Council considers crafting policy for requiring insurance during Boathouse events
Belfast — Belfast again tackled the issue of how it would address insurance requirements for events at the Boathouse Tuesday, Dec. 3.
The insurance carrier for the city recommends Belfast require insurance from all users of the Boathouse because the city is not in control of the events, nor is it managing the safe use of the property, City Manager Joseph Slocum explained in his report to councilors.
He also noted that the Boathouse has attracted a larger variety of public and private events.
On Tuesday, Slocum asked for direction and input from councilors on what types of events they felt would present less of a liability to the city in terms of personal injury or illness, and whether it would be OK to waive the insurance requirement for those events.
To assist with discussion, Slocum listed several events that he would recommend require insurance, and a handful of events that he felt wouldn't require insurance.
Events that would require insurance include: a private sale event open to the public as a marketplace; a private family gathering that would have food and alcoholic beverages; any event that serves food and alcohol; a for-profit training or educational event; a school sponsored event — schools already have insurance and the city could be easily named on the policy.
The events that would not require insurance include: a nonprofit entity holding a meeting; any event where food is produced off-site and the Boathouse kitchen appliances are not used; a nonprofit hosted training or educational seminar; and any event sponsored by the city where the city controls all decisions and collects all of the money.
Councilor Mike Hurley questioned whether the city could provide a rider to a group that wishes to host an event at the Boathouse, but cannot afford the insurance on their own. Slocum said the city could not offer such an option unless the city would be in full control of the event.
If the city did not require insurance from a group or individual hosting an event at the Boathouse and someone is injured, the injured party could file a claim against the host of the event and the city, Slocum explained. While the city's insurance carrier would defend Belfast against such a claim, Slocum said such a scenario could result in the city's insurance premiums being increased.
Hurley then asked how much a policy would cost a group, such as the woodcarvers group that used the Boathouse for several years to sell their carvings, with Slocum estimating a policy could cost between $500 and $600.
He then suggested the city could offer groups that can't afford to get their own insurance a self-insurance option where the group would pay a set fee to the city and the city would assume the risk. Councilor Roger Lee commented that the “math wouldn't work” with such a proposal because one claim could exceed any fees collected by the city.
Hurley commented that he could not recall from recent memory when the last time the city had a claim filed against it.
“It only takes one,” Mayor Walter Ash Jr. cautioned.
Lee suggested “grandfathering” groups that have used the Boathouse in the past for events without being required to provide insurance to continue to use the space without needing insurance. Slocum said he would continue to look into the issue and no further action was taken.
Ben Holbrook is a reporter for The Republican Journal covering general news.
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