mitigate risk at the pool with a lifesaving device

Keeping Your Summer Risk Limited to a Sun Burn

Ned Kirklin
Ned Kirklin
Senior Vice President, Fraternal

Summer is right around the corner (or here, depending on who you talk with!)…which means fun, sun, and likely a whole lot of pool time! And if you’re a college student taking some courses over the summer break, hopefully you’re able to take in some of that relaxation. My biggest advice, though, is while you’re enjoying your time…be careful!

We understand fraternities and sororities will continue to host events, and although your organization’s General Liability Policy may cover a claim arising from an injury suffered as a result of the use of an “amusement-type” device at an event (for example: Slip’N Slides, mechanical bulls, jump houses, etc.), your exposure to risk can be significant.

While I’m definitely not trying to put a damper on fun summer plans, we do strongly discourage the use of these devices, and we will support you if you choose to take a stand against their use.

To give you a little insight of why…here are some claims we’ve seen that are pretty eye-opening: 

At a function in Tennessee, the claimant slid down a Slip’N Slide into a pool that was 3-feet-deep and sustained a cervical spinal cord injury. Although the claimant enjoyed a remarkable recovery, a jury ordered the fraternity to pay him more than $7 million.

In Kansas, pledges were told to construct a pool in violation of risk management policies, and the claimant was told to “swan dive” into the pool by an active member. He was left a paraplegic, and the settlement totaled almost $3 million.

A chapter in Oklahoma hosted an event in which the entertainment included a mechanical bull. The claimant fell while attempting to ride the bull and fractured her humerus bone, resulting in a claim of over $300,000.

So, What Can You Do This Summer to Ensure the Only Thing You’re Risking Is a Sun Burn?

Simple, follow there tips:

  • Educate undergraduate members and alumni/ae volunteers about the hazards and risks of these events
  • Constantly communicate your expectations to your members
  • Modify your risk management policies to address these hazards
  • Modify your insurance policy to exclude events like these
  • Demonstrate leadership by telling chapters who wish to host these events “No”

And if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask to anyone on the Holmes Murphy Fraternal team. We’re here to help!

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