Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Surf life saving ... new rules for ocean swims ...

Surf Life Saving, with its insurers, are beginning to implement new rules for ocean swim events which would limit ages eligible to take part to 14 years and up, and limit distances to 2.5km. There may be some flexibility in this, but there still is considerable uncertainty about these new rules.

Surf's insurers also are planning to levy surf clubs $500 or thereabouts per event that they run, to attract the insurance coverage that they now receive as part of their general insurance coverage.

Surf club insurance coverage currently covers organising clubs for public liability and club members working on events for personal accident.

You can see the original story in the newsletter of March 13, 09 ... click here

What do you think about these proposed changes?

Click the Comments link below to post your comments ...


  1. re your article on insurance through Surf Lifesaving for ocean swims.

    Am I missing something here?

    Our Swim, the Gaol Break Swim at South West Rocks is run by the Surf Club and under the provisions of section 5M of the Civil Liability Act 2002, as I know other ocean swims are also run.

    The provisions of this act effectively place the factor of risk firmly on the competitor as the event is described as a ‘recreational activity’. For a full run down go to the entry form for the Gaol Break Swim, all of which was copied from the Big Swim with Ritchie Stewart’s kind permission, following legal advice concerning the legislation.

    Now given all of this, what is the issue with Surf Lifesaving and their insurers? What and who exactly is being insured, given that the competitors do not have any insurance under the provisions of the legislation. Competitors who require insurance cover are able to privately obtain cover should they desire to do so, but this would have nothing to do with Surf Lifesaving insurance.

    Mind you the legislation is probably flawed as it appears to directly contravene the Trade Practices Act, a point on which the legislators are uncharacteristically silent. The problem comes about because the Trade Practices Act requires that anyone who provides a product or service is required to provide a guarantee/warranty for the product or service. The section 5M specifically excludes this and thus there appears to be conflict between these two pieces of legislation. We will probably have to wait until there is a test case to unravel the contradiction.

    Now a further point. Has any one involved in an ocean swimming ever made a claim against the organisers of the event or Surf Lifesaving? Have any organisers had a claim made against them? To my knowledge the answer is no to both questions, if this is correct how on earth can the supposed insurers justify a loading on the premium and placing limiting conditions on the swim?

    Why is 2.5 kms ok but 2.6 kms is not, and what is the problem with under 14 swimmers when they require permission from their parents anyway, and who are required to agree that they are confident that the swimmer will complete the swim.

    We appear to be participating in an extremely safe sport which has a significant spin off to the public at large by providing a recreation that is both economical and beneficent to the health of the participants, facts which far outweigh the supposed risks involved.

    I invite any interested parties to comment,

    Ron Royle

  2. My guess is:

    Say a SLSC boat ran over a competitor and injured them. Then the SLSC would not be able to avoid their liability using the disclaimer if they were found to be negligent. If a competitor gets hit by a wave and has a heart attack and drowns then the disclaimer may help prevent the plaintiff from winning.
    What I do find amusing is that a company in London is insuring a beach activity in Australia. Pomes are experts in nothing let alone beach activities.

  3. Yes, I agree with your point that the IRB driver cannot avoid liablity and nor should he. However he is a SLS qualified driver on active patrol duty abiding by all of the SLS regulations and is therfore covered by normal SLS insurance. Remember he did not enter the event and did not sign his agreement to the 5M conditions. He is just on a normal patrol (if roving) on a day when there are an additional number of highly skilled swimmers at the beach.

  4. I may be missing some point ...I can't see the original doc anymore..however..
    In the case above a competitor may take action against SLSA/Loyds.. My point is that Loyds have increased their rates based on an increased risk assessment.i.e More people participating in ocean swimming races run by the Aust SLSC's they currently insure.
    Whilst the web site waivers attempt to disclaim liability it maybe wouldn't hold up in a case where negligence is proven against the insurers employee/volunteer.i.e Loyds would lose and have to pay a competitor for damages etc..Hence rates go up to cover this. Hence SLSA have taken a user pays approach and levy $500 per event. Which kind of kills off small swims. Which is also part of SLSA's strategy...i.e small swims..small club...less security....discourage them..I am guessing though...
    In saying all this negligence would be hard to prove given most people cant swim in straight lines anyway.....

  5. Aside from the dipensation of liability issues discussed above, why can't the SLSA give Lloyds the flick n find another insurer, preferrably a domestic one?

    Surely a local biggie like IAG (not the Seppo one, AIG that nearly went broke) could come to the party. It'd have to give their Aussie icon brand NRMA a good run in the meeja by taking a risk like this into their book. They could tie it in with their whole H.E.L.P. campaign which would sit nicely beside their CareFlight activities.

    Fair dinkum, how much could they really be up for if somethin went pearshaped anyway? It'd have to be no more than the change from their lunchmoney. Even if every clubby patroling every race on their planks on any given Sundy got munched by a pack of man-or-woman-eating sharks! They're used to underwritin natural disasters like cyclones n stuff, and that's gotta be a much more expensive proposition.

    Now, I goin by the mug spottin that Mr Os.c goes on with, I reckon that the big end o town is fairly well represented within the ranks of the Oceanswimming fraternity or sorority. So maybe some of you bigwigs could practise a bit of digitis extractus and pull a few strings to sort it. I'm sure that something can be done, hey?

    By the way, how pissed off must the aforementioned sharks be since the Bikies stole their meeja limelight? If any of youz Bikies do oceanswimmin, ya better watch out, I hear the sharks are filthy about it!

    David Love.

  6. This is a disturbing but expected trend from insurers.

    Yes we need to be mindful of the minimum age requirement, but surf clubs and organisers have done a good job with this to date.

    Australia's coastal community is a nation of competent swimmers from a young age as shown by surf clubs in training and nurturing nippers and by pool swim clubs in punching well above our population weight in international competition.

    We are lucky to have Oceanswims as a body to go in to bat for us and they will need all our support.

    Yes it does seem ludicrous that a London based insurer, whose members probably couldn't swim the length of a bath tub, are calling the shots, but we can work through this to ensure ocean swimming prospers.


Please use the drop down menu, Comment as, to attach your name to your blog.