Insurance coverage for volunteers

If you decide to get involved and do voluntary work, the first thing you think about is not what could happen. After all, you want to do good. But it is good to know under which circumstances voluntary activities are covered by accident and liability insurance. Who pays if something happens? Or even more important – what is not insured? Where do volunteers themselves bear the responsibility?

In terms of insurance coverage, a few general statements can be made and advice given. Special conditions often still apply to the different areas of commitment. Therefore, in order to be able to assess one's own activity, it is important to look at the exact circumstances.

As a rule, volunteers are covered by liability and accident insurance through the organization they work for. In addition, all Hessians who volunteer are insured through the framework agreements that the state of Hesse has concluded with the Sparkassen insurance company.

The framework agreements between the state of Hesse and the insurance companies cover accident and liability insurance. It comes into force when a damage is not covered by a private or other priority insurance policy.

Accident insurance


It protects against risks arising from the consequences of accidents that happen to volunteers themselves.

Generally speaking:
Every employee is legally insured against accidents. This protection very often also applies to activities for the common good. Anyone who volunteers for an association, church, charity, non-profit initiative or in the municipality is often automatically covered by statutory accident insurance.

All activities with which the helpers are commissioned are insured, including the routes required for this purpose. The decisive factor is that the work is done voluntarily and for the benefit of others. Therefore, there is no insurance coverage if it is a private operation. Whoever has an accident while practicing his hobby, for example, a sports accident, must cover himself.

The insurance carriers are the respective employers' liability insurance associations or the Unfallkasse Hessen (Hesse Accident Insurance Fund).

Statutory accident insurance coverage is usually non-contributory for volunteers. Voluntary insurance of volunteers in management positions of non-profit recognized associations may incur contributions.

The insurance coverage refers only to the person itself, it does not include compensation for property damage.

Organizations should check whether it is necessary for volunteers to register with the relevant employers' liability insurance association. Many organizations/initiatives keep a list of helpers.

Registration of volunteers by name at the professional association is usually not necessary. In the event of a claim, however, the association must confirm that the injured party was voluntarily active on behalf of the organization. A written assignment does not have to be expressly made in each individual case.

Tip: Make sure that the organization you are working for has a list of helpers for your work. Finally, in the event of an accident, the client must confirm which person has performed certain tasks as a helper.

Examples of accident insurance:
You are on your way by bicycle to the food bank where you help every Tuesday afternoon. On the way you fall and break an arm. Since it is an accident on the way to a voluntary assignment, there is insurance coverage.
At the AWO dementia group, you trip over a small step and injure your knee so severely that an operation with subsequent rehab is necessary. Insurance coverage takes effect.

You are an active volunteer in the team of the local agenda group and are on your way to a training event in your private car, for which you have been registered. You cause an accident with fender bender due to carelessness. You are liable for the property damage as the causer of the damage with your liability insurance. There is no insurance coverage that compensates for the increase in premiums.

You can find out what the statutory accident insurance covers on the website of the State of Hesse under Accident insurance coverage in volunteer work. (Please click on the two questions next to the blue arrows on the website of the state of Hesse.)

Further information can be found on the website of the state of Hesse "Gemeinsam-aktiv" under the points Free Insurance and Frequently Asked Questions
The number of the telephone hotline for all questions concerning the framework contracts with the Sparkasse insurance is also published there.

Liability insurance


It protects volunteers if they cause damage to other people or their property.

In general:
Typically, volunteers are covered for their volunteer work through their association liability insurance or the organization's liability insurance policy. With many liability insurances the insurance cover is not bound to a membership.

You are liable to recourse for damage caused in the course of your volunteer work, but in many cases you can pass on the injured person's recourse claims to your organization. Only damage caused intentionally is not insurable.
If this insurance cover does not apply or if none of the above-mentioned insurances exist, there is a framework agreement between the state of Hesse and the Sparkassen insurance company. It applies primarily to volunteers in legally non-binding associations such as interest groups and independent initiatives. Legally independent organizations such as clubs, associations or foundations are not released from their responsibility to ensure the insurance coverage of their volunteers by the framework agreements.

