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Liability Insurance

For CUPE Part-Time Contract Employees


Liability Insurance is something that most people don’t think about in carrying out their duties under a CUPE contract with Trent University.  However, there are a couple of considerations of which CUPE members should be aware.

Liability Insurance covers the person in the event they make a mistake in providing information in teaching, or similar such circumstances.  It is doubtful that a person would be covered for criminal negligence.  This would occur when the person knowingly says or does something detrimental to the student.  It could simply be career guidance, but if you know it to be false and still do it, it could very well back fire on you.  Be very careful if you believe you might be in a conflict-of-interest with a particular topic.  This could happen if you are pursuing a particular career choice and you steer the student in a different direction to lessen competition against you.

Any one who is a member of a Teir 1, Self Regulating, Provincial Act, Professional Business Association is required to carry Liability Insurance for any work that they do within the field of their expertise, whether it is paid work or voluntary.  Typical of these associations are, Professional Engineers of Ontario, Chartered Accountants, Human Resources Professionals, Lawyers, and Healthcare Professionals.  There are plenty of others.  Each of these Self Regulating Associations have a set of By-Laws and a Code of Professional Conduct which a member is required to adhere to in the practice of their discipline.  Stepping outside of these pieces of legislation can find you in serious trouble.

Members of a Self Regulating Professional Association are covered by their employer’s Liability Insurance Policy.  When asked to prove your Liability Insurance Coverage, you simply ask the appropriate person within the company for a copy of the Declaration of Liability Insurance, a single page document specifying that you are covered and to what limit you have coverage.  Two million dollars is not uncommon. 

It is more problematic when the association member is self-employed or doing voluntary work outside of employment.  In these cases, a member may need to purchase their own Liability Insurance Policy which they can then present to the Association when requested to do so.  Failure to have such a policy is a violation of the Association’s governing documents and that in itself can lead to disciplinary action.  Lack of Liability Insurance is not something to be dismissed from the mind or taken lightly.  The consequences of not having it can be career crippling.

So, where does this leave a Trent CUPE Part-time Contract Employee?  This person is neither a full-time employee of Trent covered automatically be the University’s policy.  Some CUPE Members are self-employed using several contracts to create a career path for future endeavours.  The good news is that Trent University does provide Liability Insurance Coverage for CUPE Members under contract, for the period of the contract.  In order to obtain a Declaration of Liability Insurance, contact the Director of Risk Management, Louise Fish, and she can provide you with the declaration for you to forward to whomever is requesting it.  Be aware though that it covers only what you do under the terms of the contract with Trent University.  If you sit on Boards, or volunteer for Community Agencies, Trent’s Policy does not cover you, unless it is a requirement specified in the contract.  It could quite well be that the particular Community Agency has Liability Insurance for its volunteers; many do.  Ask before you commit yourself to providing any kind of service to an agency.

Last modified: 14-Jan-15

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