Industry Partnership Boosts Non-Profit Coverage

Food banks, sporting associations and other non-profit groups in New Brunswick will have an easier time finding affordable insurance through a new partnership between insurance groups and the province’s Community Non-Profit Organizations Secretariat.

The collaboration between the secretariat, the insurance brokers’ association and the Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) addresses the financial and resource challenges non-profits face when they look for coverage for their group or events. Many don’t have the budgets for high premiums or the people needed to search out the best insurance packages, says Nicole Smith, the secretariat’s executive director. “Some have been turned down for coverage, or can’t afford a $2,000 quote for a one night event,” she says. No data is available on the exact number of non-profit groups struggling with insurance issues.

New Brunswick’s minister responsible for community non-profit organizations, Brian Kenny, launched the partnership April 1. It follows a 2005 Atlantic Task Force on Insurance Availability report that revealed insurance access challenges for non-profits in the province. A 2007 progress report showed progress on education and communication between stakeholders, but noted that government solutions needed review and that the industry needed longer-term solutions, since, “the voluntary sector presents unique challenges that do not always lend themselves to traditional ‘for-profit’ responses.” It called for continued insurance industry leadership, consumer-friendly information and help with specialty market placement.

All the groups involved will stress education, offering resources and tools for the non-profit sector to help members understand liability and risk management, the most suitable coverage and broader issues like the insurance cycle and market changes says Smith. “A $2,000 quote from a year ago may be cheaper today,” she says.

The New Brunswick Insurance Brokers recently set up an online directory that guides non-profit organizations to the companies specializing in their sector. The association’s president, Steven White, was unavailable for comment at press time, but noted in a statement that the partnership would “do the shopping so volunteers can get back to their work of helping others.” Other non-profit groups, says Smith, have banded together to access coverage, with some groups—like the province’s francophone municipalities–taking it upon themselves to negotiate policies for all its members.

“There are still more issues out there,” Smith says, noting that one of the partnership’s challenges is that every group’s needs—and their risks– are so different, since non-profits run the gamut from three-person volunteer groups to large organizations with million-dollar budgets. “It’s difficult to meet everybody’s expectations.”

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