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Jim Davis, Editor
jdavis@heraldnet.com
Published: Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Will your homeowner’s policy cover volunteer service?

At an early age, we have been taught about three main categories of personal finance: spend, save and give.

That may be great advice as we teach our kids about putting money away for a toy they want or the new glove that will make them a better baseball player, but what happens as adults when we start giving back by volunteering? In this column, we’ll take a quick look at your homeowner’s insurance policy and how it may or may not protect you while serving on a board in a volunteer capacity.

Would you call yourself a professional? If you serve on a board in a “professional” capacity, your home policy will most likely exclude liability or property damage coverage while volunteering on the board. Your home policy may also exclude any type of coverage based on the type of board on which you serve.

Each insurance company is different on this issue so it’s best to contact your agent for clarification. Most of us need not worry about the “professional services” issue because we provide service to the board in a capacity other than professional.

The homeowner’s policy will most likely extend coverage for liability and property damage in situations when you’re on the local chamber of commerce board, for example. And, if you have personal injury coverage on your home policy, by endorsement or automatically included, then you would have protection for libel and slander.

Keep in mind, all this protection goes out the window if you have fiduciary duties with the volunteer organization.

The simplest way to make sure protection exists is to ask if the board itself has insurance protection. This should be in the form of a commercial general liability policy and a directors’ and officers’ policy.

I would encourage you to ask this question before you commit your services to any board because the answer to this question may have a huge impact on your answer. I would advise you to only volunteer your time and energy to organizations that carry both of these policies to protect their board members. Leaving it to your home policy is a potentially dangerous proposition.

It’s commendable to give your time and energy to our local nonprofit organizations but it also makes sense to do so smartly and with the proper coverage to take care of personal assets. The last form of charity you want to offer is someone suing you based on your board involvement.

For other questions about your business insurance, contact Paul Pukis at Mosaic Insurance Alliance LLC at 425-320-4280 or SuperAgent@MosaicIA.com.