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.
President, Minnesota NAVHDA