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Commercial Lines Preventing Sexual MisconductHopefully, your organization will never have to face the financial and emotional devastation of sexual misconduct. But instead of relying upon hope and trust, there are a number of proactive measures and programs that every organization can implement to help prevent sexual misconduct from occurring and minimize the risks associated with an incident.

Sexual Misconduct Statistics
While statistical information regarding child sexual abuse varies substantially, here are a number of dramatic findings from government and other authorities:

  • Approximately 770,000 incidents of child abuse are reported per year, with 10 percent of those being sexual abuse.
  • It is believed that less than 10 percent of sexual abuse cases are ever reported to authorities, so the actual incidence of sexual abuse each year is much greater than reported.
  •  The most common abusers of children are acquaintances of their victims.
  • Sexual abuse occurs among all groups of society, in rural and metro areas, and regardless of race, education, or socioeconomic status.
  • Child advocates commonly claim that one in four girls and one in seven boys are sexually molested before their 18th birthday.

 

Sexual Misconduct Prevention Procedures
Every organization that works with the public should have an official policy in place to help prevent sexual misconduct before it occurs. The following preventive measures are general guidelines only.

  • Screen employees and volunteers.
  • Establish organizational policies and procedures.
  • Educate staff, children, and parents.
  • Develop the best program for your organization.

 

1. Carefully Screen Employees and Volunteers
The first step in preventing sexual misconduct is to thoroughly screen the backgrounds of employees and volunteers. Legitimate workers will not be offended, and the process often scares off unwanted individuals. To screen staff members, organizations can take the following actions:

  • Complete a criminal record background check. All employees and volunteers should sign an authorization form allowing criminal background checks to be completed.
  • Require individuals to complete a screening application. The screening application asks about previous employment, experience with children, references, criminal record information, and other pertinent details.
  • Diligently verify all information provided. Reference checks should include contacting, at a minimum, two institutional type references in which the applicant has worked or volunteered with minors in the past (for example, scouts and other churches).
  • Resolve any irregularities before a candidate begins work.

 

2. Establish Organizational Policies and Procedures
As a second line of defense, organizations should establish written policies and procedures for its employees and volunteers. Once policies and procedures are established, they must be communicated effectively to the staff, and the rules have to be consistently enforced. Here are several examples:

  • Include a procedure in which you ask if the employee or volunteer has ever been accused of, participated in, or been convicted of sexual misconduct.
  •  Have documented procedures in place on how to respond to a sexual misconduct allegation.
  • Require six months of service before a volunteer has direct involvement with or supervises children.
  • Include the proper ratio of adults to children. Require a minimum of two, non-related adults to be present with children at all times.
  • Hold all activities for children in central, highly visible locations.
  • Do not allow activities to take place in private rooms, offices or isolated parts of a building. Keep all remote areas, such as closets and unoccupied rooms, locked.
  • Have a responsible supervisor randomly monitor all children’s activities. Supervisors should make frequent, unannounced visits.
  • Establish an action plan for suspicious behavior and to report complaints.
  • Establish counseling guidelines for ministers and staff members.
  • Have windows installed on doors where activities and meetings take place, or leave doors open if there are no windows present.

 

3. Educate Staff, Children, and Parents
An educational program offers your organization a third important line of defense against sexual misconduct. Education can be targeted toward employees, volunteers, parents and children to help everyone identify and avoid potentially dangerous situations. Effective education can include courses such as the following:

  • Training courses for all staff members — All employees and volunteers should complete an initial training course on how to properly work with children and adolescents. This course should be repeated periodically.
    • Document records of attendance.
    • Have a written disciplinary policy.
    • Research and train on your state procedures about reporting sexual abuse claims.
  • Safety courses for children and parents — Children can be taught to understand the difference between good touching and bad touching. And parents can learn about the organization’s policies to prevent sexual misconduct.

 

4. Develop the Best Prevention Program for Your Organization
Through effective employee and volunteering screening, internal policies and procedures, and education, your staff can develop or further enhance its sexual misconduct risk management program to address the organization’s specific needs. As a result, the entire organization and everyone it serves will be even safer from the nightmare of sexual misconduct. For additional details about sexual misconduct prevention:

  • Consult with an attorney.
  • Become familiar with state laws.
  • Contact one of the many public agencies dedicated to stopping sexual abuse.
  • If needed, add additional liability insurance coverage to your organizations’ current policy. This can help protect an organization from legal liability, including defense costs, arising from sexual misconduct by staff members or volunteers.

 

To view our complete risk management library of articles for churches and non-profits, click here.

John Keller, CRM ARM CIC AAI is Client Advisor & Risk Manager at Gulfshore Insurance specializing in non-profit and religious organizations. John works with a wide range of business clients to deliver strategic risk analysis and guidance. Comments and questions are welcome at jkeller@gulfshoreinsurance.com

This content was originally published by Guide One Insurance.

