While how they are structured may be different, Emergency service organizations have a lot of the same risks as any other business. This applies to Fire districts, ambulance services, rescue squad or any other organization in this industry because the business they are in involves handling emergency situations, which can inherently be high risk. Because of that making sure the insurance is nailed down is that much more important for these organizations. Their constituents rely on them when they are needed, and in certain situations Insurance is what would make them whole again and able to perform their job the way they need to.
There are few kinds of insurance that are typical to these organizations:
Property insurance: buildings and the items inside of the buildings is what would fall under property coverage. This would include any Stations, offices, garages, or any structure they utilized in their operations. This would also include the contents which would include any unattached belongings in the building that stay on premise (basically if you tip the building upside down, whatever falls out would be business personal property). * That doesn’t include apparatus and equipment on apparatus, we talk about that later.
Liability insurance: This is undoubtedly one of the most important sections of coverage to discuss. There are multiple kinds of liability to discuss, but in general these coverages are used to protect against different kinds of suits that may be brought against you.
- General Liability: Bodily injury or Property damages that you may be found responsible for. This could be slip and fall accidents at your station, or it could be something that happened while operating in the field.
- Errors and Omissions: as an emergency service organization you are expected to hold a level of professionalism and knowledge in your field. Because of that there is a general expectation of the level of your services, and if your actions do not meet that expectation, there is risk of suites coming from that. This coverage protects against incidents that may come from your normal firefighting and emergency service operations. Examples of claims could be: Arriving too late to an emergency scene, Failing to respond with adequate equipment, failing to save a victim, ect.
- Directors & Officers: These claims can take many forms, but your board of directors, or commissioners make decisions regarding use of funds, general operations, ect. and this coverage considers suits that may come from those decisions.
- Automobile Coverage: This is another key coverage. Automobile coverage is a somewhat encompassing term, as includes your “apparatus” which are not only important to your operations, but also one of your largest exposures. This can include coverage for physical damage to your apparatus, but also includes the liability coverages needed while operating it. Typical coverage types are: Automobile Liability, Uninsured Motorist, Personal Injury Protection, Medical Payments, Physical Damage, Rental Costs, Roadside assistance.
- Portable Equipment: Portable equipment applies to the items you are typically using away from your premise or “On Scene”. Think about turnout gear, SCBA’s, Hoses, EMS Kits, Hand tools, Ropes, and whatever other items you can think of that are used on scene.
Umbrella Liability: This is another big one as it is considering liability. While it is viewed as secondary to your other liabilities, and more of an optional coverage it is a strongly suggested coverage to consider. How it works is that it extends an additional level of liability over all the liability coverages we mentioned above. The purpose is to protect your organization if a claim goes catastrophic and the underlying policy limits are not enough. Hence the name “umbrella” because it extends over the rest of your policy for additional liability limits.
We can get into the weeds involving other coverages that may be needed for different situations, but looking at a high level, these are some of the common coverage considerations an Emergency Service Organization needs to be considering. Setting up you insurance program correctly will not only protect your organization from suits brought against it, but also get you back up and operational quicker so you can get back to worrying about other people’s problems not just your 😉.