View Full Version : New Subject - Insurance

August 27th, 2004, 11:49 PM
I am Chairman of the second largest LMSC. We just recently passed our largest membership ever, 2760. Yet we should be over 3500 right now.

Due to an insurance issue our largest team does NOT REQUIRE membership in USMS. They are very proud of going over 1000 members! Of that 185 are registered masters. Why is this?
I have long been friends with Clay Evans. But when he tells me he can get not only less expensive insurance but also BETTER coverage, this really upsets me. Do I blame him for not requiring USMS membership, YES and NO. He is in business, and he saves money. He is also head coach in the most law suit happy city in the USA. So with his dozens of assistant coaches and dozens of pools, he is getting better insurance rates that USMS is getting.

My concern is the other insurance group is using the great record of USMS to give SCAQ better rates. I am also very concerned that USMS is not getting better rates with forty times the members than SCAQ.

I am also very concerned that other teams could do what Clay has done. What if the 10 largest teams in PMS suddenly no longer required USMS membership? What about the largest 100 teams across the USA? We could suddenly be at 25,000 members and not be able to pay our bills.

Has members of the Insurance Committee questioned why Clay is getting a better rate? Has this been looked at?

August 29th, 2004, 12:39 AM
Is it optional for a USMS registered team (like the one you're talking about) to require the individual team member membership in the USMS?
Isn't taht in itself an incfease in the liability for the USMS, to have teams where some members are in USMS and others aren't?

Is the 'insurance' really an issue, or just a veil excuse for a different agenda?

Please educate me on this one?

August 29th, 2004, 01:46 AM
Without some form of insurance there would be no swimming, no workouts, no swim meets, no long distance events. There is no way I would ever coach without insurance. I am certified ASCA Level 5, have current CPR and First aid, water safety, and have coached for several years. This would all be better in court than many of the "coaches" in USMS. You can get out of the water and instantly become a workout supervisor. Many many small teams have this type of coach. It really doesn't matter where you are, you can be sued. You are truly lucky having a great coach.

You can search USMS web site and download the insurance forms.

I am not sure what you meant by
just a veil excuse for a different agenda? If you mean Clay having a different agenda, I am not sure what you have heard. Clay does what is best for Clay.

Like I have stated before, SCAQ getting lower cost insurance with more coverage is a concern. Many coaches across the USA look up to Clay. Both Clay and Bonnie have been USMS Coaches of the Year. They have built the largest swim team in the world, now over 1000 members. He has given talks at ASCA World Clinic on the economics of Masters swimming, very well attended.

There may be even a greater question than just insurance. Is SCAQ doing a better job serving his team members than USMS is doing with our mission statement. I am not sure if his insurance allows him to run swim meets. He uses USMS to certify swim and ocean events for competition.

USMS has a web site, SCAQ has one. USMS has a magazine, SCAQ has a newsletter. Bottom line Clay and Bonnie, the owners of SCAQ do great jobs serving their members.

My concern is again other great coaches that have teams over 150 members all started withdrawing their members from USMS and using private insurance for their workouts. This has gone on for several years now. Each year I continue to hear his lower cost.

August 30th, 2004, 01:09 AM
Oh, being in a professional field where Errors and Omissions and additional liability insurance is very critical and a business survival often hangs on it's ability to get and pay for insurance, I know well what you mean.

As for SCAQ, in a way it is a different agenda from the USMS. I don't mean to imply that in a negative way.
More in a way of what you suggested, we may end up having other talented coaches withdraw their teams/membership from the USMS because they may be able to get better service elsewhere, whether it's the issue of insurance alone or, I wonder if it doesn't have to do with more detail of how the organization is run. Having intelligent and talented people leave because they can get better service elsewhere is always a concern

More than once at swim meets I have overheard comments about what a shame it is that such a large and successful team as SCAQ is not more involved with USMS, as they have a lot to contribute. That's made me curious as to why.

As far as economics, I can see how the 'missing' 1000 swimmers definately affects the SPMA cash flow and the swim meets in the area.

