RISK MANAGEMENT FOR THE RECREATION PROFESSIONAL
Risk Management for the Recreation Professional
By Rachel Corbett, Managing Director, Centre for Sport and Law
Recreation is an inherently risky business. In Canada, injury statistics show nearly thirty percent of all injuries to adults result from sport and recreation activities. This figure rises to 40 percent for injuries in the 15 to 24 age group. In Ontario, where sports-related injuries have at times been documented, fully half of these injuries could have been prevented through careful attention to risk management.
Why is Risk Management Important?
Besides injury prevention, there are other compelling reasons for managing risks in recreation facilities, events and programs.
Litigation is increasing. Quite likely Canadians will never be as litigious as Americans, but as a society we are more likely to sue today than we were five years ago. Every recreation organization faces the possibility of a lawsuit, and even the most frivolous lawsuits must be defended in court. Not only are lawsuits expensive, they also cost time, people, image and good will. Practicing risk management now can help your organization avoid lawsuits in the future.
Insurance costs are increasing. Between 1983 and 1986 the Canadian Ski Association saw its insurance premiums rise from $7,700 to $245,000, an increase of some thirty thousand percent. Many organizations find it difficult to obtain any insurance at all. At the time of writing, the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association was having difficulty purchasing affordable liability insurance coverage.
Managing risks proactively helps an organization to be more informed about its insurance needs. Also, a comprehensive risk management program enables an organization to negotiate insurance terms with brokers and underwriters.
The client is changing. Participants are changing all the time, whether in terms of numbers, ages, preferences, or socioeconomic background. For example, many older adults are becoming involved in organized recreation and sport programs, as are other special populations. These higher risk groups present new challenges for risk management.