Volunteer FAQs - Insurance

Below are answers to some frequently asked questions about insurance. More information can be found in our Insurance and Risk Assessments section, including a full overview of the insurance policy and the confirmation of cover document.

If you have any other queries that are not answered below please get in touch.

All accredited Walking for Health schemes have access to the Ramblers’ insurance Liability policy while undertaking Walking for Health activities. This means that insurance cover may be provided under the terms of the policy where walk leaders failed to exercise reasonable care in protecting walk participants from bodily injury or personal property damage, for example, through inadequate or unsafe walk route risk assessments.  It does not cover personal accident or medical cover.

The terms of the Ramblers’ insurance are provided on the basis that the following best practice procedures are followed. These procedures demonstrate that reasonable care is taken to minimise incidents which affect participants:

  • All walk leaders receive training before leading walks
  • Risk assessments are completed for all walks
  • Walkers complete a walker registration form before completing their first walk
  • Registers are completed for each walks to record the names of participants
  • Walkers are given information about the route in advance, enabling them to decide if they’re able to take part based on any health conditions they may have.
  • If any incidents occur, an accident report form is submitted to the Ramblers. Scheme coordinators can do this via the database or by emailing walkingforhealth@ramblers.org.uk

Walkers are asked to complete a registration form as a matter of good practice. This helps us to capture their name and contact information, provides information to the participants about the risks of walking with specific health conditions, and provides an opportunity to capture information for monitoring and evaluation.

Ensuring the forms are completed is part of good practice procedures, and this was taken into account when our insurers accepted the risk and quoted terms. Any deliberate decision to stop this best practice would need to be referred to underwriters and could affect the terms and conditions of the policy or whether insurers wish to continue with the insurance.

However, if a participant does not want to complete the form, you do not have to stop them joining the walk, but it is important to take their name so you have a record of who has attended on the walk register. In the event of an insurance claim, this will ensure that we can trace that the individual was in attendance at the time they allege negligence occurred. It is also important that walk leaders make participants aware that they walk at their own risk, and if they have any health conditions that may affect them while walking they should let the walk leader know. 

There are no medical or physical disability restrictions under the current policy. The insurance does not cover personal accident or medical cover. This is the case whether they answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the health screening questions – it does not invalidate the insurance cover. Therefore, they can attend the walk – you do not need to stop them attending.

The walker registration form includes the questions from the ‘physical activity readiness questionnaire’ (PAR-Q), a self-screening tool that can be used by anyone who is planning to start an exercise programme. It recognises that individuals are able, when given the appropriate information about the risks involved with getting active, to make informed decisions about their own health and wellbeing. The questionnaire encourages participants to speak to the walk leader if they have any conditions that may affect them while on the walks, and highlights a disclaimer that they take part at their own risk and should seek medical advice if appropriate.

If someone responds ‘yes’ to any of the questions, it is up to them to determine if they should seek medical advice before joining the walk, and if they should have a discussion with the walk leader to determine their suitability for the walk or what adjustments could be made (such as going at a slower pace or avoiding a route with a steep slope).

Risk assessments should be completed before the walks and should include considerations for participants with a medical or physical disability.  We suggest making sure that walkers know enough about the walk before it starts in order to make the decision on whether it is suitable for them. Advising about bringing a friend / relative / carer may be helpful. It is also important for schemes to make sure that walks are as open and accessible as they can be to ensure that we do not exclude because of a disability. Where medical or physical disabilities are disclosed, schemes may wish to consider asking for written confirmation from walkers about their ability to start walking before they begin but it is not a legal requirement.

If the walk leader simply forgets or overlooks getting the walker registration form completed, the policy will still respond.

It is important to follow our best practice and standard procedures in all respects, as this was taken into account when our insurers accepted the risk and quoted terms. Our standard practice includes asking participants to complete a walker registration form and giving information about possible risks or considerations of the route. 

If the walk leader simply forgets to point this out the policy will still respond.

It is important to follow our best practice and standard procedures in all respects, as this was taken into account when our insurers accepted the risk and quoted terms. Our standard practice requires valid risk assessments to be completed in advance, and walk leaders giving participants information about possible risks or considerations of the route. 

You do not need to keep paper records once the information has been added to the database. The fact that the details have been added to the database is evidence that the walker has been provided with the information and seen the form.

The registration forms are not an obligatory part of our insurance cover – walkers don’t have to complete Walker registration forms, but they’re asked to complete them as a matter of good practice. This was taken into account when our insurers quoted our terms and accepted our risk. We therefore do not need to produce evidence of the signed forms as part of an insurance claim. 

