You can’t buy insurance after the fire

The arrival of May means educators and students awaiting their well-deserved summer break will not need to wait much longer. As education employees, we know that summer doesn’t always mean a “break” for educators. Many teachers will lead summer-learning programs, participate in professional development opportunities, take college graduate courses, oversee summer weight-lifting programs, or even travel with students on school-sponsored trips.

I vividly remember watching my daughter Ali sing with her high school choir in Washington D.C. in the summer of 2007. It was her junior year and Ali and her classmates were in the care of Fremont choir instructor Mark Harman.

Giving students opportunities to travel for educational-related events like this one goes a long way in helping them develop life and social skills.

For the educators who help create these opportunities, there are also legal risks. Mark is a long-time Fremont Education Association member and because of this he can travel with the peace of mind that whenever and wherever he is traveling for a school-sponsored trip, he is covered by the Association’s liability protection.

All of our NSEA members are protected through the NEA/NSEA Liability Policy. Your coverage is worldwide and includes coverage on and off school grounds. Your liability protection is in force 24 hours a day, as long as you are performing your educational employment activities.

I suspect most of you who are reading this article may already know about this important benefit that comes with your NSEA membership. My intent for focusing on liability coverage this month is to encourage you to reach out to your education colleagues who are not NSEA members and let them know that the time to join NSEA is now, through our Early Enrollment period.

What is Early Enrollment?
NSEA’s Early Enrollment period is April 1 through August 31. Potential members can join NSEA at no cost during this time. They will receive liability insurance from the date of signing, have access to member-only professional development opportunities offered by NSEA, and have access to the services of NSEA staff to answer questions. Former members are also welcome to join during this time. While access to an attorney is not part of Early Enrollment benefits, Early Enrollment signees may have access to an attorney for incidents that occur when their contract for the 2022-23 school year begins.

It Can Happen to Anyone
The liability potential can be serious for public education employees. As an educator, being well-liked by your administration or having good relationships with students and parents doesn’t mean that you are exempt from risk. It can happen to anyone.

During my time as Advocacy Director, I once answered a late-night call from a frantic music instructor who said that a child was missing from her bus. The teacher had taken two or three buses of band students from northeast Nebraska to Lincoln to play for the state tournament. After the event, she took roll on every bus. They were halfway back when she learned that a student was missing from one of the buses. Before contacting me, the instructor called her principal and the student’s parents. She would later learn that the student got off the bus after she had already taken attendance and that nobody had reported it. The student had left intentionally. The student’s parents eventually confirmed their child was safe and with friends.

The member had done the right thing by taking roll and calling her principal right away. She didn’t receive any discipline for the ordeal. It’s a good reminder of how quickly life can change when something goes wrong. It was the best-case-scenario in a worst-case-scenario kind of situation. When you’re sponsoring students there is always a liability risk—period.

You can’t buy insurance after the fire
NSEA recognizes the importance of liability protection and it’s just one of many benefits of membership provided at no additional cost to our members. You can’t buy insurance after a fire and if you wait until you find yourself in a legal mess it will be too late for NSEA’s help. To protect your career and good name, the time to join NSEA is right now.