VASSAR Liability and Black Powder Insurance


In June 2022, the VASSAR President authorized a special insurance committee be appointed to address the liability insurance issue. The Chairman is the VASSAR CG Commander and includes two Compatriots who are licensed insurance agents.

The VASSAR Insurance Committee initiated a search to find an insurance company which would agree to underwrite third party liability coverage (for both bodily injury and property damage) for VASSAR, the entity, and the activities of our VASSAR Color Guard members who conduct the firing of blank cartridges using black powder at VASSAR or non-VASSAR sanctioned events.

As we learned, several other state societies have retained Lockton (an insurance broker) to arrange liability coverage for their State Society’s Color Guard activities. Our choice was to select Lockton, as our broker. Our insurance underwriter, Acceptance Indemnity Insurance Company, is A.M. Best rated as A- (rated Excellent).

An early encouraging sign in the negotiation process was the fact that the insurance underwriter actually knew the difference between a musket and a rifle! We quickly structured a policy for black powder firings which applied to all VASSAR members in good standing; coverage extended to VASSAR and non-VASSAR firing events in Virginia or outside Virginia (the coverage travels with you); the elimination of policy deductibles; and that the Deposit Premium would be based on the initial listing of estimated VASSAR events for the policy year and audited at end of policy year.

The negotiation also addressed two other important issues: first, sometimes non-VASSAR SAR members from other state societies request to participate in a VASSAR CG musket firings. However, the VASSAR insurance coverage does not extend to non-VASSAR members, such as DAR, CAR, or non-VASSAR re-enactors. One option is to decline any offers to participate (due to zero coverage), or request the non-VASSAR member to present a written and valid Certificate of Insurance (COI) from an insurance company confirming their coverage extends to the specific member(s) within 48 hours prior to an event.

The second and even larger issue related to the policy exclusion called the Explosives Exclusion, for which many insurance companies assume a very broad interpretation. Our insurance company confirmed their narrow interpretation: namely that the exclusion does not apply to black powder firings of blank cartridges. The insurance company confirmed their Explosives Exclusion is intended to apply to fireworks, TNT or C-4.

From an administrative standpoint, Lockton is structured to service their accounts on a real-time basis. Any requests for VASSAR to provide a host event sponsor a Certificate of Insurance (COI) evidencing VASSAR insurance coverage, must be submitted to Lockton within 3 business days prior to the sponsored event. Also, Lockton provides a 1-888 claims reporting number for real-time claims/incident notification.

We will continue our commitment to loss control programs within our chapters minimizing risks. We will  seek more favorable renewal insurance coverage terms June. For now, Lockton has shown to be a supportive risk advisor to our insurance needs and the VASSAR mission.

    Richard E. Rankin

    Past President, George Washington Chapter

    VASSAR Insurance Committee, Insurance Advisor

Share this post:

Comments on "VASSAR Liability and Black Powder Insurance"

Comments 0-10 of 1

Chris Melhuish - Saturday, January 14, 2023

Thanks, Compatriot Rankin, for an informative article. I am very satisfied with the work we have done together to get a solid insurance policy in place -- and importantly, a process established for periodic reviews to assure proper coverage. I hope all members of the VASSAR CG and Chapter Presidents have read this article. Chris Melhuish VASSAR Color Guard Commander, and VASSAR Insurance Committee Chairman

Please login to comment