BRCA Insurance Info

 
Here is some information about the insurance provided when you join the BRCA, by following this link - BRCA Membership
 
The Serious Bit – Insurance & The RC Racer

As treasurer of the BRCA I am responsible for the administration of the public liability insurance for our membership.  I am quite regularly asked details about why it's necessary, what it covers and why its becoming a really important area of today's society and how it effects YOU. 

The most important point is what it is for - Public Liability insurance covers the individual or club against claims made against them for injuries or other damage caused to members of the public i.e. any other racer (who at that moment isn't involved in the race), a spectator or other bystander or property belonging to them.

It is a sad fact of modern living that an 'accident' is no more, they just don't happen any more.  We now have 'incidents' and 'incidents' are always somebody's fault, this is to allow solicitors to make a living and for people to think about ever more amazing ways to get 'compensation'.  Nearly every day we see adverts on the television for specialist legal firms offering a 'no win, no fee' service for compensation claims, for injuries received. 

These 'experts' are the people you end up dealing with when things go wrong.

Rule Number One - Model Car Racing is Fun.
Rule Number Two - Fun does not mean irresponsible.

Is it really necessary?

Well that depends on your outlook doesn't it?  Insurance is only necessary when you need to use it, however there are, I would estimate, 15,000 racers in the UK plus countless thousands just using RC cars for fun.  I personally deal with about 4 cases in an average year for the BRCA membership of some 8,000, so the odds are about 2,000 to one that you will be involved in accident in the next twelve months that results in an insurance claim, pretty low, but I bet you have a go on the lottery and that's 14,000,000 to one!

A race director/club chairman will insist that you produce your membership card or prove that your insurance is valid, before he lets you race.  Can you imagine the problems for him if he allowed someone without insurance to compete and injury to a member of the public or another racer happened? 

Remember it is their responsibility to ensure that they, the club and all the racers present are insured and all protected from personal liability – they are not being awkward they are being very sensible indeed, respect it – or race somewhere else/not at all.

If the sport ever became uninsurable then there wouldn't be any racing as nobody (in their right mind anyway) would be willing to put the events on or run a club for it. 


The Cover is:

Public Liability Insurance to a minimum of £5,000,000
To include:
Cover for use: Anywhere at Any time.
Cover as an organiser as well as a competitor.
Cover for organisers no matter where or when the event is held.


The Cover Isn't:

Personal Accident.  If you hurt yourself, either by running yourself over (don't laugh it has happened) or by stepping out in front of a car, without looking whilst marshalling (see note below on this) then you're on your own as far as our cover is concerned.
If you're concerned about this/don't get paid sick/generally clumsy etc – then get yourself Personal Accident cover, it's not hugely expensive (a few multiples of your membership fee!) and it's normal intention is to replace your normal level of income if you hurt yourself.

Always:

Use your car in a responsible manner.  Never use it somewhere the law (or local by-laws) don't allow – the street being the normal one seen.  If in doubt as to the suitability of a site, go with your doubts and go somewhere else.

How it affects who:

The Fun User

You may be thinking 'I don't race therefore I have no problem', please think again.  Tracks have to have a barrier/fence so the cars are restrained from getting to the public and visa versa.  Driving one in the park has no safety features.  There is nothing to stop the car if you get interference and there is nothing to stop the people who haven't seen or heard what you are doing.  This is probably why there are more accidents involving relatively slow, but quiet, electric cars than the fast, but noisy, i.c. cars.  In this kind of situation it is always the responsibility of the user, you are directly responsible for yours and your cars actions.

The Club Racer

Most claims result from club meetings.  They are normally of the type where somebody's car has left the track and injured, in a relatively minor way, another racer or some equipment or some part of the event hardware (rostrums/staging etc) has failed.  The injured person or venue owner then claims for loss of pay or repair costs and any inconvenience. 

See the bit about club chairman to see how and where the responsibility lies, but don't forget that YOU the racer is where the initial claim will start, just because someone else is organising things doesn't mean that you are not responsible for your own actions.

