Some Thoughts on Liability Insurance

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During the past show season, we received several letters in our Reflections column on the subject of liability insurance and the financial difficulty it imposes on engine clubs. Many clubs are able to take the cost in stride, though some actually stopped holding shows for this reason. In our Editor's Letter we asked for some reader response on the issue, and questioned whether some kind of national organization could be formed to enable clubs to qualify for a group insurance policy. What follows are excerpts from the response, and our conclusions.

Jack Versteeg, president of the National Early Day Gas Engine and Tractor Association, wrote to say that he has been working for some time to try to get a national policy for his group, which currently has 21 branches. He suggests that possibly if more clubs affiliated with NEDGE&TA, such a group policy could become a reality.

'I have found out,' he writes, 'that one of the requirements of the insurance industry will be a strong set of safety rules, such as stringent boiler inspections on the steam side, guard ropes around a gas engine display, alcohol on show grounds (none). Other factors to be considered are: type of show, steam alone, gas alone or both, where held, own show grounds, public park, fairgrounds or what.'

Jack adds that the monitoring of such a group policy will be quite a task with a lot of paper work. He promises to keep us informed of his group's progress in seeking their policy.

Mark Rembis of 2190 Buford-Bardwell Rd. in Mt. Orab, Ohio 45154 wrote to tell us about another organization he belongs to which has the kind of national federation which engine clubs might consider. He collects antique fire apparatus, and is secretary-treasurer of the Miles Greenwood Historical Fire Apparatus Society, in Cincinnati. This club is a chapter of the Society for the Preservation and Appreciation of Antique Fire Apparatus in America, which is headquartered in Syracuse, New York. Chapters may enroll in a national liability insurance program which covers all activities at a very reasonable rate.

Dave Semmel of Box 385 RD # 1, Pine St., Slatington, PA 18080 is an engine collector with other interests as well. He belongs to several Antique Auto Clubs which issue charters to regional clubs. The small newly formed engine club he belongs to was able to get the necessary liability coverage locally this year.

Richard Fourez, RR 2, Box 53A, Potomac, IL 61865, treasurer of the I & I Antique Tractor and Gas Engine Club, told what we imagined was a somewhat typical story. The club, which has 35 members and is 9 years old, has never had an accident or injury of any type. This year, when it was time to renew their policy, members were asked for detailed information on their various events. The result was a premium that was twice the annual income, and rather than pay it, they cut their participation to a minimum.

Richard and members of his club agreed that some kind of a national organization would be a help to them, and that more dissemination of safety information could be another function of such a group.

Wayne Schmidt, secretary of the Grease, Steam and Rust Association, P.O. Box 29, McConnellsburg, PA 17233 reported that his club supports efforts to find a solution to the liability insurance situation which has become a problem for his group as well.

John White, president of J. L. White Insurance, 156 Main St., Middleburgh, NY 12122 is treasurer of the Hudson-Mohawk Chapter, PGEA and is an insurance broker by profession. He thinks the concept of a national organization has tremendous potential, 'not only for group insurance but also group purchasing of many goods and services.'

John has offered to help in any way he can to further the interests 'of this great fraternity dedicated to the restoration and preservation of rural America's power and machinery of yesteryear.'

Our conclusion is, for the moment, that it might be a good idea to wait to hear more from Jack Versteeg about his efforts to get a policy for the NEDGE&TA. Considering that we send solicitations for directory listings each year to over 500 clubs and museums, the fact that we heard from only six may indicate that the need for some kind of national organization is not seen as pressing or critical at this time. Or, it may just mean our Editor's Letter is not widely read!

Our thanks to those of you who wrote, and we'll follow up in the future, when there is more to report.