The Insurance mmm-BOP

Rarely do you ever see the words “insurance and “surf-shop owner in the same sentence. When charting our course to open or expand our businesses, we retailers would rather focus on location, merchandise, advertising, and customer service.

Entrepreneurs are like explorers ready to set off on a course—as much laden with dreams and visions of accomplishment as with the essentials that make for a safe journey. Unfortunately, insurance is one of those essentials often relegated to the bottom of the list.

Today’s insurance environment has created a market for prepackaged Business Owners Policies (BOP) that cover most major property and onsite business risks. You as a surf shop owner probably are insured with a form of BOP.

BOPs often include: property insurance for building and content owned by your company; business interruption insurance, which covers the loss of income resulting from a fire or other catastrophe that may affect your business; and liability protection—which is used to cover your company’s legal responsibility for the harm it may cause others. This could include employee negligence, defective products, faulty installations, or errors in services provided.

While BOPs are cost effective, many surf-shop owners may want to be sure they have other aspects of their business covered as well—professional liability, worker’s comp, disability, and specialty events just to name a few.

One of the main insurance concerns brought to the attention of the Board Retailers Association (BRA) is insurance for surf schools and surf lessons. For years, surf lessons have been almost an afterthought. College students on their summer break or maybe even the occasional hands-on lesson from the owner themselves have introduced the excitement of our sport to thousands of young enthusiasts. These lessons—and more formalized surf schools—are essential to the future growth of our sport. They’re also a great way for a core shop to gain a customer for life.

But at what risk to your company? Are you insured for off-premises lessons and are your current liability limits sufficient to protect you and your business should an accident occur? Protecting yourself from lawsuits should be a priority in any business venture. Therefore, it’s a detail that must be addressed when operating a surf school or giving surf lessons.

Insurance is a bottom-line expense, so it’s vital to obtain the best value for your insurance dollars. That means getting the best combination of coverage at the most reasonable price. Unfortunately, finding an insurer willing to cover a surf school or surf lessons (at any price) can frequently be a challenge.

BRA has worked through these insurance issues and has found a good solution. The BRA Business Insurance Program gives retailers access to a surf school/surf lesson insurance program that offers the following coverage: one-million dollars of general liability coverage—required by most municipalities who give you access to their beachfront. This coverage provides you with an attorney to defend you and pays on your behalf up to one-million dollars should someone other than your student or employee be injured. (For example, if a board hits a swimmer.)

The program also provides 25,000 dollars of coverage for sexual abuse and molestation charges. This defends your company—not the employee—against these claims. Considering the proximity of student and teacher, inadvertent actions can be misinterpreted.

It also provides 25,000 dollars of coverage should a student be injured and sue you, and 10,000 dollars of participant accident coverage, where the insurer pays the student or the student’s family if he or she is injured or dies.

The cost for coverage such as this usually runs from 2,500 to 3,000 dollars for programs with up to 500 students a year. It provides the coverage you want and need at a price that can easily be added to the instructional fee.

Another thing to consider when operating a surf school is tthe use of a Hold Harmless Agreement and Waiver of Liability. BRA has posted on its Web site a sample of such an agreement. If you use our sample as a guide, we strongly recommend that you have it reviewed by an attorney in the state in which you operate. Laws vary from state to state, and these samples may or may not be applicable in your particular state._________________

For further information about the BRA Business Insurance Program and surf school insurance, go to and click on “Get a Quote For Board Retailers on the left side of the front page. For more information on the Board Retailers Association and other programs designed to help surf shop owners, please visit this nonprofit trade association at or call (910) 509-0109 ext. 112.