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

The insurance broker is the agent of the organisation and arranges insurance for individuals or organisations having negotiated the best possible policy terms and premium from the insurance market. The insurance broker may renegotiate with different underwriters from time to time in order to get the best deal.

The Queensland State Government passed a Civil Liability Act 2003 which has a volunteer protection clause included. Volunteers working in registered not-for-profit organisations engaged in voluntary activities defined by the organisation are protected from legal action provided they are not acting outside the law. 

Volunteering Queensland 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 where volunteers are 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 you 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

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.

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.rnrnA 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 (https://www.oaic.gov.au/privacy-law/privacy-act/notifiable-data-breaches-scheme) Notifiable Data Breaches amendment to (https://www.legislation.gov.au/) The Privacy Act, 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.

Volunteering Australia and Aon Insurance

Visit Volunteering Australia’s website for information sheets explaining your insurance options, how to get the right cover, cyber liability insurance and more. This includes a link to Aon Insurance’s Comprehensive Insurance for Volunteering Organisations VA Resource Centre and NFP Insurance Puzzle Solver, which is a quick, interactive and customer-friendly tool which asks you a few Yes/No questions about your organisation’s activities to recommend the insurance required by your organisation. It also gives you the opportunity to apply online only for those covers.

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:

Further information that can assist you with your risk management process can be found on the following websites:

Worksafe Queensland

Blue Card Services (Managing child-related risks)

For links to Driving-related risk management see the below:

RACQ – Become a Safer Older Driver

Department of Transport and Main Roads Passenger Transport Driver Authorisations

Department of Transport and Main Roads Passenger Transport Operator Accreditations

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.

Further information

To talk about risk management and insurance covers and their content, contact our team on 3002 7600.

For more detailed information or quotes for any of the above insurance covers, please contact:

Disclaimer: Volunteering Queensland 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. Volunteering Queensland disclaims all and any liability to any person in respect to any consequence of actions or otherwise based on information contained herein.

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