I remain skeptical that insurance issue is the only motivator, even though I believe it may be very significant one. I'm curious as to what else may motivate the separation... not in order to judge, but to learn how our own organization can improve.

August 30th, 2004, 10:12 AM
Question should be directed to Board of Directors as a policy issue and Insurance Chairperson(Colleen) for technical issues.

I might be able to explain why Clay did it.

Just looking at my own team (20-30 people), to be a USMS insurance covered practice - 100% of the swimmers must be registered with USMS (or be in the trial period). How many of us can say that? I never know when people re-up their registration - except when it comes time for a meet. With a team his size and scope (many pools and many coaches) - I would want to be covered from the time they walked thru the gate - and he has that, because his coverage is the moment they join his practice. And it is his job to collect the insurance fees as a part of the overall fees.

I am not positive, but his insurance covers just practices - USMS insurance covers practices AND meets.

It has been my calculation that 10% (could be as high as 20%) of the swimmers compete and the rest are workout/social swimmers - so like Clays team (fyi same percentage of competitive to workout swimmers) MOST of the swimmers JUST want to workout and practice. They don't want to pay for the meet insurance (and maybe not the other benefits either). I have the same problem with my swimmers - how to convince them to pay for USMS membership (whats in it for them)

USMS is $25 a year (or so) - I believe, of that, $7 is insurance the rest is the other USMS expenses (magazine, records, awards, and general overhead). Our USMS fees have lots of extra in there - just go to convention to see ALL the work that is being done in the name of Masters swimming. Not to mention the volunteer time that is given freely.

IMHO Clay's decision is a good one for Clay, but not for USMS. I would like to think USMS could convince Clay that we (as masters swimmers) are better off together than splintered apart, but that would be a project and might require some changes from USMS.

One of my personal issues is that I thinkwe should have a 2-tier membership option for workout swimmers. IMHO we don't have a lot to offer workout swimmers, IMHO most of our USMS time/benefits are for the competitive ones. Or find better ways to serve our USMS members who don't complete (and let me know how to do it...very hard).


August 30th, 2004, 10:13 AM
My club has anywhere from 150-175 members. Of those maybe 40 will go to any kind of USMS competition so it's a given they have to become USMS members. No complaints from them.

The rest of what I'm getting ready to say is somewhat of a guess based on my interaction with many of the remaining members of our team. Why do they enroll with USMS? Because we make them. If they don't pay to belong to the national organization then they can't swim with us in Raleigh. Why do we make them? For insurance reasons. Would most of them enroll year after year if we didn't make them? I doubt it. Other than the ability to be part of our local group, could they quantify the benefit of being part of the national organization? I doubt it. Here's the key as far as I'm concerned. If they were offered a cheaper alternative that allowed them to continue to participate with the <B>local team</B>, would they take it? I think they would because their participation begins and ends here in Raleigh. The national organization is off the radar.

Most don't use the website and wouldn't miss Swim magazine if it quit coming. They could care less about FINA, swimming rules and regulations, nationals meets, local meets, swimming hall of fame, convention, etc. They simply want to be part of the team because we have parties, offer support to each other, go to movies, watch each others kids, goto weddings, goto breakfast Saturday morning, watch football together, yada, yada, yada. Oh, we offer good workouts as well.

Our LMSC has around 760 members. Would it be the same across the board? I'll bet it would.

How many of the 40,000 USMS members could actually quantify the benefits of belonging to USMS? Not a hight percentage I'd guess. How many would switch to a cheaper alternative if they could continue to belong to their local club? A high percentage I'd guess.

I'd be curious to know what insurance Clay uses. How it works. If the motivation to use different insurance is driven by cost and if those on his team feel like they are getting equal benefits as those that belong to USMS.

