Should I have Insurance for this? (Liabilty issue)

My gf and I like to kayak the rivers, lakes, and streams in our area. Recently, I posted on a few sites that we would be happy to have folks join us. Since then, I’ve had to create an email list to keep those interested updated. We have done a few trips and have met a bunch of new friends.

An acquaintance pointed out that we should purchase “event insurance” to cover our liability. She tends to be an insurance freak; she purchased an event policy for a family reunion she hosted. I look at our kayak trips as outings where I coordinate things, that is all. I would feel silly having people sign a release/waiver, but maybe that would be appropriate. What is the straight dope?

(if this is more of an IMHO, mods feel free to move it. I was thinking there would be a factual answer)

I am not an insurance agent nor am I a lawyer. I’d hate to think that if you gather up a group of people to go kayaking that one would hold you responsible if something were to happen to one of them. If you don’t own the river and you’re not collecting money and offering river tours, how are you liable?

It sounds like your board posting is just sharing information about places to paddle and offering to join people in doing so. I don’t see a liablility there but someone with much more knowledge will come along and probably prove me wrong. :wink:

By the way, I kayak in NW Ohio, where do you paddle?

That would not surprise me at all. Have you seen some lawsuits that have been filed recently?

We mostly paddle in southwest PA on the Conemaugh’Loyalhanna/Kiski Rivers as well as further north on the Allegheny (where we saw eagles a few weeks ago). We are always up for new adventures, and would be happy to check out the Buckeye State if ever invited.:wink:

As long as I don’t need to sign a release or waiver.:smiley:

It depends on how formal you want things to be.

I’m a cyclist, and we have a group ride every weekend, open to anyone who wants to come along. We are mostly racers and the ride tends to be at a fast pace, but we realize that most riders self select and won’t join out group it they are not up to it. No insurance, and although there have been a few accidents, no legal action.

Many of the riders on this ride are on a team (sanctioned through a regional cycling body) and we could obtain insurance for our training rides, though this would mean limiting to rides to team members only. We do not bother doing that. The training rides are informal. Ride at your own risk.

We also hold races, which have a prize list and require an entry fee. For this, we do run the race with permits and insurance from the regional cycling body, which also issues racing licences that every rider must have. Since we charge money (and hope to make a bit of profit) for these races, we make sure we have insurance.

A quick search show Kayaking has its own sanctioing body. It seems similar to cycling, though I can’t tell if they have insurance for simple training events (similar to our weekend rides).

You don’t need insurance unless you’re operating a kayak business.

If it’s a mutually shared recreational event where you get together on the water and some one screws up and is injured I can’t see how you could be liable.

Should you be sued in that circumstance your homeowners policy should provide a defense for you.

Thanks everyone for the reassuring words. I mostly wanted to make sure I wasn’t being negligent, and my homeowners policy is something I never thought of.

I think there might be more risk than you think. People get hurt kayaking all the time. If you post a message inviting people to join you on a kayaking trip, they will reasonably assume that you are using a certain degree of care in planning the outing. What if you do the trip on a river that’s a lot more dangerous than your guests realize? What if there is a warning out about a certain location that you are unaware of, but could have easily learned of with a web search?

Even if a claim is frivolous, it’s nice to be able to just call your carrier and let them take over.

What I would do is this: Call your insurance broker and ask. I would guess that you can get liability insurance to cover you without a lot of expense.

Anyone can be sued for almost anything under any number of nitwit theories that personal responsibility is never the actual reason for misfortune. A successful suit is another issue, but even there I’m always surprised at who is willing to assign damages for what, and defense costs money.

Talk to your agent, but it occurs to me this is just the sort of thing a good umbrella policy would cover. Specific “event insurance” will leave you naked to the tort system somewhere else.


Please please promise to never serve on any jury where I am getting sued…

The short answer to your question is, “How does that make it MY fault? Do you not have a brain, and do you not take responsibility for your own due diligence?”

Hmmm. I know that the kayaking organization has dealt with that issue and, as a consequence, has many fewer sponsored trips and many more unofficial “show and goes”. I would * think * that as long as you’re not a club or a registered organization, you’d be OK, but the advertising may put you on shaky ground. It wouldn’t hurt to put in a disclaimer as a signature – e.g. "This is a private trip. We’re not professionals. You’re responsible at all time for judging if you’re sufficiently fit and skilled for the conditions.

Sometimes it’s not entirely one person’s fault or another. In a lot of states, juries can apportion negligence by percentage.

Well, I’ve added a sig line to my emails that goes over that info. :cool:

I am an insurance agent, but I am not your insurance agent, nor do I operate in your state, yadda yadda, but I would recommend an umbrella policy. It covers a lot more than just a single event and generally they are for pretty hefty amounts (the smallest I have ever seen is $500,000 but they may go lower than that) so that were you to be sued for any reason you would be a lot more likely to come away relatively unscathed. They are pretty affordable for the coverage they offer too, so it would be worth looking into if you feel the need.