Quest to Be Insured

by Michael Wear, PCI #516T/EMSCI #059T
Metropolitan (DC) Police Department
IPMBA Education Director

IPMBA is a training organization noted for high-quality, up-to-date techniques, tactics, technology and professional standards.  As the Education Director for our organization, I strive to keep current with what’s new and what’s hot!  I rely heavily on members letting me know about exciting opportunities for training.  IPMBA strives for innovation in the classroom, practical exercises and field applications as well as to provide services and resources. 

I am a long-time instructor, not only for IPMBA, but also for practically every place I have been employed.  My job list is long (I do get bored easily), but to name a few:  paperboy, drill sergeant, police supervisor, dishwasher, vehicle skills instructor, camp counselor, and, of course, IPMBA Instructor Trainer.  In most of these instances, there has been a distinct advantage of working as a subordinate authority; meaning that if something happened, the subordinate authority had a process or higher authority to seek care and treatment of an individual who was injured, hurt, or permanently disabled.  There was viable support for the burden of liability.

When conducting training internally, as a member of a department which has sanctioned and approved both the individual as an instructor and the instructional material, any incidents during a training session are generally considered “Performance of Duty”.  When placed on loan to another agency, the loaning agency covers the individual on loan; it is their duty assignment.  The sponsoring agency provides coverage to their members.  But what if an instructor wanted to conduct the training on their own for payment? 

When IPMBA began authorizing qualified instructors to deliver the IPMBA Bicycle Response Team (BRT) Training independently of the conference (as has long been the case with the Police, EMS, and Security Cyclist Courses), I found myself in a dilemma.  The BRT training is “hot”, “fresh”, and in demand.  If I venture out on my own to offer this training, I am no longer a “subordinate authority.”  As a contractor, vendor, or small business owner, I assume the role of the higher authority, and as such, need to be more concerned with liability.  How, therefore, can I protect myself, and can  I afford the insurance? 

The question is not new and through the years many avenues have been explored, most of which have led to dead ends.  In most instances, either the coverage has been cost-prohibitive or it has precluded training that takes place outside of a secure training environment due to the   third-party exposure.  One has to conduct a lot of for-profit courses to cover the cost of a typical insurance policy, if you can find an applicable one.  Obtaining insurance on a per-event basis can be a more affordable option for those instructors who conduct for-profit classes only occasionally. 

When browsing the USA Cycling website, IPMBA director Maureen Becker discovered that USA Cycling offers its coaches the option to purchase insurance for instruction, not just events.  She contacted former IPMBA Instructor Steve McCauley, USA Cycling’s Development Foundation Director, who put her in touch with Kevin Dessart, the Coaching Education and Athlete Development Director.  After lengthy conversations with both Dessart and a representative of Willis Insurance, it was determined that IPMBA Instructors could obtain coverage through USA Cycling by becoming licensed coaches.

The insurance covers bodily injury and property damage, including participant legal liability coverage; personal and advertising injury, including libel, slander and defamation of character; and professional liability for sports instructors.  The base fee is currently $200 per calendar year (January 1-December 31, not pro-rated).  It is applicable to all coaching activities, such as one-on-one instruction, classes/course/clinics, and writing lesson/training plans, but not to competitive or recreational events. 

A licensed coach can purchase insurance that provides coverage for the training event participants, support personnel and leader/instructors.  In order to be insured, the coach must obtain a USA Cycling permit for the training course.  The permit fee is $50 for 1-3 days and $100 for 4-30 days, with a $2 per rider per day insurance surcharge.  Permit applications received less than eight weeks in advance are subject to late fees, which increase as the lead time decreases. 

In addition to the permit fee, there is a participant (one-day license) fee for training of $5 per student, per day, which does not apply to holders of USA Cycling annual licenses.  Licenses may be purchased online in advance or on the day of the course.  The fees can add up depending on the number of students in the class, so it is recommended that you build the permit and license fees into the cost of course, in addition to IPMBA membership and certification/certificates of completion.

