Climber using a climbing wall

Protection when you need it most

Cover is provided to you as a BMC member when you are instructing as a volunteer.

Here are some frequently asked questions about cover for volunteer instructors.

A volunteer instructor is defined as one that is not operating for financial profit.

An instructor counts as a volunteer if:

  • They log instructing hours during the consolidation period between training and accreditation of a Mountain Training qualification
  • They are instructing within an affiliated club of which they are a member
  • They are instructing in any other capacity and receives no payment or payment in kind other than reasonable expenses

When making a claim, insurers will make sure that the instructor has been operating on a voluntary basis. 

If you are working as a qualified instructor and are being paid for your instruction, you are not covered under the policy. To find out how you can be covered for your instructing work, get in touch with us.

As long as you have not received any financial profit other than reasonable expenses for instructing, Combined Liability will cover you.

The parties receiving instruction can expect to receive a high duty of care in the areas the volunteer instructor is qualified in. 

The parties receiving instruction can expect a lower duty of care than a professional instructor when the volunteer instructor is in the process of becoming a qualified instructor and is getting experience for their log, and is therefore not qualified, the participant can expect a lower duty of care. 

The instructor must declare they are not qualified in these relevant activities otherwise a participant could claim in court that they expected a higher duty of care.

As long as you are a member and have not received any financial profit other than reasonable expenses for instructing, Combined Liability will cover you.

Combined Liability will cover instructors working on a voluntary basis, regardless of whether the participants are known to them or have been sourced by advertising their services.

It is preferable that parties receiving instruction are also members, unless the instructor can be sure they have liability cover through membership of another mountaineering council.

A condition of the policy is that any incidents must be reported as soon as reasonably possible after they occur. Insurers may wish to defend you in a Civil Court, and therefore interview of witnesses, and authority accident reports are crucial. 

A claims made policy means that the policy cover and therefore membership needs to be in force when a claim incident is reported, not just at the time an incident occurs. 

The alternative – known as claims occurring policies - are restrictive in that the limit of indemnity applied by insurers is fixed at the time an incident occurs. For example, this means that an incident that occurred 5 years ago would attract an indemnity limit of £2m. At present, damages awarded in a court are four to five times that figure and so there is a danger individuals could be left financially exposed.

As the Combined Liability Policies are a claims made policies, this allows us to ensure the limits of indemnity can be moved on year by year. The current limit is set at £15m. For example, this would mean that an incident that occurred 2 years ago but was not reported or thought to be the subject of a claim, would attract the current limit of £15m.

Please note that revised legal rules put strict timetables on civil liability cases. This means that in some instances cases need to be decided upon within 40 days of initial action by a third party solicitor. Failure to follow the process of reporting or investigating the incident will mean automatic loss of a legal case. Incidents which may make you legally liable should be reported immediately. Reporting an incident just in case will not count against you, but failing to report may mean loss of the otherwise defendable legal action.

Climber using a climbing wall

We're always here to help

For an queries regarding insurance, speak to a helpful representative at Howden