/ Personal Liability Insurance for climbing - do you have it?

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tom.dodo - on 05 Apr 2013
Hi,
I've posted an introduction topic here a few days ago (I'm new to the forum),

anyway, I've been climbing for the last few years mostly indoors with some outdoor trips as well, mostly on easy-ish grades. Partner(s) have always been people I knew reasonably well from before going climbing.
I've never bothered with insurance so far and never thought about it really.

However, I want to get more serious on the trad business, have posted on here, have already chatted to a few potential partners etc.
Which got me thinking: what are people's thoughts on personal liability insurance?
I mean, I just thought I may end up going out with somebody I don't know that well, more experienced and bolder than me attempting tricky moves on which they are likely to fall, and me belaying them is effectively quite a liability.

I was thinking the BMC membership, given it's got the added perks of magazine, discounts and related travel insurance.

Any thoughts on whether a regular climber should consider that insurance?

ta.
Durbs on 05 Apr 2013
In reply to tom.dodo:

In terms of dropping someone else, I don't think you'd be liable as your climbing buddy would've have inherantly accepted the risk.
Unless you unclipped your device and wandered off...

You need it to climb at Cheddar Gorge (which is why I got mine) - I gather this is mostly as Cheddar's fairly loose/chossy with a number of cars parked beneath the crags, so it's to cover putting a rock through someone else's bonnet.
Oceanrower - on 05 Apr 2013
In reply to Durbs: Yes and no. You do need it on the South side of the gorge due to restrictions by Cheddar Caves and Gorge (owned by the Marquis of Bath Longleat Estate)

Contrary to what their wardens tell youy, tou do not need it on the North side of the road which is National Trust/CROW land
The Ex-Engineer - on 05 Apr 2013
In reply to tom.dodo:
> Any thoughts on whether a regular climber should consider that insurance?

Yes.

On one level it depends on whether you have a high net worth. If you are broke, then no-one is ever going to bother suing you, so insurance is slightly irrelevant. However if you happen to have a house or assets worth 1/2million, then you'd be an utter imbecile not to have insurance for a few quid.

On the second level, having insurance is just the responsible thing to do. If you did cause an accident and badly injured someone else, the fact you have insurance means you have the reassurance that they and their family/children are going to not going to suffer unnecessarily due to your actions. After all, that is the whole point of insurance, thousands of people contribute small amounts so that those for whom the worst happens, can receive suitable compensation.

(In one case I believe a Mountain Guide went as far as to not enter a strong defence in a negligence case after the death of a client as he was content to be blamed if it meant that his client's widow would receive a substantial insurance payout.)

Finally, don't think that other climbers wouldn't ever sue you. If an injury impacts someone financially and imperils their childrens' standard of living then you can be fairly certain they will recourse to law if they have something to gain.
martinph78 on 05 Apr 2013
In reply to tom.dodo:

>I may end up going out with somebody I don't know that well, more experienced and bolder than me attempting tricky moves on which they are likely to fall, and me belaying them is effectively quite a liability.

Regardless of insurance, don't do it. I doubt anyone who didn't know you would be too bold either. I wouldn't. I only trust one friend completely for multi-pitch routes and pushing my grade. He's the one who has never dropped me...

Chris the Tall - on 05 Apr 2013
In reply to tom.dodo:
Any regular climber should consider joining the BMC anyway - we should all support it's role as our pressure group - but PL insurance is another good reason. I'm a member of the CTC (cycling) for the same reasons.

Cheddar is a great example. The access situation has improved a lot in recent years, thanks to patient negotiation by the BMC, but there is the stipulation that you must have PL insurance to climb there. Given that many landowners have major concerns about liability, we might see more of this in the future.
tom.dodo - on 05 Apr 2013
In reply to tom.dodo:

Thanks for the tips guys.

to The Ex Engineer:
you've made a few good points, I don't have any assets or liabilities (most expensive things I have is a 10 year old car, two bikes and the climbing rack really), but I see your point and those were my thoughts as well.
As well, I don't think climbers and outdoorsy people have a suing frenzy like some other people do (I know a little about suing frenzies as I volunteer with St John Ambulance providing First Aid at events and treat patients with injuries for which they will try to find someone to blame so they can sue somebody in a cash machine fashion)

to Martin1978:
yeah, of course I'll avoid that. I'll be on the safe side and only go for bold routes when there's a lot of mutual trust. But I just thought that the situation above may happen sometimes.

to Chris_the_Tall:
good point thanks for pointing it out, sometimes it's just too easy being selfish without thinking who's doing a lot of work for us.

Thanks guys, I just wanted to hear a few opinions. I think I'll go for it, they've got an offer now for 15 a year so pretty affordable really.

deepsoup - on 05 Apr 2013
In reply to tom.dodo:
> I mean, I just thought I may end up going out with somebody I don't know that well, more experienced and bolder than me attempting tricky moves on which they are likely to fall, and me belaying them is effectively quite a liability.

