USC insurance headache
Policy will limit off-campus events
By Laura Katsirdakis
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,
“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,
“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