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How do company sports teams affect my insurance rates?

There are a ton of advantages to starting a company sports team, such as more camaraderie, learning to work as a team, and more fun at work, etc. However, there can be drawbacks too. One question many have is how do company sports team affect insurance rates. So, let's take a look at how a company sports team could affect your insurance:

What happens, if your office manager drops a bowling ball on her foot while bowling for the company team? Is she eligible for workers' compensation?

What if a fight erupts at a softball tournament and a spectator gets hurt?

Or what if someone brings alcohol to an after-game party and a drunken employee hits a pedestrian on the way home?

With the above circumstances, whether the question concerns workers' comp for employees injured in a company-sponsored game or liability for the injuries of a third party, the basic question is the same: How closely is the company tied to the team or the sporting event, and does this tie effect insurance?

So, to determine if your insurance is going to be affected by having a company sports team, ask yourself the following questions:
- Are the games on the employer's premises?
- Are employees expected to play or asked to build relationships with customers on the playing field? In effect, is playing on the team part of the employees' jobs?
If the answer to these questions is yes, then your company sports team will certainly affect your insurance rates. Because playing becomes a part of the job description, the likelihood of injury on the job increases, and thus your insurance rates will likely go up.

However, if you answer no, then it won't likely affect your insurance rate. If you organize it, but that is it, then that is where your insurance responsibility ends.

These decisions were not made by the insurance companies per say, in fact, they were decided by the courts. The following are 2 cases where an employee playing on the company softball team hurt their knee. In one case, worker's compensation had to pay, and in the other, they didn't. Let's take a look at why:

In case one: the employee learned during his job interview that he'd be expected to play on the company softball team. The company paid nearly all its team's expenses, including uniforms, bats, gloves, weights and other equipment, plus air fare, hotel accommodations, meals, drinks and fees for tournaments around the country.
The employee got hurt, applied for compensation, and while the company tried to fight it, the employee won compensation. The court awarded it because of the company's extensive involvement with the team. Work schedules were routinely adjusted to accommodate softball practices and games. When team members missed work for practices or games, the company never docked their pay - and it even paid overtime to coworkers who filled in. Playing softball was effectively part of the job.

However, in case two an employee was injured playing softball for his company-sponsored team, but he was denied workers' comp. Why? Well, the court noted that the team was organized through employee initiative, but all games and practices took place off the employer's premises, and all meetings, practices etc. were held during lunch breaks or when workers were off the time clock. So, although the company furnished uniforms, equipment and league dues, it never paid players or coaches.

So, how your company sports team will affect your insurance rate will depend heavily on the involvement of the company with the team. If playing is required, and you are paid for time spent practicing, etc. then your insurance rates will increase to meet increased risk. However, if you sponsor the team, and organize it, but everything takes place off premises and off the clock, then the individual insurance of each player would be responsible for any injury etc.

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