Last month I wrote to you about changes in the insurance provided by NAVHDA International and the new procedures we had to employ to ensure we were in compliance with International’s new rules.  As training and testing season is now underway, these new procedures have already been implemented.  Although our world of testing and training has become more complex to manage, the implementation has gone well and by this time next year will be second nature for participants and volunteers.

While reading about the new insurance program, I was intrigued about what was said and more so by what wasn’t being said.  As the Board sought to understand International’s policy coverage, the primary question of exactly “who” had insurance protection and under what circumstances, kept bubbling to the surface.  Specifically, we grew concerned that this insurance only protected NAVHDA, it’s Chapters and chapter members from claims by individuals who were third parties or, in other words, non-NAVHDA members. A member injuring another member appeared to be excluded from any insurance protection.  Correspondence from NAVHDA International confirmed this concern:

“This policy covers NAVHDA and its members in case they are sued by the public. It does not cover member to member if something should happen. No atv, cars or equipment.”

In the event a member is injured by another member, the member causing the injury would not be afforded insurance protection for their legal defense, nor the funds to pay any settlement.  In such a lawsuit, only NAVHDA International would be covered.  The member causing the injury and, most likely the event leaders and chapter Board would all NOT be covered, and all of these individuals would need to retain their own attorneys and be responsible for paying the settlement. While your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy may provide some personal liability protection, that amount is usually well below the claim that would be filed for a serious injury or death.

The MN NAVHDA Board felt our members deserved a level of protection in the event of a member-to-member accident. With that in mind, the Board investigated purchasing its own insurance to specifically address member-to-member accidents and to provide coverage should someone be injured in a canoe or kayak or while operating an ATV.  I am pleased to announce that we have purchased such a policy that will protect you in the event of an injury to another member.  It also provides liability protection for watercraft and ATVs.  This policy will provide for legal defense and funds for settlements up to one-million dollars per occurrence, or two-million in aggregate. A few things to remember about this insurance:

  • It protects members if they injure another member while at a NAVHDA event. This includes all Chapter sponsored training, testing or other events.  It does not protect you should you injure another member outside of a NAVHDA event.  (For example: If you go hunting with a few NAVHDA buddies, not covered. Or if you and another NAVHDA member do training and it’s not an organized MN NAVHDA event, it’s not covered.)
  • This does not replace the NAVHDA International insurance. To remain a Chapter, we have to continue to participate in their insurance and, we must continue to follow the waiver rules and other requirements that came with their new insurance.
  • Like with NAVHDA International’s policy, it does not cover automobiles as that is part of your automobile policy.
  • ATVs and boats are covered while in use at a NAVHDA event, but damage or liability while transporting them to or from the grounds is excluded. Again, this is because those events are covered by your auto insurance.

This insurance went into effect on May 14th and the first year’s premium is being paid by the Chapter.  Next year, Chapter dues will increase by $10 per person to cover the cost of the policy in 2019 and each year thereafter.

While accidents are rare and our Chapter’s record on this is extraordinary, I’m sure you’ll agree that the $10 cost each year to you as member is a tremendous value, given the amount of money required to pay for attorneys and any subsequent settlements.  Thanks to all of you for your time and patience as we make these needed changes.

Best regards,

To All Chapter Members,

Many of you have heard bits and pieces of information relating to new safety rules and restrictions on who may participate in NAVHDA tests and other events.  I will try to keep this brief, but I wanted you to understand what these changes mean for us as a Chapter, why these changes were made, and what we as a Chapter have done in response.

In January, NAVHDA International changed insurance companies and shortly after announced that both the handler and owner of a dog in a test must be members of NAVHDA Int’l.  We quickly revised test paperwork, and our test secretaries and Board went about communicating this change. Shortly after, NAVHDA International notified us that anyone participating in ANY NAVHDA event in ANY capacity must also be a member.  This would apply to a non-member who wanted to walk along in a test, volunteer to plant birds, join us for a training event or really do anything that required being in, or near the area where guns and dogs were at work. Non-members can participate (except handling in tests) if they are willing to sign the liability waiver. This rule affects family members without a spouse or child NAVHDA International membership, a member who happened to let their membership lapse, or someone visiting to learn more about our club.  In all cases, even with a signed waiver, a non-member must never be permitted to discharge a firearm.  It is also clear that the Chapter is expected to implement and manage this policy without exception.

Our Chapter is one of the largest, if not the largest Chapter in NAVHDA.  For those of you who have participated in some of our training and testing events, you have witnessed the sheer number of people coming and going. People often enter the grounds at different locations and may be spread out over three or more locations on the grounds.  To identify active members in good standing from visitors, family and lapsed members, and keep track of them on the grounds we needed a process to identify membership status, get waivers signed when needed and ensure that only those permitted to participate are then allowed to do so. 

Due to the participation levels expected at our Chapter events, the insurance change required the Chapter to develop a detailed, structured set of Safety Rules which must be managed diligently. To many members, these rules and procedures may seem cumbersome or “over the top” but, it’s the only way we can ensure that we are in compliance.  Absent this control, our volunteers, the Board, the Chapter, and NAVHDA International would be exposed to liability without insurance protection if a nonmember were injured in any way. 

