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Don’t let the risks outweigh the benefits of school-sponsored activities

February 1, 2016

Student safety is a top priority.

Head of Participant Accident Business Development

Mike Hughes is Head of Participant Accident Business Development for Zurich’s Accident and Health... About this expert

basketball players

Most parents encourage their children to get involved in school activities — participate in sports, join a club or volunteer in some capacity. It’s assumed that such activities will broaden a student’s horizons and help develop strong bonds with classmates. 

Schools and school districts typically require parents to sign a waiver allowing their child to participate in these programs, yet are they really giving much thought to injury risks associated with such activities? The possibility of emergency-room level injuries happening frequently to students is something schools and school districts are wise to consider. 

As the popularity of student activities, particularly sports participation, continues to grow, the statistics regarding student injuries are concerning:

Concussions, in particular, can be very serious. While the first hit can prove problematic, the second or third concussion can cause permanent long-term brain damage. Cumulative sports concussions are shown rel="noopener noreferrer" to increase the likelihood of catastrophic head injury leading to permanent neurological disability by 39 percent.

In order to help mitigate injuries, schools and school districts can employ the following tactics:

  • Ensure facilities are properly maintained and harmful exposures are addressed.
  • Make sure equipment provided is appropriate for the sport/activity and is fitted properly.
  • Warm up and stretch as appropriate before activities.
  • Make hydration and rest top priorities.
  • Have a certified trainer or training staff who can properly diagnose and provide initial treatment for injuries.
  • Document action plans for handling all potential injury-related scenarios.
  • Evaluate students’ performance levels when participating in the sport/activity and be aware of specific medical needs/concerns.
  • Ensure all school activities are properly supervised.

Regardless of how well a school is prepared, accidents can still happen as can the subsequent medical, emotional and financial burdens. Some injuries can run into the tens of thousands of dollars for a family, particularly with today’s higher deductible health plans.

One way to help alleviate this burden is for schools to offer student accident insurance coverage. This coverage can help parents limit their financial burden by offsetting high deductibles, co-pays and out-of-pocket expenses, even if a parent has primary medical coverage in place. In addition, student accident coverage can also help protect a school or school district from potential lawsuits brought by parents.


The information in this publication was compiled from sources believed to be reliable for informational purposes only. All sample policies and procedures herein should serve as a guideline, which you can use to create your own policies and procedures. We trust that you will customize these samples to reflect your own operations and believe that these samples may serve as a helpful platform for this endeavor. Any and all information contained herein is not intended to constitute advice (particularly not legal advice). Accordingly, persons requiring advice should consult independent advisors when developing programs and policies. We do not guarantee the accuracy of this information or any results and further assume no liability in connection with this publication and sample policies and procedures, including any information, methods or safety suggestions contained herein. We undertake no obligation to publicly update or revise any of this information, whether to reflect new information, future developments, events or circumstances or otherwise. Moreover, Zurich reminds you that this cannot be assumed to contain every acceptable safety and compliance procedure or that additional procedures might not be appropriate under the circumstances. The subject matter of this publication is not tied to any specific insurance product nor will adopting these policies and procedures ensure coverage under any insurance policy.

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