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Members FAQ

1. We are entering into a contract which requires us to give an indemnity. Will this be covered by our Public Liability cover?

Indemnity clauses always need to be watched. The Public Liability cover exists to protect the Member and its employees where accidental injury or damage has been caused through an act or omission of the institution, its employees or its students for which the Member is liable. Where an indemnity clause merely requires the Member to indemnify the other party to the contract in those circumstances, there is no problem. Unfortunately, many such clauses seek to extend the Member's liability to include injury or damage which occurs without any fault on the part of the Member. To accept such a clause is to expose the Member to a serious risk of loss.

The cover provided by UMAL and its excess insurers will not apply to liabilities assumed by contract where such liability would not have existed in the absence of the contract. This should be borne in mind when contracts are drafted and any contract wording containing an indemnity clause should be referred to UMAL for a view on its implications for cover.

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2. Why are liabilities in connection with motor vehicles used on roads, ships and aircraft excluded from the public liability cover?

This is a general exclusion from this type of cover because there are specialist liability covers relating to motor road use, marine and aviation risks. The motor insurance which all Members have, covers liabilities in connection with the use of motor vehicles and those Members which operate vessels larger than those catered for by the Small Craft cover will have special insurance in place for them. One point which may, however, be overlooked is that the exclusion also refers to the "use" of vessels and aircraft and any research projects which involve work at sea or in the air should therefore be referred to UMAL for guidance on the liability implications.

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3. Are students on placement included in our liability covers?

The majority of student placements with companies in the UK present no problems. There is a market agreement between UK insurers that students on placement will be treated as if they were employees of the placement provider. Liability for injury or damage to third parties caused by their negligent acts or omissions will therefore be covered by the placement provider's public liability insurance, and the student will be deemed to be an employee for the purposes of the placement provider's employer's liability insurance. Recommended placement agreement wordings are available from UMAL.

Problems have arisen with placements with government and local authority departments, GPs and similar professionals, whose insurance does not cater for employees and cannot therefore pick up the student's liability. In such cases, the Member's public liability cover can be extended, at the Member's request, to include the liability of the student. It should be noted, however, that this extension will not include liability for injury or damage in the absence of negligence on the part of the Member or the student.

There may still be problems if the student is to carry out procedures under supervision which involve a professional negligence risk, as the placement provider's professional negligence insurance may not include such circumstances, and the Member's own professional indemnity cover cannot be extended to include students.

If the placement provider does not have employer's liability insurance, adequate personal accident insurance should be arranged for the student for the duration of the placement.

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4. What about placements abroad?

There may be problems where the placement provider does not have conventional insurance. This may well be the case abroad, where many placements are with governmental and quasi-governmental bodies which do not insure. It is recommended that the same placement agreement wordings be offered as for UK placements. If these are not acceptable, the Member's public liability cover can be extended to include the liability of the student, as explained in the answer to Question 2. On some occasions this member may be asked to provide an indemnity to the placement provider and such requests should be refered to UMAL.

In many overseas countries, employer's liability insurance is unknown and injuries at work are compensated automatically under a worker's compensation scheme. Students on placement may not qualify for inclusion in such schemes. This should be investigated before the placement is agreed, and, if no cover can be granted, then adequate personal accident insurance should be arranged for the student for the duration of the placement.

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