Commercial Lines Responding to an Allegation of Child Sexual Abuse 1An allegation of child sexual abuse is one of the most difficult situations that a youth serving organization such as a church can experience. Such an incident can have a damaging, lasting impact on the victim and his/her family, upon the organization, upon its members, and upon its impact or ministry to the community. Responding appropriately and in a timely manner is important in addressing the concerns of the individual and the organization, and limiting the lasting damage that can occur.

Should a misconduct claim or allegation take place, consider the following steps in responding to the situation:

  1. The parent or guardian of the child will be notified.
  2. The worker or church member alleged to be the perpetrator of the abuse or misconduct will immediately be placed on leave pending an investigation and instructed to remain away from the premises during the investigation. He or she should be instructed to have no contact with the victim or with witnesses.
  3. All allegations of abuse should be reported to the civil authorities, and the organization will comply with the state’s requirements regarding mandatory reporting of abuse as the law then exists. The organization will fully cooperate with the investigation of the incident by civil authorities.
  4. Knowledge of your state’s mandatory reporting law is vitally important. State law dictates who is a mandatory reporter, what to report, and when a report should be made, among other things. Formal training of mandatory reporters is required in some states. Failure to follow the state’s mandatory reporting law can result in criminal charges.
  5. The insurance company will be notified, and the organization will complete an incident report. Any documents received relating to the incident and/or allegations will immediately be forwarded to the insurance company.
  6. The organization will designate a spokesperson to the media concerning incidents of abuse or neglect. The advice of legal counsel will be sought before responding to media inquiries or releasing information about the situation to the congregation. All other representatives of the organization should refrain from speaking to the media.
  7. Any person who is not found innocent of the alleged abuse or misconduct will be removed from their position working with children or youth.
  8. If the organization learns that the individual has become involved in another youth-serving organization and that other children may be at risk, it should discuss with its legal counsel communication of this information to the other organization.

Once your organization has established a procedure for handling allegations of abuse, make sure to follow the procedure in every instance. Having a policy or procedure but not following it may be worse than having no policy at all. By planning ahead and having the above information readily available, you may be better positioned to respond in the event of that an allegation of child sexual abuse involving your organization comes to light.

To view our complete risk management library of articles for churches and non-profits, click here.

John Keller, CRM ARM CIC AAI is Client Advisor & Risk Manager at Gulfshore Insurance specializing in non-profit and religious organizations. John works with a wide range of business clients to deliver strategic risk analysis and guidance. Comments and questions are welcome at jkeller@gulfshoreinsurance.com

This content was originally published by Guide One Insurance.

Commercial Lines Youth Safety and Your CongregationThe death or injury of a member or guest, particularly when the loss involves a child, is a tragedy for the entire congregation. It also carries the potential for serious legal and financial consequences. In most instances, religious organizations no longer are protected by “charitable immunity,” a practice based on the legal premise that because its assets are comparable to a trust fund, they could not be used for purposes other than those intended by donors. Today, the courts assign the same legal responsibility — and liability — to religious organizations as they do any business. It is your obligation to protect your ministry from the potentially disastrous financial consequences — including awards for damages and legal fees — of a lawsuit. You can do this by transferring much of the financial risk to an insurance company. However, prevention should be your most important goal.

The following are examples of tragedies —and their financial repercussions — that have struck during youth group outings of congregations across the United States.

  • The drowning of a 7-year-old girl went undetected for several hours because the religious organization had failed to establish a buddy system or maintain guidelines and boundaries appropriate to swimmers’ ability levels. Amount of claim: $825,000
  • A 17-year-old girl suffered brain injury and blindness when she landed beyond a homemade mat while high jumping. Amount of claim: $1.2 million
  • A boy, age 9, was killed during a hayride when he fell from a wagon without side rails —
    landing under the wheels of a trailing wagon. Amount of claim: $650,200
  • Because proper tackling techniques had not been taught, a 17-year-old was paralyzed when he made an unsafe tackle during a football game. Amount of claim: $400,000
  • A boy was left quadriplegic at age 15 from injuries suffered while somersaulting from an underwater ledge. Amount of claim: $725,000
  • On their way to an amusement park, five youths and a driver were killed when their van crashed into the rear of a slow-moving semi-trailer. The driver had only two hours sleep the night before the trip. Amount of claim: $500,000
  • A boy, age 16, sustained a fractured tailbone and deep lacerations when he dove under a moving ski boat. Overloading caused the prop of the boat to sink low in the water, which pushed the bow so high that the driver’s vision was obstructed. Amount of claim: $303,000
  • A 15-year-old baseball catcher sustained brain injury from a collision with a player sliding into home plate. Rules for safe sliding had not been taught. Amount of claim: $75,000

 

Click here to download the remainder of the safety guide, courtesy of Church Mutual.

