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Insurance Coverage for Volunteers

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If you're involved in regular volunteering activities, consider adding Volunteer Wrongful Acts coverage to your State Auto insurance policy. But, what is a volunteer wrongful act? How does it differ from personal liability coverage provided by homeowner, condo or renter policy forms? Let’s take a closer look.

Typical Coverage for Personal Liability

First, let’s look at Personal Liability coverage under the homeowner, condo and renter policies. Personal Liability covers a claim made or a suit brought against an insured for damages because of bodily injury or property damage. In addition, Personal Injury liability may be included (depends on your policy) or can be added.  Personal Injury includes injury caused by offenses such as false arrest, malicious prosecution, wrongful eviction or entry, libel and slander.

How is Volunteer Wrongful Acts Different?

So, how is a volunteer wrongful act different from Personal Liability and Personal Injury?  Under Volunteer Wrongful Acts coverage, we will pay for an amount an insured becomes legally responsible for because of civil claims made against them for a wrongful act. The key here is civil claims. Although ‘civil claims’ isn’t defined, it generally would not include bodily injury, property damage or personal injury. In fact, the first exclusion under Volunteer Wrongful Acts is for liability based on or attributable to bodily injury, property damage or personal injury.

What is a “Volunteer Wrongful Act”?

In the policy, a “volunteer wrongful act” is defined as “actual or alleged error, misleading statement, act or omission, neglect or breach of duty committed by any ‘insured’ during the policy period in the ‘insured’s’ capacity as a volunteer”. So in order for coverage to apply one of these acts would have to be committed and result in a civil claim.

Real Life Example of Volunteer Wrongful Acts

Creating an example of a volunteer wrongful act can be difficult since a real-life situation would involve interpretation from a court. However, here is one potential example:

You volunteer as treasurer of a local non-profit organization. You make an honest error in the accounting records for the organization and overstate the available funds. The organization commits to use of the funds, later discovering the money is not available. A suit is filed against you, as treasurer, for the difference in stated vs. actual funds needed due to your error in accounting records.

How can coverage be added to a policy? It is already included in some State Auto policies and can be added to others. Talk to your insurance agent to find out the best way to cover your specific needs.

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