For Instructors interested in instructor development as well as insurance, becoming a USA Cycling Coach is a terrific option.  The program requires continuing education and offers many different ways to achieve credit.  There are webinars, clinics, on-line class and workshops opportunities available to gain continuing educational credits.  This quest for insurance can lead to a place where instructional development and growth are the priority.

In my personal quest, I ventured through the USA Cycling website (http://www.usacycling.org) and discovered an in-depth program focused on cycling competition.  As public safety cyclists, we may or may not be a part of that community.  In keeping with the high standards set by USA Cycling, it was not an easy and quick process.  The certification took over a month to complete, with each step taking a few days.  The time from my initial application to receiving my first insurance policy was about 60 days.  However, with some good planning and understanding of the system, I believe it could be done in less than 14 days.  Take the time to read through the process, study (especially if you are not an experienced competitive cyclist), and take notes during the exam; there is a retake process.  Missed steps or moving too quickly will result in delays.  Take your time during the exam; it is long.  You can save the test and return to it; however, once you leave a page, you cannot return to change answers.  You have 14 days in which to complete the test.

The sidebar at right contains a quick summary of the process, which can also be found at https://www.usacycling.org/steps-to-becoming-a-coach.htm. ; During my quest all the personal contacts and correspondence were timely and professional.  The staff understood my lack of experience and walked me through all the steps of obtaining the insurance.  If you decide to participate in the process, feel free to contact me directly at sgtwear@msn.com and I will share more of my personal quest!

How to Become a USA Cycling Coach

1)    Order Introduction to Coaching Cyclists.  Email coaches@usacycling.org to request the manual and access to the Level 3 Exam.  Be sure to indicate that you are with IPMBA. [Fee:  $35 as a PDF, waived for IPMBA members.]

2) Read and study Introduction to Coaching Cyclists.

3) Take the Level 3 Exam online.  A score of 80% or better is passing.  If you score less than 80%, you may retake the test after 14 days have passed.  Please see Directions for Taking the Level 3 Exam Online for more information on this process.

4) Complete the Coaching License Application and Risk/Media Waiver and send it to USA Cycling via coaches@usacycling.org, fax to 719-434-4325 or regular mail to USA Cycling, Coaching License Application, 210 USA Cycling Pt, Ste. 100, Colorado Springs, CO 80919. [Fee:  $95 for one year; $170 for two years.]

5) Review and complete a Criminal Background Check.  This is required even if you have a current employment background check. [Fee:  $22, good for two years.]

6) Your Coaching License will be issued* only after you have passed the Level 3 Exam, your completed and signed Coaching License application and Risk/Media Waiver are received, and the Criminal Background check is cleared and received by USA Cycling.  *Allow 3-4 weeks.

7) You have sixty (60) days from the time your coaching license is issued to complete the required SafeSport Training, an online training program teaching how to recognize, prevent, and take action against misconduct in sport (available at http://training.teamusa.org/).  Any coach who does not complete the training within the sixty days, will have their license suspended pending completion of the SafeSport training.  [Fee:  free]

Start-Up Costs:  Manual ($0) + Background Check ($22) + One-Year Coach’s License ($95) + Base Insurance ($200) = $317

Cost of Three-Day, 10-Person Course:  Permit Fee ($50) + Insurance Surcharge (10 people x 3 days x $2/person = $60) + Student License Fee (10 people x 3 days x $5/day = $150) = $260

Mike is a 23-year veteran of the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington DC.  He was one of the first members of the MPD Mountain Bike Unit in 1992 and was on the first Civil Disturbance Squad on July 4, 1995.  In 1997, he became the first city-wide mountain bike coordinator and training supervisor.  He discovered IPMBA in 1998 and has been a dedicated member ever since.  Employing his experience and knowledge into the professional cycle training offered by IPMBA enabled him to be certified as an Instructor in 2001 and an Instructor Trainer in 2008.  He also teaches EVOC, MC, Segway, firearms, marksmanship, CIO, patrol rifle, and CDU. His motto is, “Ride Hard, Ride Safe, and Thanks for Coming Out!”  He can be reached at sgtwear@msn.com.

(c) 2015 IPMBA.  This article appeared in the Fall 2015 issue of IPMBA News. 

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