August 30th, 2004, 10:20 AM
“UNITED STATES MASTERS SWIMMING Executive Committee Conference Call
July 27, 2004 Minutes Final

2. STLMSC REQUEST: It was moved and seconded to accept the recommendation of the South Texas LMSC that the EC “Consider the option of removing all non-sanctioned events from the USMS calendar with the exception of those from recognized National Governing Bodies”. The motion failed. It was noted that non-sanctioned events have been included on the calendar since 1993 and that policy was confirmed by the Communications and Long Distance committees in March 2003.”

After reading the meeting notes of the executive committee it appears that as a group, it's OK that some programs and events are "accepted" as not to be affiliated or sanctioned by USMS. Does USMS want to give a hard line and put their foot down and state that they are the ONLY governing body for Master's (or fitness/competitive) swimming? What will that look like to membership? Will USMS expect swimmers who participate in teams/coach driven workouts also have to be members of USMS? Will the USMS website/forums be for members only? In other words, where the perks of being a swimmer in USMS start and end? How is this different then being just a swimmer?

Rob Copeland
August 30th, 2004, 12:48 PM
Ali, Great questions!

As a long time member of USMS (20+ years), I often feel that my membership dollars are subsidizing people who are seeking the benefits of USMS programs while choosing not to support Masters by their membership. And I would love it if these people would recognize this benefit by joining USMS.

However, taking a hard line and providing programs only to our members is somewhat contrary to our mission “To promote fitness and health in adults by offering and supporting Masters swimming programs.”

USMS could easily follow USA-Swimming’s example, where everyone who participates in a USA-S club’s workout or meet must be a USA-S member, and only sanctioned events appear on official calendars. Who knows, maybe if more clubs decide to opt out of membership, we will be forced to adopt these policies.

For me the issue is not about insurance or Swim magazine; it is about me wanting to contribute to the long term success and growth of an organization that I feel has been of great benefit to me. I was a member long before Swim was our official publication and I have never filed a medical or liability claim, but I have derived countless benefits from the exercise, competition and friendships that have come to me as a member of USMS.

USMS membership - $32/year… USMS benefits - priceless!

August 30th, 2004, 01:09 PM
Aside from other benefits to the membership in USMS, I want to focus on the insurance for a moment...

At my club, unless you're a USA Swimming menber, or a USMS member, or a YMCA member you're not insured and therefore not able to swim at our facility.

It is the coaches (or if there is additional club admin staff) responsibility to make sure all of the swimmers are registered. Lap and fitness and competetive swimmers.

I'm curious, those clubs and facilities who have fitness swimmers who aren't registered with USMS, what do you do for insurance? Do they swim without insurance? Does the facility or the team carry an additional insurance for those swimmers? Is that affordable? Aren't you paying double insurance in the case of USMS swimmers?

As for making people register with USMS.... I think it would be a good thing if clubs made it a policy that the membership with the USMS is mandatory. For chriss sakes, it's only $35 a year. We're not exactly talking about a MAJOR personal expense here. It should be a no brainer.

As for the benefits of the membership to the fitness swimmers, I think there are quite a few, even though there is room for improvement.
If the coaches aren't able to expain to their swimmers the benefits of the membership in the USMS, I think we have a separate issue here, and a different area that needs to be looked at and improved.

August 30th, 2004, 01:26 PM

Just to be clear... as I understand it...

We are like USA-Swimming in the who can practice/meet rule....

Techinically, USMS insurance ONLY covers practices where ALL participants are USMS members. If there is one person in the 'workout' that is a non-USMS swimmer - then the insurance coverage would be null and void for ALL participants (coaches and swimmers).

This is why I like Clay's solution - he is covered at all times, where I have to trust that everyone sent in the form (no easy way to tell - other than get periodic emails from the registrar)

The USMS insurance committee published a grid of when there is USMS coverage and when there isn't coverage - given the number of possible scenarios we could think of.

Connie - it is $25 in my LMSC and my local club is a university...they pay $50 for swimming club dues and then another $25 for LMSC - yes it is a lot to them. Students have coverage thru the university. Yes, the club requires USMS (or I wouldn't get on deck to coach), but compliance is at best spotty.
I am willing to listen - how would you sell USMS to a fitness workout swimmer?