We also explored the coverages provided by NAVHDA’s new insurance.  There is a major gap in the policy should a member injure another member.  As written, everyone has coverage should a non-member be injured, but NOT if a member injures another member. The basic liability insurance selected by NAVHDA excludes claims of members against other members, since both are policy holders and the policy states that you cannot sue your own policy.  While the injured could still file a lawsuit, the insurance company would have no responsibility to provide for your defense or pay for any settlement.  To remedy this, the Chapter is reviewing additional insurance at the Chapter level where member-to-member coverage is provided.  You would then be protected in the event you injured another member and, since the policy covers the same things covered in NAVHDA’s, we will have double the coverage limits for those common items.  It is expected that this coverage will cost $10 or less per member per year.

As we move forward, you will hear more about this subject and experience firsthand the procedures we’ve had to implement.  As a Board, we’ve spent many hours reacting to this change.  We’ve tried to keep everything as straightforward as possible and we’ll continue to look for ways to simplify it as we move forward.  I am requesting you remain patient with these changes and understand that the insurance change was the driving force and not something the Board decided to do on its own.

Thank you for your patience, understanding and above all else, thank you for helping to make this the best NAVHDA Chapter there is.

Best regards,

 

Rolf Rogers

President, Minnesota NAVHDA

We received this notification from NAVHDA International, and are sorting through the best way to implement this policy while at the same time, making it as seamless as possible so as not to interfere with you involving family and friends who are not members of NAVHDA International in our Chapter events. Remember, your family members are automatically members of our Chapter with your enrollment however, they are not considered members of NAVHDA International unless they have an individual membership with them.

We’ll keep you updated as this develops.  Thank you for your cooperation.

Click here for NAVHDA International Facebook info thread on this topic

From NAVHDA International, 03/04/2018

ALL Non-Members Participating in NAVHDA Events are Required to Sign a Release and Express Assumption of Risk Agreement (available under the Forms Express link at www.navhda.org/forms-express)

This year, for the first time in many years, our organization’s liability insurance coverage has been placed with a different insurance company, Philadelphia Insurance Company. As part of our insurance contract with Philadelphia, we are now required to secure a signed release and express assumption of risk agreement (the “release agreement”) from anyone who will be participating at one of our events that is not a member of the NAVHDA parent organization, also known as NAVHDA International.

The following Q&A provides information on how we will utilize this release agreement in our organization.

Why do we need this release agreement and what is its purpose?
It is now a requirement of our insurance coverage to comply with this so as to not to jeopardize our coverage.

Who has to sign the release agreement?
This release agreement must be signed by anyone who is not a member of NAVHDA International as defined below, and who intends to participate in ANY NAVHDA-sanctioned event, including but not limited to all tests, handler clinics, and training days. In addition, if the participant is a minor, the release agreement must be signed by a parent or other legal guardian.

Who is a member and who is a non-member?
An individual is considered a NAVHDA member if they have a NAVHDA member number and if their dues are paid in full for the year in which the event in question is occurring. This would include “life members” since they have a member number and their dues are paid in perpetuity. Some Chapters allow spouses and/or family members to be considered Chapter members without joining NAVHDA International; these individuals are considered non-members of NAVHDA International and must therefore sign the release agreement prior to actively participating in any NAVHDA International or Chapter events. A nonmember is defined as anyone who wishes to participate at a NAVHDA event, but who is not a member of NAVHDA International, and/or individuals who are former NAVHDA International members but whose dues are not paid in full, and/or is someone who intends to join NAVHDA International but does not yet have a member number or dues paid in full.

Under what circumstances is the release agreement required?
A release agreement is required when a non-member wishes to actively participate in a NAVHDA event. Practically speaking, this means anytime a non-member intends to:
• handle a dog in one of our hunt tests or training sessions
• follow a handler out in the field during a hunt test or training session
• volunteer to help at any NAVHDA sactioned event
As a side note, a non-member can never be allowed to handle a firearm at any of our events.  (Also, as of July 1st, 2018, Non-Members will no longer be allowed to handle dogs in any tests)

When is a release agreement NOT required?
A signed release agreement is not required for any non-member who is merely there to watch an event from a distance or stops by to have lunch, etc., but does not otherwise actively participate in any event or activities.

Is the release agreement signed yearly, or for each event?
A release agreement should be obtained each time a non-member wishes to participate in any NAVHDA sactioned event. It is the only way to ensure that we have a release agreement for that particular activity.

How do we access the release agreement?
The release agreement form is available on the NAVHDA webpage under Forms Express.

Who secures and retains the release agreement and for how long does it need to be retained?
The release agreement should be secured and retained by NAVHDA International for International events and by the local Chapter for Chapter events. The release agreement should be maintained for a minimum of one year after the expiration of the longest applicable statute of limitation for tort actions in the relevant jurisdiction. Any release agreement pertaining to a minor should be maintained for the period of the applicable statute of limitations after the minor reaches the age of majority.

Who is responsible for ensuring release agreements are signed prior to an event?
The hosting Chapter’s secretary or his/her designee is responsible for securing the signed release agreement from the appropriate people before and during a NAVHDA event. During their opening remarks, the Senior Judge is encouraged to inform all non-members that they must complete the release agreement if they have not already done so.

Who can “witness” the signature of the release agreement?
Any member of NAVHDA International that is at least 21 years old and who has read and understands the release agreement may witness the signature for a non-member.