By Darryl Alder
Aug 18, 2014

A Few Answers to BSA Insurance Coverage Questions

I’ve just returned from a week at Philmont, where I received BSA Risk Management Training. The mantra of Enterprise Risk Management is not to say “no” but to help Scouters “know.” Below are brief outlines of insurance coverages you should know are available to volunteers and chartered organizations.

Comprehensive General Liability Insurance

need-boat-insurance1This coverage provides primary general liability coverage for registered volunteer Scouters with respect to claims arising out of an official Scouting activity with the exception that the coverage is excess over any insurance that may be available to the volunteer for loss arising from the ownership, maintenance, or use of a motor vehicle or watercraft. This insurance is available only while the vehicle or watercraft is in the actual use of a Scouting unit and being used for a Scouting purpose. Coverage is more than $5 million for bodily injury and property damage.

The insurance provided to unregistered Scouting volunteers through the general liability insurance program is excess over any other insurance the volunteer might have to his or her benefit, usually a homeowners, personal liability, or auto liability policy.

The general liability policy does not provide indemnification or defense coverage to those individuals who commit intentional and/or criminal acts. The Boy Scouts of America does not have an insurance policy which provides defense for situations involving allegations of intentional and/or criminal acts.

Automobile Liability Insurance

car-insurance-claim-form-300x199All vehicles must be covered by a liability insurance policy. The amount of this coverage must meet or exceed the insurance requirement of the state in which the vehicle is licensed. (It is recommended, however, that coverage limits are at least $100,000 combined single limit.) Any vehicle carrying 10 or more passengers is required to have limits of $500,000 single limit. In the case of rented vehicles, coverage limit requirements can be met by combining the limits of personal coverage carried by the driver with insurance coverage purchased from the rental company.

All vehicles used in travel outside the United States must carry a liability insurance policy that complies with or exceeds the requirements of that country.

The LDS Handbook 2 13.6.9 states: “Where possible, those who oversee activities should protect themselves by carrying reasonable amounts of liability insurance. Such insurance may be available through homeowners insurance or other policies.”

Chartered Organizations for Scouting Units

churchThe general liability policy provides primary liability insurance coverage for all chartered organizations on file with the BSA for liability arising out of their chartering a traditional Scouting unit. Automobile and maritime liability coverage is provided on a secondary or excess basis. All vehicles used in Scouting activities must be covered by automobile liability insurance with limits that meet or exceed the requirements of the state in which the vehicle is licensed. All boats/vessels used in Scouting must be insured by the owner for liability exposures. The amount of coverage is determined by the size and usage of the boat. $1 million is recommended.

Chartered organizations do not need a certificate of insurance. The chartered organization endorsement is a part of the insurance policy contract and is enforceable under the policy contract.

Accident and Sickness Coverage
Indian Boy/Teenager coughing sneezing

This insurance is optional within the Council, since most of our units are covered under Deseret Mutual Benefits Association (DMBA). According to the Church Activity Insurance Handbook,Accidents that occur during Scouting activities sponsored by the Primary or Young Men organizations and that require medical, dental, or other related services are paid regardless of fault (unless otherwise excluded). Because of this, wards or branches aren’t expected to purchase the optional BSA Council Accident and Sickness Insurance Plan. To get a verification form as proof of available CAMA benefits, please contact Deseret Mutual (see the contact information on page 4 of the linked handbook listed above)”

The LDS Handbook 2 13.6.9 states: “In many parts of the world, health and accident insurance coverage is available to Church members through employer-sponsored, personal, or government programs. Where such coverage is available, members are responsible to access all available benefits provided through it if they incur an injury during a Church activity.

“…the Church Activity Insurance Program provides secondary medical and dental benefits and specific death and dismemberment benefits. This program is primarily designed to supplement, not replace, a person’s own health and accident insurance.

“Members who plan, conduct, and supervise activities … should be knowledgeable about the Church Activity Insurance Program, including its restrictions and limitations. The program is outlined in the Church Activity Insurance Handbook, which may be obtained …{at this} Web site:

Units at camp that are not LDS are covered by Health Special RIsk, Inc (HSR) insurance coverage, however it is secondary after the Scout or Scouter’s family medical insurance.

Accident and sickness insurance (also known as accident and health insurance) coverage for Scouts and Scouters furnishes medical reimbursement in case of death, accident, or sickness within the policy amounts. Information regarding unit accident coverage is available through the local council.

Who is covered with DMBA?
Church Activity Medical Assistance (CAMA) … provides limited medical, dental, and certain death and dismemberment payments for individuals who have an accident or a qualified sickness as a result of being involved (either as participants or spectators) in a church activity of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (source: DMBA Website)

Who is covered with HSR?
•  All registered youth and seasonal staff are eligible.
•  Registered leaders and volunteer leaders.

Unauthorized and Restricted Activities

boxingThe Boy Scouts of America general liability policy provides coverage for a bodily injury or property damage claim that is made and arises out of an Official Scouting Activity. The Guide to Safe Scouting contains a listing of Unauthorized and Restricted Activities. Unauthorized activities are not considered Official Scouting Activities. Volunteers (registered and unregistered), Units, Chartered Organizations and Local Councils are jeopardizing insurance coverage for themselves and their organization by engaging in unauthorized activities. Please do not put yourself at risk.

Tour and Activity Plan

Safety comes with good planning; it put the “know” back into your trip.The Tour and Activity Plan helps Unit Leaders to effectively evaluate their preparedness for upcoming activities. It is designed to reinforce the leadership requirements of basic safety in Scouting—specifically two-deep leadership, transportation, aquatics, rappelling, and youth protection. Times when a tour and activity plan must be submitted for council review include:

  • Trips of 500 miles or more
  • Trips outside of council borders not to a council-owned property
  • Trips to any national high-adventure base, national Scout jamboree, National Order of the Arrow Conference, or regionally sponsored event
  • When conducting the following activities outside of council or district events:
  • Aquatics activities (swimming, boating, floating, scuba, etc.)
  • Climbing and rappelling
  • Orientation flights (process flying permit)
  • Shooting sports
  • Any activities involving motorized vehicles as part of the program (snowmobiles, boating, etc.)
  • At a council’s request

The Tour and Activity Plan may be filled out and submitted electronically at and here’s to your safe Scouting through peace of mind by better planning and adequate insurance.

Author: Darryl Alder | Strategic Initiatives Director, Utah National Parks Council, BSA

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5 thoughts on “A Few Answers to BSA Insurance Coverage Questions

  1. Karen Adms

    This is a great article. Something that every Scouter needs to know, so the Council doesn’t say no. I love that statement. I hope the leaders and boys will have a lot of fun and safe experiences.

  2. Owen Wright

    Could you give a brief rundown on the insurance rules to be followed when taking the Boys on Shooting activities with air rifles and other fire arms.

    I am with the Pleasant Grove Sportsmen Assn. We have an indoor shooting range where Scouts are welcome to shoot. We want to know that leaders are knowledgeable and compliant with BSA rules.

  3. Luke McCollum

    Does the liability insurance cover all participants in scouting activities, or only registered members of the troop/team/crew etc.? I would think that the overarching liability coverage is for the organization, not the individual members, so that friends and other participants that attend an event would be covered whether or not they were a registered member of the troop.


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