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Why Insurance has become important

Posted by Atticus on Saturday, November 28, 2009 Under: Group Advice

What a boring subject to be put on a paranormal site! That is true but could also be the most important subject to read up on! It is quite often over-looked and in this day and age, can any serious reserach team afford not to have any? 

Lets kick things off.

"Do I need Public Liability Insurance?"

This is a question we have been asked frquently! There is an easy way to tell, if you accept any money, including expenses, for any work you undertake or have undertaken then you really should have Public Liability cover. As we often advise other groups, the only team that doesn’t need it is the team that can afford to lose their homes so unless your group fit into this small minority then you should consider this important insurance before you make your next investigation

Public Liability, or PL as it is known, covers your liability for any damage you may due to another person, or property, accidentally whilst undertaking work. This could be a simple accident such as someone falling over a tripod to being “bumped” with a dowsing rod through to more serious issues that could leave people scarred or disabled for life.

"How bad can it get if I don’t have any PL cover?"

The short answer is very bad. I believe there was a case not so long ago that demonstrated this, There are many claims that 'Ghost-hunters' are to blame for causing mental grief and instabilty to people after they have left the property. Ok so this example is quite hard to prove. but think about the implications of it. 
Worse still, what if you took some people along to an investigation as a one-off, perhaps it was a request of the guests as a birthday present for their partner. You're doing well, the evening is going well but then all of a sudden, one of the guests trips over a cable, stumbles and breaks his ankle. This results him being off work for a week or two. He decides to sue? uh-oh.

Another case study involves not just personal damage but property too.

A property owner successfully sued a paranormal website for $125,000 dollars in damages for claiming her property was haunted. She says reports that her mill is haunted are false, and that thrill seekers have damaged her property and its value because of the website.

Here is the news snippet:

"Staley Mill’s owner, who claimed false tales about the historic property being haunted turned her life into a nightmare, has received a judgment for more than $125,000 against a Columbus website operator.
Melissa Duer also was granted her request for a court order against Columbus-resident Andrew Henderson’s use of the Staley tale on the web site or any other site."

There was even a $1,921 claim made for an invisible fence!!

Read the full news report, and the break down of the property owner's pain, and financial suffering here:

Courts take a dim view of some accidents now, and with the growth of the “where there is blame there is a claim” culture, it is very important that you arrange suitable cover.

Whilst these things do happen, it should be pointed out that an incident like this is very rare, in reality you have probably better odds winning the lottery but they do happen and therefore it is important that you are covered when your numbers come up… I have been in this game for over ten years and have yet to cause damage or be blamed for any breakages and this is the way it'll stay...... I hope!

"Surely, I can get away without it?"

Still not convinced? The other thing PL covers is 3rd party property damage. This would cover you if you damaged someone else’s property whilst conducting some investigative work. For example, you could lean against a wall and knock part of it over with your weight as you are taking a picture! The fact that the wall was not “secure” enough is no protection in law. You would be responsible for the repair to it – after all, the property owner would argue that the wall was fine before you leaned on it! A simple accident like this could cost in the region of a £1,000 – something you wouldn’t want to have to find as a investigator! Or, a more common claim, would be knocking over something in a client’s house whilst you were there on a research study. Unlike other parts of PL cover, there is traditionally a £250 excess for 3rd party property damage, so it is worth remembering to try and be as careful as you can when your dealing with others!

"Can’t I buy PL insurance anywhere?"

Well yes, but not if you want to be properly covered! As with many other organizations out there, the main problem we had when phoning around for public liability insurance was that most insurance companies didn’t recognise paranormal investigation groups and it was therefore very difficult to make the insurance legal when the paranormal, psychic abilities or indeed ghosts and spirits don’t even exist as far as the law is concerned. let alone trying to explain to the operator what we actually need it for!
You may also find that you may be charged a richly sum of anything between £150 - £250 for a policy that is about as useful as a truckload of dead rats in a tampon factory!

So be careful when sourcing PL, after all, the only time you’ll find out that your not covered properly is when you make a claim and then it is too late!

"What level of cover do I need?"

Packages are available offering £1 million, £2 million and £5 million PL cover. If you are working in swanky hotels, museums or places with valuables then the chances are you will be asked for the £5 million option. As with anything, the more cover you require the more expensive it becomes, £1 million should be suitable in most cases for overnight studies and for longer studies or a more pulic attended event you can always extend to £5 million for short term cover!

"What is the difference between Public Liability and Professional Indemnity?"

PL cover is for damage to another person or their property whilst Professional Indemnity or PI as it is known, covers your liability for failing to produce work to a professional standard. Professional Indemnity Insurance provides you with financial protection for your business, the costs of defending claims made against you, including damages that may become payable. This comes into effect if, say, you have mediums in your group that charge a monetry value but give inaccurate details or cause wrongful guidance as a result.

You do not  always need PL & PI Insurance together unless its for one off events.

"How would having Professional Indemnity Insurance help me?"

You may be sued unfairly by a person who is merely dissatisfied, but has no valid claim. This would involve you in substantial legal costs and non-productive time. From the legal standpoint, the position with regard to the “duty of care” is the same for any professional. If you offer a service in a specific area or set yourself up as a specialist, you owe a “duty of care” to anybody who might reasonably rely upon your service and advice over and above that owed by the ordinary man in the street. If you offer a clearance and claim that you can do one, you arrive at the client's place, perform your work, state its cleared then go home. That person can then claim that they paid you and you did not do as you said.

"What is a good example of a PI claim?"

A good example of where PI would be useful is in the following case:
A Hartford woman says a Sioux Falls psychic adviser who promised to bring her estranged husband back scammed her out of $30,500. Jane Stockwell filed a lawsuit last week in Minnehaha County Circuit Court against Katherine Adams, who used to run Psychic Experience at 2012 S. Minnesota Ave. in Sioux Falls. Stockwell wants her money back plus at least $50,000 in punitive damages.

According to the complaint, Stockwell hired Adams in March 2006 to provide psychic services, personal counseling and related products. The business relationship ended in October 2007 after Stockwell made payments totaling $30,500.

“(Adams) represented to (Stockwell) … that these services and products would effect the return of (Stockwell’s) husband to their marriage,” the complaint states. “(Adams) made these representations knowing that they were not true or had no reasonable ground for believing them to be true.”

PI would be a great safety net if this was to happen.

"What should I do next?"

Always make sure that the cover you have in force is suitable. If you have bought PL cover from a High Street broker, write to them and make sure that it will cover you for the work you do. Never accept their word over the phone – if they won’t put it in writing to you, even by email, then you have no proof that you are covered.
Always use a reputable Insurer.

In : Group Advice 

Tags: insurance  paranormal  liabilty  help  advice 
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