Tackling Waivers and Insurance Post COVID-19: A Return to Play Guide for Protecting Your Players and Your Organization
As we return to play after months of sheltering at home, athletes and their families will need to adjust to a new normal. This is why we hosted NextUp: Return to Play—a three-day virtual conference featuring medical experts, professional athletes and commissioners, sports technology entrepreneurs, and elite youth sports organizers.
Sessions covered new ideas for revenue generation, evolving health and safety guidelines, why virtual and digital programming may be here to stay, and more. We also shared tips for organizers who are looking to update their participant waivers and insurance policies in response to COVID-19. For more on this, keep reading below, and for a full rundown of Day 1 and Day 2, simply click the links for our blog coverage. If you’d like to watch any of the sessions, click here for the recordings.
As we’ve witnessed in the world of college sports over the past two weeks, returning to play is just a single step in a journey fraught with challenges and setbacks. As players and coaches have tested positive for COVID-19, the conversation has quickly changed from ‘when can we come back?’ to ‘what do we do now?’ That’s why understanding what constitutes a thorough and comprehensive safety plan, from both an operational and legal standpoint, is more important than ever.
Moderated by LeagueApps’ Joanna Walsh, the conversation featured a group of experts including Lee Geiling (Loss Control Manager at K&K Insurance Group) and Tyrre Burks (Founder & CEO of Player’s Health).
Here’s what you need to know.
Tip 1: Document everything and make sure your parents, players, and coaches understand the plan.
The potential for coaches, players and parents to contract COVID-19 is a very real threat. Beyond updating their waivers, organizations need to be taking reasonable measures to protect everyone under their care. From sterilizing equipment and facilities to creating clear and concise safety protocols, it’s incumbent on youth organizers to do their part to protect members of their community. As Lee Geiling pointed out during the discussion, documenting your safety protocols is important for a few reasons. The first is that if you create detailed reports (all the way down to the brand of disinfectant you use) you’re building credibility with your parents. The second reason is that if someone were to test positive for COVID-19, you could point to (in painstaking detail) the level of care and thought you put into creating a safe environment.
For examples of waivers that organizers across the country are using as they return to play, join our NextUp Industry Group on Slack.
Tip 2: Become fluent in your organization’s insurance policy.
Documentation of all safety protocols led into an important point that Geiling made during our discussion: Read your insurance policy. Once you’re combing through your policy, identify if you have coverage in place if a claim is made for a pathogen. Understanding the legalese associated with insurance contracts can be difficult, so he advises that if you have any questions reach out directly to your insurance broker. As Tyrre Burks pointed out, the fine print can be the difference (for better or worse) so make sure to double check your coverage, particularly as it relates to renewals. It’s possible that items that were once covered are now excluded from your insurance.
Tip 3: Know what’s happening in your community and beyond.
Safety also extends outside your walls, so it’s a good policy to stay informed on cases in your immediate area and county. The number of cases and hospitalizations can inform your organization’s safety spend. Additionally, with the focus on protecting players and parents, it’s vital to keep a close eye on your staff. Setting protocols that include temperature screenings, testing and timetables for return after a positive test, will benefit your organization and your customers greatly.
At the end of the day, youth organizations are facing the same challenges that professional and collegiate teams are currently battling from a safety and liability standpoint. Nothing is fool-proof, but organizations that follow these three rules have the best chance of mitigating any potential downside as players return.