Insurance for Car Wash Fundraisers

Non-profit groups in this day and age need to watch out for lawsuits, as it is an unfortunate reality. Having a good event insurance policy can protect your non-profits funds from such a lawsuit in the event of a mishap or professional slip and fall con artist. Yes they are out there and they will target your group if they think that they can make some money in a lawsuit. It is sad state of affairs even thinking of this, but you need to protect yourself and your group.


Usually a gas station has an umbrella insurance policy to cover just about anything even a special event, but not always. Sometimes they may have such a policy but be unsure of the exact coverage and therefore require you to get insurance for your event anyway. This gives them piece of mind knowing they are covered.

School districts have this type of insurance for all student activities already. You will usually see these types of events at the local high school through out the sunny seasons.

If you are at a commercial shopping center, you will most likely need general liability insurance for your event. 'Event Insurance' will probably run $50.00 to $75.00 but could be as high as $150.00 if additional insurance certificates are requested. Most shopping center property managers will want to re-assign the risk of liability. They will need a letter from the group, a diagram of the layout and washing area and insurance.

If you can provide these items, they will probably let you have your car wash fundraiser on their property. It's good public relations for the center and their tenants. They may also be concerned with the soaps you are using on their lot because resurfacing is expensive.

What kind of insurance should you ask for? Ask for 'event insurance' for a car wash fundraiser. The insurance agent/broker will ask you basic questions such as:

The date of the event

Hours of the event

Location of the event

How much money you anticipate making the day of the event

Will you be moving the cars?

How many certificates of insurance will you need?

Do you need additional insured certificates?

Some of these questions will be easy to answer such as who, what, when, where and how. You may not have thought about moving vehicles. Your answer should be yes even if you don't move any cars. If a person gets out of there car and leaves the key in the ignition and walks over to buy a soda or hot dog from your fundraiser, then theoretically you are in control of that vehicle. Legally speaking that vehicle is in your care, custody and control and this may require what is called a 'garage keeper's liability endorsement'. How much money do you expect to earn the day of the event?

This may seem like your group's business only, but some policies, even event policies, could be based upon gross sales. How many certificates do you need? You may not know this either. Obviously you need one for the property owner. After all, the only reason that you are talking to the insurance agent/broker is because they asked for one. You may want to think about this for a second.

As long as you are buying insurance, what about insurance for your group? You may as well get a certificate for them too. Do you belong to a national group? Maybe they are self-insured or already have insurance for such an event. This might save you some money provided that their limits of liability are in line with the requirements that the property owner has requested. Remember that the limits of liability required of your event are usually negotiable.

Gas station owners may settle for $100,000 single limit liability and $300,000 aggregate. If not, have your agent/broker do the work. They can reassure the property owners that the insurance carrier they will be going through is an A+ rated carrier and that they will be fully covered in the rare event of an accident. After doing one hundred plus car wash fundraisers without an accident, I'm confident recommending the $100,000/$30,000 limits. If the property owner will accept this, it's a good coverage number. However, if they want a million dollars of liability insurance you may have to get that instead. Of course it will cost more.

What are the additionally insured certificates? This is a certificate of insurance, a proof of insurance indicating that the property owner is insured by the insurance carrier also. This might be important because if someone is passing by and slips on the water and wishes to collect on a slip and fall injury claim, their attorney would rather go after the rich property owners rather than your non-profit group that has very little money.

If your group had hundreds of thousands of dollars you probably wouldn't be doing a car wash fundraiser in the first place. Since attorneys normally get thirty percent of the cash settlement in personal injury litigation cases, they try to go after the big money. If you are part of a national organization such as the Boy Scouts of America or the American Cancer Society then that part of your organization will also be a target, The attorney may not have a problem going after a non-profit. Because property owners and national organizations are frequent targets of slip and fall suits, it stands to reason that they might be a little paranoid.

If they are a little hesitant you must realize that it's not your fault. There are just too many lawyers. Property managers are hired by property owners to manage the affairs of their real estate investments. They handle such jobs as fielding tenant complaints, collecting rent and lease monies, maintaining the property and the landscaping and shielding property owners from unnecessary liability. So when talking to property owners assure them that you won't block traffic, won't take any more than the necessary amount of parking spaces or cause them to have any complaints from the tenants. As a matter of fact, you will probably increase traffic and your fundraiser will help business for the center's merchants. Let them know that you won't trample the landscaping. They may want a one-page letter stating all of this. Think on the insurance aspects for your upcoming fundraiser events.

"Lance Winslow" - If you have innovative thoughts and unique perspectives, come think with Lance;

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