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Risk Management 

Risk management: The identification, analysis, assessment, control, and avoidance, minimization, or elimination of unacceptable risks (BusinessDictionary.com)

Insurance Basics


  • A contract (policy) in which an individual or entity receives financial protection or reimbursement against losses. (Investopedia.com)
  • A promise of compensation for specific potential future losses in exchange for a periodic payment. Insurance is designed to protect the financial well-being of an individual, company or other entity in the case of unexpected loss. (Investorwords.com)


  • The information provided in this session serves as a resource to help 4-H Youth Development Councils better understand insurance basics. Extension staff members and 4-H Volunteers are NOT expected to be insurance professionals. It is HIGHLY recommended that an insurance professional be consulted for insurance questions specific to your situation.

Insurance Tips

  • Consult a trusted insurance professional for all insurance-related questions.
  • Read all insurance policies carefully and look for exclusions for events such as carnivals or fairs.
  • Read all contracts carefully; ask for attorney to review.
  • Avoid assuming responsibility for risks which you do not directly control.
  • Require proof of insurance from vendors, carnivals, etc. Name the 4-H entity, Purdue, Trustees of Purdue, County Commissioners, and Purdue Extension as additional insureds
  • Request an insurance audit from your insurance carrier annually to verify the policy is sufficient to cover all events and activities and to fill any gaps identified.
    • Inform insurance professional of all lease/rental agreements and any new events planned for the coming year.

Risks associated with property ownership or use

  • Injuries on owned premises from third parties (slips and falls)
  • Damage to 4-H entity-owned property from natural hazards (fire, wind, hail, etc.) as well as human element hazards like theft and vandalism.
  • Other liabilities associated with hosting events on the premises (lack of supervision, premises maintenance, or crowd control).
  • Contractual liability

Other general risks

  • Employment related risk - An employee sues alleging wrongful termination
  • Employee dishonesty - An employee embezzles money or property from the entity
  • Personal and advertising injury - Someone from your organization harms the reputation of someone else
  • Contractual liability risk - A contract you or your entity enters into may require you to take on certain liabilities
  • Event host liability risk - You or your entity may be found liable for the actions of others you invite to an event you host
  • Negligent supervision - You neglect to provide adequate supervision
  • Child molestation accusations
  • Actions by directors and officers - Negligent actions of directors and officers
  • Property damage to the property of others - You damage someone else's property in your care and control
  • Auto liability - Your entity owns or uses non-owned vehicles (i.e., borrowed trucks, tractors)

Types of Insurance

Liability for employees & volunteers working within the scope of their duties

  • Provided by Purdue University for its employees and approved volunteers
  • Protects individuals from claims that arise as a result of their service to programs offered by the University

Limited accident/injury coverage for 4-H members and approved volunteers

  • Provides limited coverage for medical expenses incurred as a result of an accident or injury from participation in a 4-H activity
  • Available via annual policy purchased by Indiana 4-H from American Income Life Insurance Company (AIL)
  • Special Activities policy may be purchased from AIL by local programs to provide coverage for activities such as overnight events or events held outside the county and non-4-H participants

Equipment and property damage or loss

  • Insurance coverage is the responsibility of each County
  • Purchased through local insurance carrier

Livestock/Animal damage or loss

  • There is no Purdue coverage for individuals whose animals injure someone else or whose animals are injured.
  • Individuals are responsible for the actions of their own animals (e.g., if your dog was to bite someone, you would be responsible for the damages caused).

Property liability

  • Property owner's insurance is in effect
  • If requested by property owner, the Extension Educator may request a Purdue Certificate of Insurance as proof of insurance for liability which may result from 4-H participation while on the property

Automobile property damage and liability

  • Personal vehicle policy is always primary
  • No coverage provided by the University

Private/School Bus liability

  • Certificate of insurance coverage provided by owners of the bus
  • No coverage provided by the University

Directors & Officers (D & O)

  • Provides protection for wrongful acts associated with the decisions and actions of the board, its directors, and officers.
  • Review this potential exposure with your local insurance professional.
  • Covers agreements and or contracts for services that have no direct bearing on the 4-H educational mission/purpose of the organization.
    • Examples of such agreements include, but are not limited to, carnivals, entertainment, food vendors, buildings, rental space/facilities, etc.
  • Directors may be held liable for the nonperformance of the organization.
  • Directors and officers may be held liable for claims made against the council at meetings and with the fair functions.
  • Board decisions may be seen as being made in a biased or unfair manner.  
  • All directors and officers can be held personally liable for the actions of any one person acting outside of his/her duty to the organization.
  • Ignorance is not a defense in many cases when someone (like a new member) isn't aware of any wrongdoing.