The National Racer

Claims resulting from Nationals are generally an exaggerated version of the club types.  The accidents tend to be faster and more severe for two reasons, the cars are travelling faster and there is normally an enhanced safety fence/safety procedure which the accident has managed to overcome.  However there are proportionally less claims, probably because the safety systems manage to contain 90% of the problem.  Again the ultimate responsibility is the race organiser/BRCA Steward but as with the club racer, the individual is always responsible for their actions.

The Race Director/Club Chairman

This is where the buck stops.  At all meetings other than Nationals where the rules state 'BRCA Steward' all claims will involve the Club Chairman or the Race Director.  In the event of any claim this person will be involved as he is the person deemed to be liable for the safety of the event and the persons taking part in it (this is the same as in any other sport or public event). The Race Director must be satisfied that everyone is in a safe environment and that additional hazards are not allowed to be created i.e. closing a track/stopping a race if a track repair is urgently required.  However, most of the time the Race Directors/Club Chairman's role is just to confirm the basic facts about the accident, to collaborate the claim and to confirm any other issues that may have had a bearing on its outcome.

Big Meetings – Nationals & Above

The buck here rests securely with the 'BRCA Steward', that is the highest ranking committee member present.  It is their responsibility to ensure that all 'reasonable precautions' are taken to ensure the racers and the public's safety.  If they have any doubt they will halt the meeting until the problem has been resolved.  Again the potential problems are just increased from the club situation with the added questions that large numbers of the public can cause.

Marshalling

At all the above meetings (apart from the fun user of course)

Marshalling is an accepted part of our sport, we race and then we marshal is the built in ethos, though of course ability and age are sometimes taken into consideration.

It is also accepted that racing tracks, of all sizes, are dangerous places to be.  However, somebody will determine a safe place to marshal from (it may be self determined at a club or by an official at a National – it doesn't matter) while you are at your marshal post/point the insurance cover applies.  But when YOU decide to leave that post and retrieve a car then do be aware that YOU have made that decision – it's then your responsibility to keep yourself safe.  You cannot blame and therefore claim off yourself, when you get it wrong.

If you read nothing else in the Handbook, read the General Rules (pages 14/15 2009 edition)

Getting this cover:

If you're reading this as a BRCA member you already have it, if not then read on:

You may already have it anyway.  If you have public liability insurance for anything else it may possibly cover you but please check as most of the time it will not and ensure you mention 'Radio Controlled Cars' and not just 'Model Cars' as there is a huge difference to the layman.

It may come with the building your club hires, if it does it probably only covers the racers whilst in the building, sounds daft I know but the club members concerned need to know they have no cover when using their vehicles elsewhere.

Insure the club, this works fine and most high street brokers can arrange this.  Ensure that the club members are covered as individuals (see points above) and be careful if it appears cheap.  One local club found out in the worst way that their cover was as a 'Model Car Club' i.e. for building plastic kits and not for 'racing Radio Controlled Model Cars'.

Join the BRCA as an individual, we are not insurance experts but our brokers are!

As an individual all you need to do is follow the link at the top of this page and you are covered until the end of the year (Jan to Dec).  You are now insured to use/race your car anywhere in the UK and even when abroad on your holidays!

Affiliating a club is a time consuming task for club officials (no more, probably less, than any other good insurance though), however the affiliation scheme covers the club officials and its members.  This protects all those mums, dads and other club members who don't race, wherever they may be racing and for all aspects of the sport.  This method is how most clubs now do their insurance, it is generally cost effective (high street policies tend to be quite expensive).  Also there is the added bonus of not only do our brokers know exactly how our sport works but of course you get the benefits of BRCA membership thrown in!

Insurance is a spectacularly boring part of our exciting sport but it is vital to its continued success and it isn't a subject that is going to go away.  At some point you will either be involved or see something that will make you realise it's worth, just ensure that you realise how worthwhile it is AFTER you have it. 

Jim Spencer
Treasurer
British Radio Car Association