GUELPH, ON, Dec. 5, 2006 – “On this, the United Nations Day of the Volunteer, The Co-operators would like to acknowledge and thank the countless volunteers whose efforts so positively contribute to Canadian communities.” – Kathy Bardswick, president and CEO of The Co-operators.
The Co-operators is taking action to address the growing issues of insurance availability, affordability, volatility and accessibility facing Canada’s non-profit and voluntary sectors. Today Bardswick announced measures to address these challenges and support the work of the six million Canadians who volunteer with organizations across the country.
Price instability and the lack of availability of insurance for non-profit organizations have been affecting the sector for a number of years. They have resulted in budget problems and program cuts, and impacted groups’ ability to recruit volunteers, particularly those who are concerned about personal liability. The Co-operators Community Advisory Panel in Moncton – an advisory group comprised of community leaders – raised the issue with company representatives in 2004. In response to their concerns, The Co-operators established a cross-company committee to examine the issues and develop solutions.
“We are committed to helping build safer, stronger communities,” said Bardswick. “We need to better support our volunteers by addressing their unique insurance needs, so they can continue to strengthen the social fabric of our country. Our goal is to become the insurer of choice for volunteers and the non-profit sector.”
As The Co-operators continues to work on longer-term solutions, it has clarified the coverage it currently makes available through its home and auto policies for clients acting in volunteer capacities.
The Co-operators homeowner’s insurance policies automatically provide some coverage for volunteers. If a client, working as a volunteer, is responsible for injuring someone or damaging property, the liability coverage of the homeowner’s policy will provide protection. It will also cover defence costs, subject to any policy exclusions, if the client becomes the subject of a lawsuit concerning bodily injury or damage to property resulting from their actions as a volunteer.
The Co-operators also set out automatic coverages, subject to the limits and conditions of the policy purchased, for those who use their vehicles to carry out normal volunteer activities. All coverages that apply under normal circumstances also apply when a vehicle is used for volunteering. “Whether you’re a driver for Meals On Wheels, a coach driving your team to a game, or a volunteer firefighter using your vehicle to get to a fire – your Co-operators auto policy protects you,” said Bardswick. “However, every situation is unique so clients are encouraged to discuss their circumstances with their agents to make sure the terms of their policies are right for them.”
The coverages under The Co-operators auto and home policies apply to volunteers, as long as they do not benefit financially from the activities. In other words, being reimbursed for expenses such as meals and gas does not affect your standing as a volunteer. The company uses Canada Revenue Agency’s allowable maximum expenses for volunteers as a guideline.
The Co-operators is exploring longer-term solutions and is expected to announce further measures shortly that will help make insurance more affordable and less volatile for the sector. Because these organizations are particularly vulnerable to the effects of changing premiums, The Co-operators is considering ways to make rates more stable, for example by increasing the length of a policy term, lengthening renewal periods, or limiting rate increases. Also being considered is the development of a risk management program tailored to the sector, which would result in better coverage and reduced rates.
About The Co-operators:
The Co-operators is a group of Canadian companies focussing on insurance, as well as investment products and property development. Owned by 33 Canadian co-operatives, credit unions and like-minded organizations, the group includes Co-operators General Insurance Company, Co-operators Life Insurance Company, Sovereign General Insurance Company, L’UNION CANADIENNE COMPAGNIE D’ASSURANCE, and HB Group Insurance. Well-known for its philanthropy and community involvement, The Co-operators is proud to be an Imagine Caring Company. www.cooperators.ca.