To view our complete risk management library of articles for churches and non-profits, click here.

John Keller, CRM ARM CIC AAI is Client Advisor & Risk Manager at Gulfshore Insurance specializing in non-profit and religious organizations. John works with a wide range of business clients to deliver strategic risk analysis and guidance. Comments and questions are welcome at jkeller@gulfshoreinsurance.com

Commercial Lines Safety at Your PlaygroundThere are few things more enjoyable than seeing a group of children having the time of their lives at a playground. Unfortunately, many of these scenes end with a child being injured — oftentimes seriously — because safety hazards were not dealt with or supervision was lacking.

Playground equipment has improved greatly over the years, but the number of children injured while playing continues to climb. The number of injuries occurring at playgrounds
in the United States is staggering. More than 200,000 playground-related injuries requiring emergency room visits occur each year, which means a serious injury happens at a playground every 2.5 minutes. At schools across the country, accidents at the playground are the leading cause of injuries to students age 5 to 12.

The challenges found at a playground are a great asset for the physical, emotional, social and intellectual development of the children who use them. And for many, it is their first social experience. The benefits of a playground certainly should not be eliminated, but steps need to be taken to reduce the risk of injury. Most safety improvements only require a simple maintenance plan and your commitment to carry them out.

Click here to download the full playground safety guide, courtesy of Church Mutual

To view our complete risk management library of articles for churches and non-profits, click here.

John Keller, CRM ARM CIC AAI is Client Advisor & Risk Manager at Gulfshore Insurance specializing in non-profit and religious organizations. John works with a wide range of business clients to deliver strategic risk analysis and guidance. Comments and questions are welcome at jkeller@gulfshoreinsurance.com

Personal Lines Uninsured Motorist Coverage Why You Should Have It Gulfshore Insurance Naples FloridaAccording to the Insurance Information Institute, Florida has the MOST DRIVERS in the country on the road without auto insurance, at a whopping 26%. That means that if you are injured in an auto accident in Florida, you have more than a 1 in 4 chance of being hit by a driver who has no insurance to cover your injuries. In addition, 51% of Florida auto insurance policies have limits of $25,000 per person or lower. If you are hurt or injured in a car accident by one of these uninsured (no insurance) or under-insured drivers (not enough insurance), you may have to pay for your own injuries out of pocket.

UM and UIM insurance is so important to have because it pays if you, your passengers, or family members are injured by another driver who is “at-fault” and does not have bodily liability insurance, has insufficient liability insurance to cover the total damages sustained by you, or no insurance at all. This applies whether you are riding in your car, someone else’s car or are struck by a car while a pedestrian. UM/UIM pays for medical expenses, lost wages and for bodily injury, sickness, disease or death resulting from a car accident, beyond your PIP auto coverage. In Florida, “UM” (uninsured motorist) or “UIM” (underinsured motorist) coverage is limited to what you have set as your BI (bodily injury liability) coverage. In other words, you can purchase UM/UIM only at the same limit that you also carry BI.

Why should I buy uninsured motorist coverage if I have medical insurance?

Medical bills are only a portion of what you can claim on uninsured motorist coverage. UM also pays for things that may not be covered or limited by medical insurance, such as:

  • loss of the future enjoyment of life
  • lost wages and disability
  • long term nursing care
  • wheelchairs and medical devices
  • pain and suffering
  • death
  • replacement services for things you are no longer able to do

 

At Gulfshore Insurance we pride ourselves on serving as your trusted advisor. Please contact us with any questions.

Andrea Pelletier, CPRIA, CPIA is Client Advisor and Partner at Gulfshore Insurance specializing in Private Risk Services. Andrea works with successful individuals and their families on creating and customizing package insurance solutions in the areas of luxury homes, car collections, jewelry, fine arts, watercraft, and personal excess liability. Comments and questions are welcome at apelletier@gulfshoreinsurance.com

Gulfshore Insurance is a Naples, Florida based insurance agency specializing in home and homeowners insurance, car and auto insurance, boat and yacht insurance, property insurance, umbrella insurance, valuables insurance for fine art, jewelry, wine, and more. Navigating insurance requires an experienced and trusted insurance agent who understands your high net worth risks and exposures. Gulfshore Insurance services Naples, North Naples, Port Royal, Park Shore, Pelican Bay, The Moorings, Naples Beach, Marco Island, Bonita Springs, Sanibel Island, Captiva, Fort Myers, Sarasota, and Southwest Florida. We have office locations in Naples, Fort Myers, Fort Lauderdale, and Sarasota.