Published on: January 30, 2001
Many associations, as a part of their amenity package, offer such things as exercise classes, yoga, tennis lessons and similar organized activities. As might be expected, these activities are fertile grounds for injuries and, therefore, law suits. Where they are part of the regular operation of the association there is a good probability that this liability would be covered by the association’s general liability policy. However, to be sure that no gap exists, informing the association’s insurance agent of the proposed activity in advance and obtaining a confirmation of coverage, preferably from the carrier, is clearly appropriate. In that way the association can safely proceed knowing that coverage is available. As the association may change insurers over the years, these “special” coverages should be confirmed by any new carrier. In fact, including such in the specification for coverage at bidding stage would be wise.
Beyond this, association’s can take the extra precaution of having the participants’ sign a Release. Often boards, their managers and attorneys mistakenly believe that pre-injury releases are invalid. Much of this stems from the inefficacy of things like “dive at your own risk” signs. However, specific releases, knowingly signed have been up-held in Massachusetts. Thus, an association would be wise to have their attorney draft such a release for a given program and the board would be equally wise in insisting upon its being signed before a resident is allowed to join in the activity.