Bonding treasurers

  • Individuals who serve as the treasurer for county organizations such as 4-H Councils or 4-H Fair Boards should be bonded. 
  • Protects the organization from loss due to dishonesty and fiscal malfeasance.
  • Bonds may be purchased from a variety of bonding underwriters.
  • Address this issue and exposure with your local insurance professional to assess your organization's exposure.

Safety Plan

It is highly recommended that each 4-H Youth Development Council have a comprehensive safety plan that addresses basic steps to take in the event of an emergency situation at facilities and/or during events held throughout the year. This safety plan can be of tremendous help to staff and volunteers when information is needed to quickly and calmly handle an emergency situation. Our primary purpose is to keep all participants at 4-H-related events safe and healthy.

The components included in the safety plan will be determined in part by the roles and responsibilities of each 4-H Youth Development Council (e.g., whether or not the Council has responsibilities of a property such as a Fairgrounds or an event such as a Fair). Some components to consider include:

  • Weather Alerts
  • First Aid/Medical Emergencies
  • Fire
  • Lost Child
  • Civil Disturbances
  • Bomb Threat/Active Shooter
  • Protestors/Demonstrators
  • Emergency Veterinary Services
  • Emergency Amusements/Entertainment Shutdown
  • Emergency Phone Numbers

Several resources are available to help the 4-H Youth Development Council develop a suitable safety plan. Some of these include:

  • County Emergency Management Service
  • Local law enforcement agencies
  • School Corporations
  • Other County 4-H Youth Development Councils (an example is provided for the Carroll County 4-H Fairgrounds )

Volunteer Screening and Placement

The Purdue 4-H Youth Development Extension Educator in each county is responsible for screening each applicant that is seeking to serve as a volunteer for Purdue University and the Indiana 4-H Program.

The Educator is charged with following the policies outlined for volunteer screening and placement. The end goal is to help insure that we have adults working with the 4-H Program who have the best interests of the youth in mind.

Caring, capable and contributing adults assist in the 4-H program as role models for youth.

The support of the 4-H Youth Development Council is critical toward the success of the 4-H Educator in successfully meeting these responsibilities!

  • When members of the 4-H Youth Development Council have completed all of the required steps for volunteer approval, they lead by example for others who also wish to volunteer for the 4-H program.

Contact the 4-H Youth Development Extension Educator for more information.

Operating Procedures for Programs Involving Minors

Purdue University has campus-wide policies related to programs involving minors. These policies are designed to ensure the protection of minors who participate in any University-supported program or activity, including 4-H.

As a part of this policy,

  • Each Purdue Extension staff member and Adult 4-H Volunteer will complete the Minors Safety Training (every two years), which covers methods to help keep minors safe and guidelines related to the mandatory reporting of suspected cases of child abuse or neglect.
  • All programs for minors will be registered with the University.

Supervision of Youth

Always have at least two approved 4-H Volunteers with the group before the first child arrives until after the last child leaves.

Adults should not be alone in a room (or car) with a 4-H member that is unrelated to them.

There is no set ratio for adult/youth, because the best ratio depends on:

  • The type of activity
  • Number of participants
  • Age of participants

When in doubt, remember that more supervision is better than not enough!

Review the Child Sexual Abuse Risk Exposure Matrix  to help assess the level of risk for child sexual abuse present in the 4-H program.

Accessibility and Equal Opportunity

All 4-H programs fall under the federal guidelines for accessibility and equal opportunity.

It is the policy of 4-H to be an inclusive organization. No county policy or practice should be used to arbitrarily exclude youth from either membership or participation.

We should do all we can to ensure that 4-H programs are open to all youth in our community according to the Purdue Extension EEO statement .

Meeting and activity locations should be assessed to determine any physical barriers that may limit participation by individuals with physical limitations.

Refer to the Equal Opportunity  section of the Handbook for further information.

Risk Management Forms, Waivers, and Signage

Liability Release

  • Signed by each 4-H Member and Adult 4-H Volunteer at time of annual re-enrollment.
  • Contains specific language approved by Purdue University Legal and Risk Management Departments that may not be altered.

Accident/Incident Report Form

  • Documents any accidents or incidents that occur as a result of a 4-H activity.
  • Completed by Extension Educator with support of 4-H Volunteers and those involved in the accident/incident.

Health Form (Youth and Adult)

  • Includes health and emergency contact information for participants.
  • Generally kept by the Purdue 4-H Youth Development Extension Educator and shredded immediately following the event.

Field Trip and Activities Permission Form

  • Designed for parents/legal guardians to indicate their approval for a child or youth to attend a 4-H activity.
  • Separate forms available for 4-H member and non 4-H member.

Equine Liability Signs

  • Should be posted anywhere people are riding equine on the fairgrounds and at any equine business in the community.


  • The Purdue 4-H Youth Development Extension Educator will keep the Council apprised of additional forms related to risk management.