Lifeguards play a vital role in ensuring the safety of individuals in aquatic environments such as swimming pools, beaches, water parks, and lakes. These expert swimmers’ primary responsibility is to prevent and respond to water-related emergencies in public swimming areas.

By maintaining constant vigilance over the bodies of water and surrounding areas they are responsible for, they identify potential hazards, observe swimmers’ behaviour, and look out for signs of distress or danger.

Like any other professionals, lifeguards face certain liability risks ensuring water safety. While they’re trained to prevent accidents and respond to emergencies, unexpected situations can arise. For example, they can be liable if:

Why lifeguards and swim instructors need insurance

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  • They fail to recognize signs of distress or danger in the water or delay taking appropriate action that results in injuries or fatalities.
  • They neglect their duty by not adequately monitoring the area they’re responsible for or failing to enforce safety rules, and an incident occurs.
  • They make an inadequate or negligent rescue attempt that harms or injures a swimmer.

That’s why all lifeguards should have a lifeguard and swim instructor insurance policy.

What Does Lifeguard Liability Insurance Include?

At a minimum, all full- and part-time lifeguards should have professional liability insurance and general liability insurance.

Professional liability insurance, commonly called errors and omissions (E&O) insurance, covers you for claims of professional negligence, mistakes, and failing to provide proper instruction. For instance, it covers costs arising from allegations of inadequate supervision, incorrect rescue techniques, or failure to provide appropriate care.

General liability insurance covers you for third-party bodily injury or property damage allegations that arise while you’re on duty. It can cover an injured swimmer’s medical expenses and your legal defence costs, settlements, or judgments if you are sued.

There may be other coverages you need to add to your policy. Speak to a licensed Zensurance broker if you have questions about the coverage you need.

10 Ways Lifeguards Can Minimize Their Liability Risks

Here are 10 ways for lifeguards to minimize their liability risks:

1. Stay vigilant and attentive

Maintain constant awareness of your surroundings and actively scan the water and surrounding areas. Promptly identify potential hazards or signs of distress to prevent accidents from occurring.

2. Follow established protocols and procedures

Adhere to your organization’s guidelines and protocols regarding surveillance, rescue techniques, first aid procedures, and emergency response. 

3. Maintain proper certification and training

Keep your lifeguard certifications up to date and participate in regular training sessions to enhance your skills and stay current with safety practices. Ongoing training ensures you have the knowledge and abilities to handle emergencies effectively.

4. Communicate clearly and effectively

Establish clear communication with both fellow lifeguards and swimmers. Communicate safety rules, warnings, and any changes in conditions effectively to ensure everyone is informed and aware.

5. Enforce safety rules and regulations

Be proactive in enforcing safety rules and guidelines to minimize risks. Address any unsafe behaviour promptly, such as running on slippery surfaces, diving in shallow water, or other activities that could lead to accidents.

6. Document incidents and observations

Keep detailed records of incidents, accidents, or near-miss situations. Documenting such occurrences helps establish an accurate record and can be valuable in future investigations or legal proceedings.

7. Regularly inspect and maintain equipment

Conduct regular inspections of rescue equipment and ensure it is in good working condition.

8. Stay up to date with water safety knowledge

Continuously educate yourself about water safety practices, first aid techniques, and CPR/AED procedures. This knowledge equips you with the necessary skills to respond effectively in emergencies.

9. Stay fit

Regularly engage in physical exercise and training to maintain your fitness and swimming abilities so you can perform rescues with agility and endurance.

10. Seek guidance from supervisors and managers

Consult with your supervisors or managers whenever you have questions or concerns regarding safety protocols, risk management, or liability issues.

How to Get Low-Cost Lifeguard Liability Insurance

Get the comprehensive lifeguard liability insurance you need through Zensurance.

Fill out our online application for a free quote in just a few minutes. Our experienced brokers can get the low-cost policy you need, customize it to suit your specific needs, and advise you on the coverage limits the policy should have.

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About the Author: Shelly Petrie

Shelly Petrie is a Team Lead, Digital Solutions Team, Zensurance.