may need to back up a bit, take another look and another tack with the “problem”.

Yes I can get other insurance, but it will be cost prohibitve. It will easily cost me $700-1000 a year for a classes that might earn me twice that, if I’m lucky.

No I didn’t come here to pick any bone with ACA. Some people, when they encounter something that don’t make sense just move on. Thats fine. But other people like myself question it until they understand it.

I question whether ACA really wants to prevent their instructors from teaching these things on the Great Lakes, because that’s what their policy effectively does (unless the instructor gets really lucky with predicting weather). That doesn’t make sense to me, so I question it. No, NOAA cannot and does not accurately predict 48 hours out in my area. They just don’t. We had 2 false wave forecasts last week alone.

You are assuming that they want it scheduled in advance to allow time to get enough students enrolled, but ACA said nothing about that. I don’t think that is their reason. They would not give me a reason, but the person I talked to probably didn’t know the reason. I think its just a policy that was made for whatever reason, very likely by some office manager with no concept of real world conditions, and circumstances/requests like this are just not something that have come up often enough to cause them them to question it. It looks fine and reasonable on paper, and it also works fine on the coast where there is always waves and surf. But how many people do you know or have you heard of teaching rough water skills in the Great Lakes? I don’t know of anyone doing it within 100 miles. Its entirely possible that nobody has ever asked for this kind of coverage before, so they’re not prepared for it.

Anyway I thank you for your considered, attitude-free reply.

people teach those skills on the lakes
all the time. Maybe not within 100 miles of you area, but classes are offered.

One day ahead of time is pretty short notice for insurance and we are quite lucky to have that as ACA instructors. When you buy private insurance you pay up front for what might happen - that is the nature of insurance. With the ACA you pay upfront (at least 10 days in advance) and a rush fee if you are scheduling up to a day in advance.

The problem runs into people/instructors who want to pay AFTER there is a problem. In other words they don’t pay ahead for something that might happen, they only pay when there is a problem. As you can imagine an insurance company wouldn’t last very long with that business model. The ACA’s concern is probably concerned that if you can file the day of, or after, is that people would only file and pay if there was a problem.

Allowing the insurance coverage to apply to last minute rescheduled classes create an easy loophole for instructors to run a class then reschedule if they felt that didn’t need insurance for the class.

Basically, you are asking the ACA to operate a business model that is not sustainable. The other option is that ACA members/instructors pay much much higher dues for a policy that covers all instructors all the time.

Can you tell me who is teaching these classes all the time, and where? I’d really like to talk to them about how they manage it and make it work. Thanks

The purpose of planning the insurance ahead of time is to give the ACA time to process your request; not to allow you time for increasing the enrollment. Additionally, without the certification by the ACA or the BCU the cost of purchasing insurance is higher.

By the way, the BCU offers no insurance option for its North American members.

Your mention of figuring out the insurance as getting you ducks in a row is exactly what I meant about considering the end benefits rather than sorting out the front end. You are approaching the IDW/ICE process as a foregone conclusion.

As to the weather, do NOAA and NWS get things wrong? Of course they do, but not as wrong as you would try to have me believe. Other schools/instructors successfully schedule classes by sorting out weather/storm averages for when classes are held, especially if they need to be held in heavy conditions. This information is available online and, frequently, there is a charge for this information in the form of a subscription. I assure you, there are other instructors teaching this stuff in your area.


I am not approaching anything as a foregone conclusion. Whether I can get certification is not a topic of this thread, although you keep trying to make it one. You don’t know my experience, skills or abilities, so lets just drop that whole offtopic OK?

if you can assure me that there are other instructors teaching this in my area, then you can surely answer

Who are they?

Where are you?
I’m not sure I want to get into the middle of all this but as far as the argument about predicting conditions is concerned, can you be more specific about where you are located other than “the Great Lakes”? Superior? Michigan? Huron? Since you don’t have a “profile” to look at, it leaves everyone guessing.

But I’d really like to avoid arguments about whether someone or something can predict my local weather accurately enough to schedule days in advance. I’ve been paddling in waves, storms and surf for 15 years, I’m very familiar with the local and regional weather resources and I’ve monitored them regularly year round all these years, so I know them at least as well as anyone else locally, and far better than anyone who isn’t local. And that’s probably everyone on this thread. Instead of assuming I don’t know much of anything as some have already (not you), it would be a safer assumption that I know quite a bit in reference to what I’m talking about. I know what certs I’m capable of obtaining and I know my local weather.