I had the newsletter from my club tonight. I admit I'm not an active member and only pay the subscription in order to benefit from insurance should I find time to get to a local rally with an engine for a day. Anyway, after some introductory sentences it concludes " ....it is with regret that we have to inform members that the club insurance does not cover any working exhibit including stationary engines when they are running"
So from my point of view membership is neither use nor ornament. Is this an isolated occurrence or are others having problems?
It is the first time I have heard of this in vintage machinery circles. The following although not directly linked, may give some idea of what has happened to Arthur's club cover. Last year, my brother in law who is a self employed agricultural engineer was told by his insurance company a few weeks before the renewal date that they were not renewing his public liability policy, even though in twenty plus years he had never made a claim. The reason stated by his insurer was that due to the large number of claims being generated in America by farmers who were claiming for crop loss due to machinery failure that the underwriters were pulling out of this market as it was no longer economically viable. It then took him six weeks to find another insurer. I will add at this point that we are taking about standard public liability cover, the insurance companies were just not interested in any new business from anyone in his line of work. The insurance companies appear to be going through the process of getting out of any business that does not generate a minimum percentage profit. I personally believe it is another case of the number crunchers taking control.
Does that surprise you? Insurance companies are in business to make a profit not as a social service. Personally I am amazed that we get insurance at such a cheap price. I'm sure if an insurance assessor actually visited a show, they would cancel the policy on the spot, particularly now that folks are showing B***Y great Merlins etc. Can you imagine the carnage if one of those got away?
I would hope that a qualified and sensible assessor would recognise that the issue is a tiny minority of idiots not the engines themselves. An engine is no more inherently dangerous than a knife or gun. As always it is necessary to consider not only the potential but the miniscule chance of it happening!!! regards Roland
No John it doesn't surprise me. My comment was based on the fact that a lot of insurance (and other) companies used to offer a good range of products/services and still make a reasonable profit. They now are now only interested in the ones that give the highest profit return.
Erm, at risk of being Pointed At, I wonder why we NEED Public Liability Insurance. At an event, we are separated from the public by a fence, rope, tape or other designatory mark. Unless the MoP steps over the rope, they are quite safe from the great majority of the risks involved with the demonstration of our Iron Charges.
I suppose a flywheel might depart its shaft, an aging Diesel may decide it likes the flavour of its lubricating oil, run away & spread itself across the landscape, but aside from such unlikely scenarios, the only people really at risk are us - and, at last, the High Court has come out on our side.
I quote .............. "Swimmers today won their High Court battle with "the nanny state" over "the right to take risks" and bathe in a natural pond on chilly winter mornings.
The legal challenge was brought by the Hampstead Heath Winter Swimming Club against the Corporation of London.
Last July the Corporation rejected the club's proposals for early morning, self-regulated swimming in the Mixed Pond on the heath in north London.
The club wants the pond reserved for the exclusive use of experienced club members during the winter season and not open to the public.
The Corporation's refusal was linked to safety fears and concern that it could be at risk of prosecution by the Health and Safety Executive.
Today Mr Justice Burnton ruled the Corporation had fallen into legal error and said swimmers should be able to swim at their own risk.
He spoke out in favour of "individual freedom" and against "a grey and dull safety regime" being imposed on everyone."
HURRAH for common sense. Not to be outdone, a certain First Lord of the Treasury, one Anthony Blair esk, said in public and on the record that " ..........people must understand that there is such a thing as an accident. Not every unfortunate incident is someone's fault."
So, someone tell me, why do we need insurance to demonstrate our engines at properly fenced rallies? I think we are encouraging them by apathy!
The real danger I can see looming is the coming need to prove ones' competence to operate the machinery at all. It would be OK if we could attend a one-day course at Internal Fire or The Anson, pay our £25, take a packed lunch, get a certificate run up in MS Word and all the tea you can drink. We could all have a jolly time together into the bargain - Lordy, some of us could teach it! However, Geoff & Paul will find that they too must prove they are "competent" in order to pass it on to others. Oh, look, a tin of worms .........
I presume the insurance also covers exhibitors who could perhaps damage themselves on an engine other than their own. Though one would hope we are not normally in the business of sueing each other, the lure of the increasingly ambulance chasing law firms could prove too strong for some.
I can see at some point exhibitors and attending public signing a waver to liability, as insurance will no longer be available. That won't stop people being safety concious, and organiser doing their best to maintain safety, but perhaps we will see an end to this claim culture. I for one would be happy to attend an event at my own risk, we do that every time we walk down the road, and so many other activities. What life, without risk...
One would have some difficulty in finding a solicitor to take the case if you were an exhibitor & tried to claim off a fellow exhibitor unless the negligence was especially blatant - I cannot think of a circumstance, myself.
John is absolutely right. In a letter to SEM in October of last year, I said this.
" Dear Gordon,
An important point was raised in conversation that I think merits a "heads up" letter in the correspondence columns. A gas turbine auxiliary power unit (APU) was repeatedly run up at the recent Yesterday's Farming event and it occurred to an onlooker that a catastrophic blade failure at a public event might have very dire consequences indeed as the turbine may well be spinning at 50,000 RPM. After all, the engine is being run bare and uncontained, something that no turbine is allowed to do now on modern jets.
Naturally, there are an ever increasing number of turbines about now and some of the older ones might well be forty or fifty years old and have been stored in very doubtful circumstances. Several Rover gas turbine pumps or generators have appeared on Ebay recently & sell for a few hundred pounds in running order. I know of one Derwent 8 that makes the occasional appearance that was retrieved from a scrapyard.
The point was made that whilst the insurance company would cover any damage etc to third parties, the premium would undoubtedly be much higher the following year and similar price rises would follow for all exhibiting clubs shortly after. Frankly, I think that any insurance company faced with a whacking great bill would want to examine the circumstances carefully before opening their corporate wallets and saying "help yourself". As things stand, it is certainly not a risk they signed up for and I urge all event organisers and club secretaries to inform their insurers that gas turbines might appear at their events in future.
Apart from any other reason they might find to hide behind, the rule of uberime fide ("of utmost good faith" ) would probably apply."
I send a WP'd version to my local club's committee.