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Summer Camp Considerations for Higher Education Institutions

Many of our higher education clients allow 3rd parties to rent a portion of the college campus during the summer in order to run summer camps.  These camps can be related to music, arts, education, or sports.  Although these camps can be a good way for colleges & universities to generate revenue and introduce young people to the institution, they also carry liability exposures worthy of consideration.  This post seeks to discuss appropriate risk transfer and sound risk strategies to minimizing the operational and reputational risk to the college or university.


Tips to Transfer the Risk
  • Have a written agreement that stipulates the roles and responsibilities of the 3rd party and the college.  This should include a minimum of hold harmless agreements, insurance requirements, waiver of subrogation, and cost considerations.  This agreement should be reviewed by university counsel and your insurance broker.
  • Insurance requirements should be a minimum of $1M/$2M Commercial General Liability, $1M Sexual Abuse, $1M Professional / Errors & Omissions Coverage, Statutory Workers Compensation & $500K Employers Liability Limits, $1M Auto or Hired & Nonowned Auto, and $5M Umbrella/Excess.  
    • Note that it may be wise to have the agreement template list $20M+ of Umbrella/Excess coverage as the baseline requirement.  Although the organization might not have that much coverage if you only request $5M and they have $10M their insurance policies will only provide coverage to the school at $5M - it's best to start at the higher limit and negotiate from that point.
  • The college or university should be listed as Additional Insured on all the policies listed above.
  • Certificates of Insurance should be requested, but copies of the endorsements from the actual insurance companies are most important.  A certificate of insurance is only a piece of paper, it affords no rights of the policy unless the broker is authorized to do by way of blanket additional insured endorsements or approved by the carrier.  Note that it may take 30-60 days to get the actual paper copies of the endorsements from the insurance carriers.
  • Records should be kept long after the 3rd party is off your campus.  For example, a sexual abuse claim might have occurred in 2011 but the injured party only brings the allegation in 2016 - having accurate records in 2016 will help with the claim process.
  • If a suit actually does occur and the college or university is named in the suit remember to report the actual claim to the insurance carrier directly.  Being an Additional Insured means that you have some of the same rights as the first named insured on the policy and are required to give timely notice of suit.  Having the carrier contact you does not mean that they have started the claim - you need to formally do so.


Sound Strategies to Minimize Risk
In addition to effectively transferring the risk to the 3rd party, the college should take into consideration what type of organization they are allowing to use the campus.  Like it or not, if that organization is using your facility they are in some way affiliated with you.  This can be a positive or negative connotation depending upon that 3rd party organization.  Here are some factors to consider before allowing an outside organization to use your facilities:

  • What is their history, vision, and values?
  • Assuming they are a nonprofit, review their 990 tax form / financial data for free by using a site like GuideStar. 
  • What are their policies & procedures for Sexual Abuse & Molestation?  Do they conduct nationwide criminal background checks, FBI fingerprint checks, and reference checks?  Do they have guidelines for potential one-on-one conduct?  Do they have a written response program in the event that an abuse event or allegation occurs?
  • What safety measures do they have concerning hydration, accidents, head injuries, etc?
  • Are they planning on doing any high hazard activities?  If so, how are they going to make sure those activities are safe?
  • Do they have the parents/children sign any type of hold harmless release and code of conduct forms?
  • Would you trust your own child attend the camp?  Seems like a simple question but if you wouldn't feel comfortable allowing your own child to attend the camp is it really a good idea to align the college with that camp?

Hopefully these considerations are helpful to your college or university in the coming summer months.  If you have any further questions regarding this issue please contact us for further conversation.