The fact that the details have been added to the database is evidence that the walker has been provided with the information and seen the form.

Insurance cover may be provided under the terms of the policy where walk leaders failed to exercise reasonable care in protecting walk participants from bodily injury or personal property damage, for example, through inadequate or unsafe walk route risk assessments. It does not cover personal accident or medical cover – which is why walkers need to be aware that they walk at their own risk.  Ensuring that people read this on the form is a way of drawing the walker’s attention to this – you do not have to prove that they have accepted this waiver.  

This disclaimer is here for good practice, to raise awareness of the fact that walkers take part at their own risk and should make an informed decision about their own health and wellbeing. The insurance does not cover personal accident or medical cover. This is the case whether they tick the box or not – it does not invalidate the insurance cover. Therefore, they can attend the walk – you do not need to stop them attending.

It is however important to record who attends each walk to ensure that you can trace this individual was in attendance at the time they allege negligence occurred.

 

Insurance cover may be provided under the terms of the policy where walk leaders failed to exercise reasonable care in protecting walk participants from bodily injury or personal property damage, for example, through inadequate or unsafe walk route risk assessments. It does not cover personal accident or medical cover – which is why walkers need to be aware that they walk at their own risk.  Ensuring that people read this on the form is a way of drawing the walker’s attention to this – we do not have to prove that they have accepted this waiver. The details from the registration form are transferred to the database, this is considered as evidence that they had a form.

It is important to record who attends each walk by completing a walk register to ensure that you can trace an individual’s attendance at the time they allege negligence occurred.

Maintaining a register of attendees on walks is the most appropriate method of keeping track of who attends each walk. Insurers usually suggest that records should be kept for a minimum of 25 years for insurance purposes.

We are currently looking into how anonymising walker records on the database affect how they appear on walk registers. Please contact the Walking for Health team if you have an enquiry about anonymising a database record. 

 

Although unlikely, it’s possible for anyone to make a claim against you.  Completing the Walker registration form will not prevent this.  In the event of an allegation or claim it is important that you are able to produce your risk assessment and register.

It is important to record who attends each walk to ensure that you can trace this individual was in attendance at the time they allege negligence occurred. Keeping a note on the database is a useful way of tracking this.

Near misses should also be tracked as well as those that might give rise to a claim.

Examples of incidents that should certainly be reported include:

• 999 has been called.
• Urgent medical help is required.
• Outside help is needed to get someone to safety.
• Someone dies.

Incidents involving significant loss or damage to property, whether belonging to participants or to a third party, should also be reported. But some minor injuries might result in a claim too – so there is no easy rule about this: a certain amount of judgement and common sense is required.

The Ramblers is required to report any incidents which may give rise to a claim under the policy as soon as possible, and no later than 30 days after the incident happening. To ensure we have sufficient time to process forms, we ask that schemes send them on to us within two weeks of the incident.

The insurance does not stipulate ratios and this will have no impact in terms of cover. But, we strongly recommend that every walk has at least two trained leaders and no more than 20 walkers per walk leader.

No, as long as they are fit and well enough to conduct walks, there is no set age limit.

Although walking is very low risk and injuries and accidents are rare on health walks, we recommend that schemes enable walk leaders to undertake basic first aid training in CPR (Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation); however, this is currently not an insurance requirement. The Ramblers do not currently provide this although The British Heart Foundation delivers free basic CPR courses under its ‘Heart Start’ programme. For courses near you, visit www.bhf.org.uk .

Although it is not mandatory, we do recommend as a matter of best practice that walk leaders should carry a small, basic first aid kit, but they should only administer first aid if they are qualified to do so.  

If a walk leader attempted to administer first aid to help an injured party with the best intentions, to the best of their ability and in line with their training, the insurance policy would hold.

No, providing they are fit and well enough to participate.  Walk leaders should make sure that everyone knows the distance and terrain the walk will cover to enable people to make the decision as to whether they will be able to manage the walk.

Walking for Health schemes should only accept children and young people under the age of 18 on activities when they are accompanied by a parent, legal guardian or other person with equivalent responsibility for them such as a teacher or youth worker. 

>>Download our safeguarding policy and guidance ( PDF) (updated March 2017)

There are no exclusions relative to participants with alcohol and drug issues. However we strongly recommend that appropriate risk assessments are conducted to ensure that walkers attend safe health walks. It is also advisable to seek any additional training for walk leaders if you feel it is needed. For example you could contact your local NHS advisor / Reach out recovery / ADS / Turning point organisations for more local guidance. It is also useful to assess whether family members / carers should be present on the walks for additional support.  

