Are You Insured?

Using personal vehicles for society business can present a liability.


by Mark Nelson, Insurance Chair

Here’s the scenario: You are into the first day of a two-day society show. One of your members is asked to drive his or her car on behalf of your society (e.g. moving supplies, doing errands, making coffee runs, etc.) and, while operating their vehicle, is involved in an accident and gets sued.

Clearly, the driver needs to have adequate limits of liability coverage under his or her own car insurance policy (since the California Federation’s policy does not extend any coverage to the owner or operator of a vehicle). But who else is likely to be sued?

Correct: your society and its members (just like an employer who gets sued because an employee is involved in an auto accident while on company time). Does your society have liability protection for such an accident and resultant lawsuit?

Well, maybe. If the rock and mineral society is not a member of the California Federation, then probably not, unless the society has gone out into the insurance market and purchased such insurance. However, if the rock and gem club is a member of the California Federation, then yes! Experienced defense attorneys and $1 million of liability coverage would provide for the cost of legal defense of the society and its members under a benefit called Non-Owned Auto and Hired Auto Coverage. Neither the society nor its members would have to pay a lawyer to defend themselves (win or lose!), let alone the huge problem that would result if the Society was ordered to pay monetary damages!

Just think of those rock and mineral societies that go it alone, without belonging to the Federation. It’s very likely that they may find themselves without this valuable coverage! This said, make certain that your society keeps its dues paid on time! This insurance coverage—and more—is paid for through our annual member dues.

As our societies and clubs plan for their annual shows, remember that most venues will require proof that the society has liability insurance to protect the building owner in the event that there is damage to the building or that someone is seriously injured while on the owner’s property. As long as the society is a member in good standing of the California Federation, the society can obtain this proof of insurance. Furthermore, if the function does not involve more than 500 participants or attendees, there is no charge whatsoever for having McDaniel Insurance Services issue such proof of insurance documents. A very nice benefit to us!

When you need to provide such proof of insurance you can find the forms on our Federation’s website, To avoid a charge for an expedited certificate, please allow plenty of time in advance of your event!

Outside of California, check with your regional federation to see what insurance options it offers.


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