By Doug Kerr, National Treasurer
                  (originally published in The Ensign)

Recently there have been some issues raised about potential liability 
with regard to the Vessel Safety Check (VSC) Program.  A few members 
are concerned about being named as defendants, along with USPS, in 
lawsuits based on alleged negligent performance of VSC examinations.  

As the National Treasurer I am responsible for USPS' insurance policies.  
So, with advice from the Law Officer, R/C Rice, and his staff, I will 
address these concerns.   

First, the VSC Program is a bona fide United States Power Squadrons 
activity.  Further, an analysis of the program shows that there is 
minimum risk of liability.  Also, there are substantial defenses 
available to defeat any related court action.  Remember that meeting 
the requirements for a VSC sticker only means that the vessel has on 
board the safety equipment referenced on form 204.  It does not 
guarantee the serviceability or adequacy of any equipment on board 
nor the seaworthiness of the vessel.

Second, your National Bridge and Operating Committee believe that USPS 
has adequate liability insurance to protect USPS, its districts, 
squadrons and members from potential litigation related to the VSC 
Program.  The existence of an insurance policy does not preclude the 
commencement of an action against a member or USPS.  However, our 
commercial general liability insurance policy will protect you and the 
organization if court action is commenced. Our insurance carrier will 
provide both a defense as well as indemnity to the extent of the policy 
limits.  Also, there is an appropriate amount of Directors' and Officers' 
insurance in place to cover national, district and squadron officers. 

Considering all of this, the fear of potential litigation should not 
deter members from participation in this fine program.  As in all 
activities, normal caution, common sense and, in this case, adherence to 
the VSC training manual will minimize any potential risk of claims.  Make 
sure to use the USPS version of form 204.  In that version, the owner/
operator specifically acknowledges that the award of the decal is not a 
warranty or guarantee of the skills of the operator or the seaworthiness 
of the vessel.
If you have further questions or comments, please contact me at Doug Kerr.
I hope that I have been of some help to you in this matter.

Also see Policies and Procedures


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