There are still some residents’ associations out there who have not yet arranged Public Liability insurance. I know it is very hard to believe but, for whatever warped convoluted reasons, it is sadly true.
So let’s go back over the need for Public Liability insurance for the benefit of these groups.
The main reason that every voluntary group needs to have Public Liability insurance is to protect the committee and members from claims made against the organisation.
Why would the committee and members need such protection?
Because legally the committee and members would be personally liable for any damages awarded against the association for injury to the public or property damage caused by the “negligence” of the association.
What does “negligence” mean?
It is a complex legal concept but essentially it means that as a result of the failure to take reasonable care in the running of some activity people were injured or property was damaged. Whether or not there has been negligence often has to be left to a court to decide.
“What does your association do which could possibly cause a claim?”
Accidents occur in the most simple of circumstances. A person, perhaps child, is scalded by tea or injured by a stone from a lawnmower or strimmer or any number of unexpected causes.
Hopefully no claim will ever be made against your residents’ association but it could and does happen that claims are made against voluntary organisations. The prospect of your residents association having to deal with an uninsured claim is just too dreadful to contemplate. Whereas the association, which has Public Liability insurance, can just pass the matter to it’s insurance company to handle.
The issue is not what are the odds against a claim happening but rather what is the plan in case a claim is made against the association. Sometimes claims made against an association may be unjustified and would need to be fought. Legal costs could run into thousands. Who will foot the bill if there is no insurance? The committee and members of course. For example, some years ago the members of a committee in the northwest, which did not have insurance, were each forced to pay out around €2,500 to fund the legal defence of a claim which had been made against the organisation.
Remember also that the insurance of the hall or hotel where your association organise meetings / events will not cover claims arising out of the negligence of the association. The same goes for the bouncing castle hire company who claim, “they are fully insured”. Usually the residents’ association is responsible for the supervision of the bouncing castle while children are using it and the hire company insurance would not cover the liability of the association.
Should people be afraid to join residents association or other voluntary groups because of this?
Absolutely not but they need to satisfy themselves that the association has adequate Public Liability insurance and that it is renewed without fail and on time year in year out. I would strongly recommend that the constitution of every residents’ association contain a clause that the committee are obliged to made certain that the association has adequate Public Liability insurance in force at all times.
Having insurance under the ACRA Residents’ Associations’ Insurance Scheme does not cost a fortune but being a member of an uninsured association could.
Full details of the Insurance Scheme for Residents Associations affiliated to ACRA are available from