Human Resources

Insurance Coverage for Volunteers: Head Start Volunteer Policies

Volunteers must be covered against liability insurance to the same extent as staff that perform similar tasks. This information outlined in this policy will be a benefit to grantees and delegate agencies when making decisions about insurance coverage.

Insurance Coverage for Volunteers

Insurance costs for social service programs, especially programs serving children, have risen drastically in recent years. For an agency to have adequate protection, its insurance policies must include volunteers. The volunteer plan should include an examination of the agencies insurance policies regarding volunteers. Knowledge of State laws and insurance company policies for child care programs is an important prerequisite for this task. Many States have recently introduced new legislation regarding volunteers and voluntary programs. Agencies should be aware of this legislation in negotiating insurance coverage.

Every agency should have a general liability insurance policy that protects the agency and its staff against liability for accidents to children, staff, volunteers, parents, and visitors. This kind of insurance policy covers negligence by the insured parties resulting in bodily injury, property damage or loss, and defense against a legal suit. This kind of insurance policy usually does not protect volunteers unless they have been specifically included in the coverage. Volunteers must be covered against liability to the same extent as staff that performs similar tasks.

Another kind of insurance coverage that may affect volunteers is transportation liability insurance. Programs that use volunteers' or parents' vehicles to transport children must first be certain that the owner of the vehicle carries liability insurance. If the coverage is less than the amount required for a vehicle transporting children, a Head Start grantee can pay the additional cost for adequate insurance coverage. In some States, sponsoring agencies may be able to obtain volunteers' excess liability insurance or social service excess auto coverage. This kind of insurance extends a sponsoring agency's policy to cover volunteers using their own vehicles to transport children. However, this kind of policy only provides coverage over and above the individual's own insurance policy. Sponsoring agencies must have proof of insurance policies for all private cars used for transportation for its participants.