August 30th, 2004, 03:31 PM
Many good points have been brought up here. It may all come down to perception. I would guess that 80 % of masters do not compete. Even amoung ex-elite swimmers many choose not to compete.

So how is our local teams, our local LMSC's and USMS serving these people?

First off there are not many teams as well organized as SCAQ that can provide their members the special treatment SCAQ gives their members. I still get weekly email and an annual birthday card from SCAQ. They have video clinics, open water swim instructions, and many many workouts. I think they are way over 100 workouts a week. They have a great web site, and colorfull newsletters. They are very social, the number of weddings SCAQ has "developed" is amazing.

So the first thing is local clubs need to do a better job fullfilling the needs of the "social" swimmer. They still want great coaches and good stroke instruction. But they need team parties, team breakfasts etc.

On a local LMSC level we need to provide value for their USMS membership. That is why I and the others on our SPMA committee try to get fitness events more, such as the Swim to Catalina. We need more clinics, and we have a great video library for them to improve from. We communicate through our newsletter and web site, both continue to improve.

On a national level there is now a Fitness section of the web site, many articles on fitness in Swim magazine, and soon more Sports Medicine. Both locally and nationally we are doing better than 5 or 10 years ago.

But what it comes down to is, can a volunteer organization do a better job than a highly motivated great local coach who depends on his swimmers for his living? Probably never.

I wish we had 50 coaches as good as Clay, if all we care about is the sport of swimming.

As Connie say, come on it's only $35 a year. That is not even one mocha cappachino a week. We "give" tens of thousands of dollars worth of free advice, free services from our volunteers. The masters who do join get a great value for their money.

What we have to do is convince the other 80% that it is worth it!

August 30th, 2004, 05:32 PM
Question - I assume Clay's insurance provides liability coverage for him and the facilities where he runs workouts, but does it give the individual swimmers the secondary medical insurance that we get through USMS in the event of an accident while practicing?

August 30th, 2004, 07:36 PM
Originally posted by jackkangaroo

Connie - it is $25 in my LMSC and my local club is a university...they pay $50 for swimming club dues and then another $25 for LMSC - yes it is a lot to them. Students have coverage thru the university. Yes, the club requires USMS (or I wouldn't get on deck to coach), but compliance is at best spotty.
I am willing to listen - how would you sell USMS to a fitness workout swimmer?

Additional $25 once a year is a lot to them?
I suppose that's really a matter of perception, I would never in a million years think of a that as a lot, even for a university student. They probably spend more than that in a week on coffee.

In our club, the USMS renewals go through the coach and the office, just so we CAN keep track of everyone being registered. Yea, we do work with our registrar to get the updated lists, and we do cross check them with the team membership.
It's additional work... we deal with it.

As for how to sell the USMS to a fitness swimmer... I'll have to collect my thoughts and perhaps come up with something other than the random things I can come up with off the top of my head. Also, I believe this is the area that can stand some improvement. Perhaps a good model would be to look at triathletic clubs, lot of them aren't competitive triathletes, but they still like to belong to a club, and a lot of fitness-triathletes, those who perhaps are just happy to finish rather than competing for a time are still competing in the races, or 'events'...
Maybe there is something that can be learned from that.

I know many people here come from the age-group swimming which is very competition geared, and there is a traditional way of doing things and organizing meets.... Perhaps there is room for change that would not take away from the elite competitive swimmer, but would add interest for the 'fitness swimmer'.

Without mulling this over for a while I can't say what 'that something' might be... I would also like to plant that thought in few other peoples minds and have more brainstorming discussions about this.
I mean, the fact that close to 80% of our membership is non-competitive ought to tell us something... Maybe we need to look at something more social and less competitive, in addition to the traditional swim meets. Perhaps some of the open water events could be a starting point... even though there is overlap in people who attend open water and those who compete in traditional meets, it seems to me that there is a higher 'fitness swimmer' attendance in open water swims.