If you think you might not be competent to belay someone, you shouldn't be doing it obviously. But it probably isn't any kind of liability legally - have a google of 'volanti non fit injuria'.

But Chris the Tall is bang on imo, you should prolly join the BMC anyway. ;o)
tom.dodo - on 05 Apr 2013
In reply to deepsoup:
> (In reply to tom.dodo)
> [...]
>
> If you think you might not be competent to belay someone, you shouldn't be doing it obviously. But it probably isn't any kind of liability legally - have a google of 'volanti non fit injuria'.
>
>

Yes sure, but things can happen. It's a bit like you're on a steep bit, you think you can do a particular move, do it, then slip and lose it. It *shouldn't* happen if you think you're competent, but it still *may* happen when things are tricky to judge. I'm a pretty safe person and never take too many risks anyway.

So far, I've belayed a few falls correctly. However, I haven't belayed a "big" fall yet. I think I am competent, and I know the theory behind it, but until it actually happens I won't know for sure.

Cheers!
Mountain Llama - on 05 Apr 2013
In reply to tom.dodo: I use the bmc exactly 4 this reason. It's 30 pounds a year, plus the bmc champion other important issues like access and representing climbers, runners and walkers on a national level etc. They are also a not for profit organisation.
Jim Hamilton - on 05 Apr 2013
In reply to tom.dodo:

If you have household contents insurance or such like you probably have the cover already
needvert on 05 Apr 2013
One reason I like going climbing is its so distant from civilization and all the getting sued and liability bs that paralyzes many a modern society.
tom.dodo - on 05 Apr 2013
In reply to needvert:
> One reason I like going climbing is its so distant from civilization and all the getting sued and liability bs that paralyzes many a modern society.

I agree with this completely. It was just a thought and asked people's opinions.
I also find it ridiculous that I have personal third-party insurance on my touring/road bike. I didn't want it, it's just the better deal for theft insurance came with that as well. When I bought it I was talking with a mate and we said "since when it's cycling something you have to be insured for? I remember it being all about being fun and carefree". Which is what you said, i.e. away from this suing civilisation.
Ciro - on 05 Apr 2013
In reply to tom.dodo:

If you're wanting travel insurance austrian alpine club membership is much more cost effective than the BMC - you get rescue, medical and repatriation insurance as well as 3rd party liability included in the 43 membership fee, with the added bonus of reciprocal rights to discounted huts should anywhere in the alps should you venture up there (you can get a reciprocal rights card from the BMC, but it costs extra).
Howard J - on 06 Apr 2013
In reply to tom.dodo: It's "all fun and carefree" right up to the point where YOU cause an accident which leaves someone else with a life-changing injury, or even dead. Then they, or their next of kin, will be seeking compensation, not to punish you but because they need it to maintain some quality of life.

Don't think that you won't get sued "because we all accept the risks" or "it's not in the spirit of the sport". Romantic ideas about the partnership of the rope may not stand up for long against the prospect of being unable to work again, and a life on benefits. The person you injure may not be your mate but a total stranger, perhaps just a passer-by and not even a climber, who will have no qualms about suing you. Or it might be their widow, who's unlikely to be sympathetic to that argument either. Perhaps they've claimed on their own life or accident insurance, which means their insurance company will be after you to recoup what they've had to pay out.

There's a useful paper on the BMC website which explains the different types of liability and insurance cover available. Like so much on the new-look website, it's not easy to find and its tucked away amongst the club guidance - not an obvious place to look if you're not in a club.

Just because someone gets injured doesn't mean someone can be sued. For 3rd party liability to arise you have to be negligent in the legal sense, which is more than just ordinary carelessness. 3rd party insurance exists to protect the victims of your negligence. If you have assets, it protects you against losing them. Even if you don't, you at least have a moral obligation towards those you might injure.

It should be a no-brainer. Let's face it, this is dangerous activity, accidents happen, and sometimes someone is to blame. Don't think it couldn't be you, or couldn't happen to you. You should have 3rd party cover, and you should consider accident insurance for yourself, in case YOU get injured and it's not due to someone else's negligence (or they're not insured). You should also make sure the people you climb with have insurance too. This is one of the benefits of belonging to a BMC-affiliated club - you know that that any members you climb with are automatically covered. If you don't want to join a club, become an individual member and get personal accident cover too.
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PaulHarris - on 10 Apr 2013
In reply to Howard J:
The was an incident back in the 80's when there was one lead climber on one route going left to right accross the crag and a second lead climber on a route that went straight up the crag. At one point on the crag the 2 routes crossed. At this point the climber on the traverse was directly above the other climber. As the climber above began to move up a very large flake it detached from the crag. The result was the lower climber was killed.

The family of the dead climber tried to sue the other climber but the judge through it out of court as the concense of opionion of the experts was that all climber know of the inherant risk and accept it.

As to damage to others property well that is another issue

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