Getting Public Liability Insurance for Paranormal Groups – Our Experience & Advice!
I am a founder member of Birmingham Investigators of the Unknown which a non profit paranormal investigation and research group based in the Midlands.
It’s becoming increasingly important these days for any reasonable paranormal group to obtain public liability insurance. Some groups avoid this completely by keeping the group amongst friends who agree that they are attending investigation entirely at their own risk, but I’m not convinced this type of agreement is watertight and legal, especially if any member of the group had an accident and still wanted to sue for damages. Even if the group consists of close friends who would never sue, they are still taking a risk when attending private locations as the group is liable and not covered for any damages and worse still are not covered if any private client or external person had an accident during an investigation. If a paranormal group wants to take out members of the public or even other new members, then public liability insurance becomes even more of a necessity as otherwise they would not be covered for any accidents or legal proceedings against any particular member or the organisation.
The problem we had when phoning around for public liability insurance was that most insurance companies didn’t recognise paranormal investigation groups and it was therefore very difficult to make the insurance legal when the paranormal, psychic abilities or indeed ghosts and spirits don’t even exist as far as the law is concerned. Also if someone goes into trance (allows a spirit to speak through them), what would happen if the person became violent and actually harmed another person?
When a person is in full trance and is taken completely over by a spirit, the person usually doesn’t remember anything and the spirit can be in total control, after the spirit leaves the trance medium, he / she then regains full conciousness. Here is the big problem, because in the eyes of the law trance mediumship doesn’t exist, if a trance medium harmed another person during full trance, the law would simply consider that person harming another person and NOT a spirit controlling a trance medium. If in a court of law one attempted to argue that the trance medium wasn’t in control of his / her actions because of a spirit controlling them, they wouldn’t get anywhere what-so-ever and at best the person would be declared as not of sound mind. This is a major worry for trance mediums and there’s no sure way to cover oneself completely no matter what insurance is obtained. The best a paranormal group can possibly do is ensure they are covered by the best public liability insurance possible as well as getting all the members sign a document stating that all paranormal investigations are performed at thier own risk and that everyone understands the risks involved of trance mediumship and agrees not to press charges in the event of being harmed by someone in full trance. For this to work at all it’s very important everyone trusts each-other fully as if a member decided to press charges anyway, this document wouldn’t stop them. Unfortunately it the best any paranormal group can do unless they simply doesn’t use trance mediumship at all, but even then it’s possible for someone to be affected by a spirit unexpectedly. It’s certainly not water tight even if members refuse to press charges as the law still overrides this type of document and if someone was very seriously hurt and required an ambulance, the police could still pursue criminally charging the trance medium involved themselves. The document also doesn’t cover the trance medium if he / she hurts someone outside the paranormal group, so it’s an even greater risk to allow anyone else around trance mediumship. I think it’s a terrible situation as there’s no way trance mediums can cover themselves within the law and I believe there’s various people locked away that committed violence while taken over by a spirit where they weren’t in control, but I know this opinion is extremely controversial.
Many insurance companies that didn’t recognise paranormal groups quoted an arm and a leg for public liability insurance that often wasn’t even suitable. We have found one insurance company however that actually recognises paranormal groups and charge an affordable, reasonable price, but they are not perfect by any means and only appear to modify a standard insurance policy to accommodate paranormal groups. Another worrying problem was exceptions to the policy (please read the schedule carefully), but we found it totally impossible to insure every single eventuality no matter which insurance company we used. We therefore had no choice but to settle by being 90% insured which is unfortunately the best I believe any paranormal group can achieve unless perhaps they are willing to spend a fortune on insurance or maybe if they operate ridiculously strictly, which means no trance mediumship for a start. The company we used is called Blackfriars Group. In March 2009 we was quoted £133 a year to cover up to 4 members and £166 a year for up to 8 members, this was for the minimum of up to £1,000,000 of public liability cover. Please note however that it is possible to negotiate with the company as we managed to get 4 people covered for just under £100 and our policy is open to adding additional members if required, obviously for an extra cost.
Once you have brought public liability insurance it’s very important that you read and check the insurance schedule very carefully as it states exactly what is covered and what isn’t. If you aren’t happy with the policy, you are legally entitled to cancel within a 14 day cooling off period, although the insurance company is entitled to charge for the time you have already been insured plus a reasonable administration charge. It’s recognised that the administration charge shouldn’t be more than £10. If any insurance company refuse to honour this legal requirement or if they try to charge ridiculous administration fees, please tell them the law and if they still refuse, you can contact The Financial Ombudsman for help.
For paranormal public liability insurance please see:
Blackfriars Group or call them on 01270 767327.
(UPDATE 23/03/10: PLEASE ALSO SEE COMMENT BELOW FOR OTHER ALTERNATIVES)
(Please note that I am NOT an agent for Blackfriars Group, I make absolutely nothing if you choose to use them and therefore this document is completely unbiased in every way.)
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