Particular care should be taken at repair cafes, for example. It is absolutely necessary to formulate a disclaimer here. Organizers should be sure to obtain legal advice or use the association's sample forms for this purpose.

More information can be found on the website of the state of Hesse "Gemeinsam-aktiv" under the items Free Insurance and Frequently Asked Questions.
The number of the telephone hotline for all questions concerning the framework contracts with the Sparkassenversicherung is also published there.

What you can't insure:

  • Damage caused to personal property by volunteers themselves in the course of their activities (apart from glasses damaged in the course of an accident)
  • an increase of the deductible in the car insurance in case of a self-caused accident during the honorary activity
  • Bodily injury or property damage to third parties caused by volunteers during their work in an accident with their private car, motorcycle or moped; however, insurance coverage is provided by the vehicle owner's motor vehicle liability insurance
  • Bodily injury to occupants of a private car who were passengers in an accident; however, insurance coverage is available through the vehicle owner's motor vehicle liability insurance policy

Ask your institution if you have a business trip vehicle insurance, then the trips with your private car are also insured. Otherwise you bear the risk in the event of damage.

Insurance coverage for volunteers at schools:

Here, too, volunteers are protected by the statutory accident insurance. This is subject to the condition that

  • Volunteers engage in activities at the direction and approval of the school (principal and teachers)
  • The activities take place within the school premises or it is a commuting accident
  • the activity outside of school is a school event (for example, excursions)

As a rule, there is liability insurance through the school.

If this is not the case, liability insurance through the state of Hesse kicks in for damage caused by volunteers. The general agreements with the Sparkassenversicherung apply. This can be claimed if there is no insurance coverage by the employing organization or a private liability insurance.

However, this can only account for damage sustained in direct activity inside and outside of school, not z. B. Damages incurred on the way to school.
Here, too, the prerequisite is that volunteers are working on the instructions and with the approval of the school or another institution.

The special responsibility of sponsorships outside of school:

A sponsorship is a commitment with a special responsibility. This also applies to learning sponsorships at schools. If sponsors meet with their mentee outside of school, the school's insurance coverage ends.
Then the insurance coverage of the Sparkassenversicherung of the state of Hessen takes effect.
Here, too, as above, the order or consent on the part of the school (or another institution) is a prerequisite for insurance coverage.

Sponsors cannot be released from the duty of supervision to the mentee.
Sponsors take on the responsibility of supervision for the mentee. The school or arranging agency should be sure to point out that. Of course, the consent of the parents is also necessary, without which a sponsorship cannot be arranged.

The insurance coverage does not apply only if the sponsor can be proven to have acted with gross negligence.

The mentee himself is not insured through the state's savings bank insurance policy. For this, the private insurance coverage of the parents applies.

Damage to the volunteer's own car is not covered, in this case there is no coverage by a state insurance company. It is therefore absolutely advisable to refrain from joint trips with your own car.

A teacher coordinates learning mentorships between volunteers and elementary school students. In a 1:1 supervision, the tandem meets at fixed times within the school building. But beyond that, they also arrange to do activities outside of school grounds. The teacher knows about the appointments, but the design and scheduling is solely in the hands of the tandem. The following could happen:

Volunteer and mentee are at the local library, the sponsor trips and breaks his leg he is insured.

Mentee pours cola over a book this is insured through the private liability of the mentee, no insurance coverage through school or state of Hesse.

You have come together by car and the volunteer has disregarded the right of way the car liability of the vehicle owner, accident insurance Land Hessen for the sponsor takes effect, for the mentee there is no statutory accident insurance.

The child trips and breaks a leg the child's health insurance or. the parent steps in.

Bottom line: sponsorships with elementary school students are covered inside and outside of school under the described conditions. This includes liability and accident coverage. It must not be a privately initiated activity, it must be under the "umbrella" of a carrier. Trips with the own car are excluded.