Yes, we’re the same organisation, and we also have civil liability insurance to cover the walks run by our local Areas and Groups and by our other projects such as Get Walking Keep Walking. However health walks are managed in a rather different way to Ramblers walks, and we have different arrangements in place regarding what is and is not covered, best practice and incident reporting. Ramblers Areas and Groups can get more information about insurance issues at www.ramblers.org.uk/volunteer/insurance.

If you are volunteering for another Ramblers project and are concerned about insurance, please ask your volunteer manager or coordinator.

No – the insurance does not include barefoot walking as an insured activity. Leaders and scheme coordinators must make it very clear to anyone wanting to walk barefoot they do so at their own risk and to tell them that we strongly recommend that they do not walk barefoot. 

There is no time limit under the policy. However, in law, in the case of most personal injuries, a third party has three years to make a claim for damages from the date of the accident or from when they become aware of their injuries. As with most things there are always exceptions so if there are any particular concerns it may be necessary to take legal advice.

Claims related to these incidents are not covered by the current policy but may well be covered by the policy previously maintained by Natural England. Please contact Natural England for details.

No. The policy only covers recognised Walking for Health activities – those activities walk leaders are trained to support in the walk leader training course. As we don’t train and support people to run other kinds of activities, we can’t provide insurance for these.

No. The insurance only covers activities run by registered Walking for Health schemes. If you are leading walks for another organisation or group you will not be covered by our insurance.

Responsible organisations running walks should have their own civil liability insurance. We strongly recommend that you ask the other organisation about their own civil liability insurance before agreeing to lead a walk for them.

Dogs on walks do not affect the insurance cover in any way, as long as the activity is a recognised and planned Walking for Health activity.  Responsibility for the dog lies with the individual dog owner who must ensure that their dog remains under close control.

Please note under the Equality Act (2010) the wording of ‘no dogs’ on walk descriptions is in breach of the Act.  The Act covers indirect disability discrimination; this occurs when there is a policy or practice which disadvantages people with a disability. An example from the Act is a ‘No dogs’ rule which particularly disadvantages assistance dog users. Therefore an organisation is required to make reasonable adjustment to this rule to ensure that no disadvantage occurs.

Assistance dogs covered by the Act are:

  • hearing dogs
  • guide dogs
  • service dogs
  • therapy dogs
  • seizure alert dogs

Under the Act, these dogs must be allowed to walk with their owners.  If schemes do not want dogs on their walks they must state “Registered assistance dogs only”. 

If they are not assistance dogs, we would suggest that the walk leader take responsible action when it comes to dogs attending walks. This might mean ensuring the group are happy with a dog coming along on the walk. If a dog is barking / appearing to be aggressive, the leader could ask the owner to put a muzzle on or return next week without the dog.

It would also be best practice to state on the programme leaflet which walks allow dogs other than assistance dogs and which do not.

The insurance will kick in if volunteers have taken the above care to ensure that walkers are safe.

No. The policy only covers health walking activities, not getting to or from walks (unless people are collected from their homes by walk leaders on foot – see the question on buddy walks).

If you are providing walks that fall outside of an accredited Walking for Health scheme, then you can find information about Ramblers', affiliated Ramblers' and liability insurance here.

The cover applies to recognised Walking for Health activities, when the volunteer or coordinator is working on behalf of the Ramblers. This might include a public event to promote Walking for Health. 

When undertaking any such activities, it must be clear that the event is directly related to Walking for Health and the volunteer is operating on behalf of Walking for Health. Providing a risk assessment of the venue and activities would need to be completed, as it would be on health walks themselves.

Yes, though as always we recommend a risk assessment is carried out taking the conditions of night time walking into account.

The buddy must be walk leader trained and the route to the walk should also be assessed. If this role is to be an extension to their role with the scheme then they should undertake the one day walk leader course and risk assess the route from the home to the walk.

There are no exclusions under the policy for participants being collected from their homes on foot. However please note that motor transport is not included.

There are no exclusions within the policy for participants using wheelchairs. Scooters would be included, except for any liability which should be provided by the user’s own cover, for example Road Traffic Act or household liability insurance. However, the insurers strongly recommend that appropriate risk assessments are carried out, with appropriate questions answered relative to the participant’s ability and safety in completing a walk.

This is not an insurer requirement but is considered best practice by Walking for Heath.

The ‘In Case of Emergency Cards’ are used by schemes, and are held by the walkers themselves if needed for reference. It is not the responsibility of walk leaders to know what medications walkers are taking but it is good practice for them to ask walkers to advise if they have any concerns about their health.

These can be obtained from the website. Some schemes use these cards as their pass on the walk and automatically show these to the leader. This is just one example of how they are used.