january 8, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 54  

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USC insurance headache
Policy will limit off-campus events

By Laura Katsirdakis
Gazette Staff

Dallas Curow/Gazette
OBSTACLES TO BEER CONSUMPTION... BLAH. The University Students’ Council’s insurance issues will make it much more difficult for groups to head to places like The Ceeps (pictured).

The University Students’ Council returned from the holidays without insurance coverage for off-campus events involving alcohol, forcing clubs to keep events on campus or try to acquire special insurance provisions.

“It sucks, big time,” said Aleksandra Mierzwa, president of the Polish Students’ Union. “I’m so pissed off at insurance companies; it’s a way of taking advantage of people.”

Previously, host liquor liability coverage was included in the USC’s general insurance policy, explained Mark Sellars, general manager of the USC. However, under a new arrangement effective Jan. 1, the USC’s coverage is now limited to The Wave and The Spoke and does not cover any off-campus alcohol-related events, despite their best efforts, he added.

Even with reduced coverage, the USC’s insurance premium costs doubled to $200,000 this year, Sellars noted.

“It’s not going to be as easy or as quick to plan [alcohol-related] events off campus,” Sellars said, adding the new restrictions will apply to any groups affiliated with the USC, such as clubs, faculty councils or soph groups.

With the lack of insurance for off-campus alcohol-related events, groups must ensure their event not only take place in a licensed and insured venue, but that the USC is also named an additional insured entity on the venue’s policy, Sellars said. If not, a separate event-specific policy will have to be purchased from different underwriters. The high cost of such a policy would need to be covered by the individual club, he confirmed.

“The insurance restrictions are not fun, but this is the situation we are faced with,” said USC President Paul Yeoman, adding the situation could have been much worse. The student union at McGill University was forced to shut down for a period of time because it had no insurance coverage, he explained.

“We really encourage people to have their events at The Wave and The Spoke,” Yeoman said, noting this will now be the easiest option as campus bars are still insured.

According to Sellars, the consolidation of the re-insurance industry, the industry’s reduction in high-risk coverage and the decision by the Canadian Universities Reciprocal Insurance Exchange to stop insuring student unions nationwide, has left many student unions scrambling to secure insurance coverage.

In a meeting held yesterday to inform club presidents about the changes, Sellars announced any USC affiliated group planning alcohol-related events must submit Alcohol Policy forms a minimum of five weeks in advance, and consult with Steve Allen, student services manager, to make the necessary insurance arrangements.

“It’s obnoxious, but there’s not much you can do,” said Matt Fisher, an executive with the Israel Action Committee, adding that downloading event-specific insurance costs to individual clubs makes sense.

—With files from Anton Vidgen



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