August 30th, 2004, 07:42 PM
I looked at the SACQ web site and was really impressed. Maybe looking at waht makes SACQ/other big teams such a groovy place to be and apply some of the ideas to USMS could be a direction to go...

August 30th, 2004, 08:03 PM
Hey, we're doing our Postal 5K/10K in conjunction with a family pancake breakfast this labor day.
have a little social event that includes swimmers and their families combined with the fitness swim.

August 30th, 2004, 09:59 PM
Clay has spent a LOT of money having a professional web site and newsletter. He has automatic dues deductions. He has many stroke clinics. He is able to do what nationally we try to do, but on a local level. Swimmers like the little touches like a birthday card, something personal from the great head coach.

Connies head coach Mark Moore does for Mission Viejo what Clay does for SCAQ. Check out the really nice web site http://mastersmvnswim.org/ They put a nice social after our LCM championships, overlooking a golf course. Great food, and lots of wine:D Amazing the waiters knew a lot about swimming. I was having trouble remembering the name of the only woman who won three straight 100 meters free at the Olympics.

Trivia: who was it? She would have been favored to win the next Olympics by over a second.

Leianne C
August 31st, 2004, 02:26 PM
Hello, Are you talking about Dawn Fraser from Australia?

August 31st, 2004, 02:53 PM
The great Dawn Fraser :D

August 31st, 2004, 06:02 PM
I think that only sanctioned events should go on the USMS calendar, just as only sanctioned events go in our local newsletter. We are giving sanctioned event directors advertising for their events, in return they require membership in our organization. They also get insurance for their events.

If they are getting free advertising on our calendar then there is less incentive for them to sanction their event.

August 31st, 2004, 06:47 PM
The calendar is under the aegis of the Communications Committee, which is discussing this issue now.

September 3rd, 2004, 08:48 PM
Has anyone asked our insurance committee and agents about open water workouts? I'd like to know their thoughts on the liability to a club and coach if a group of swimmers agree to meet at the beach for an open water workout and a problem happens. Obviously it cannot be a workout with a coach on deck (beach), as once the swimmers leave the water line,they are out of reach of the coach/observer. Many of the open water workouts take place in the evening (still daylight hours) after the lifeguards have closed up for the day, so the swimmers all rely on each other for safety. What sort of coverage does the individual swimmer have (if any), and is there any liability coverage for the Head Coach back at the pool (and for the facility owner/club sponsor/club board of directors) while these workouts take place in the open water?

September 4th, 2004, 10:59 AM
With the lakes/ponds/ocean in NH, if there is no life guard on duty --even of you are past the roped off swimming area, it is a "swim at your own risk". I would think that the insurance companies would stay away from the open water arena. It would be a big liability.

Coll Swims
September 4th, 2004, 06:12 PM
Our insurance coverage applies to all covered practices whether it takes place at the pool or open water. There must be a USMS member supervising the practice and all involved in the practice must be USMS members.

If you have a specific question regarding our insurance coverage and you have not been able to find the answer on our website, please e-mail me your question.

Colleen Ann Driscoll
Insurance Chair

September 6th, 2004, 03:17 PM
The KEY word in Colleen's reply...."supervised"....I believe that is intentionally NOT defined. So don't ask what it officially means.

But IMHO (as I understood it years ago from discussions within the Insurance Committee) I believe any USMS group could - taking all rational/sensible and normal safety precautions seriously for an open water swim (same would apply to an in-pool swim) - one member could supervise the workout (and make sure all involved are USMS members).... if you are not willing to do that...then don't call it a USMS practice...

Colleen - looking forward to the convention notes on Insurance committe results. Have a good convention.

I am very thankful we have people like Colleen who have been THE mainstay on the USMS Insurance Committee for as long as I can remember (USMS institutional memory AND a very deep understanding of the industry). She is one of the people (IMHO) whose work truely benefits all the USMS swimmers.