Are you wondering about what will happen when we go back to face-to-face meetings? We asked our insurance company. While this is mainly for Canadian clubs, the US clubs should read the tips for planning meetings.
We fully understand and appreciate that Rotarians are looking for direction on how to move forward.  At the end of the day, as a board we/you are not able provide “specific direction” as it is up to each individual to decide what they are comfortable with.   All you can do is provide your Rotarians the information so that they can individually decide how they choose to engage in the community in the coming months or year. 
  1. At this time, It is currently unknown to all parties (general public, lawyers, judges and the like):
    1. If the courts of law will be able to determine whether liability can and will be determined with regards to contracting COVID-19 at certain events.
    2. If insurance companies would be forced to defend any such claims, because at this time the insurance companies are taking the position that pandemic related cases are not covered by insurance.
  2. The world has not seen a pandemic of this sort in 100 years, which means the courts have not seen such cases and there is little to no precedence for them to go on. 
  3. The Canadian Court system weighs heavily upon precedence to determine liability.  Liability is largely determined by negligence:
    1. Negligence definition in the Canadian courts according to the BORA LASKIN LAW LIBRARY is:
      1. an area of tort law that deals with the breach of duty to take care and involves harm caused by carelessness, not intentional harm.  Five elements are required to establish a prima facie case of negligence:
        1. the existence of a legal duty to exercise reasonable care
        2. a failure to exercise reasonable care
        3. cause in fact of physical harm by the negligent conduct
        4. physical harm in the form of actual damages
        5. proximate cause, a showing that the harm is within the scope of liability
  4. Board of Directors can be held personally liable for their negligence through actions or inactions that result in harm to others.
  5. Those that charge a premium for service are held to a higher level of liability than a volunteered or free service.
This all being said, I have tweaked and attached the COVID Planning Tool to provide “some” direction moving forward when planning meeting and events. You can find a PDF on our Insurance page.
Regarding the waiver, your member that stated that they don’t hold up in court is correct, however, they do act as a deterrent and make people think twice before suing, so are effective in reducing the risk of being sued.  But getting people to sign waivers for every meeting or event can be very difficult or next to impossible for some events, so what some clubs are doing is adding a disclaimer to their event marketing and/or ClubRunner invites.  Below is a draft that you could run by one of your Rotarians that is a lawyer.
“Disclaimer/Reminder/NOTICE: Just a reminder that insurance does not cover alleged or actual COVID transmissions at Rotary Events.  COVID protocols will be in place, but as there is no way to make 100% sure there are no COVID transmission, please only attend if you are willing and able to follow the protocols as the club cannot be held responsible for potential COVID transmission.”
I hope this provides the direction your members are looking for.


Whether you are planning a COVID friendly Rotary meeting, fundraiser or event of any kind, there is a whole lot more to consider than there was pre-COVID. As committee members and directors, it is your responsibility to ensure that everything possible is being done to keep our members safe.
It is also critical to understand that it is currently unknown to anyone how the courts are going to respond with regards to COVID transmission cases, if, and when they arise. In other words, WE DON’T KNOW:
- If club members could be held liable for COVID transmission cases due to our negligence in planning & conducting a meeting or event.
- If courts could order insurance companies to defendant Rotarian directors, committees and members accused of not taking sufficient precautions in planning events and resulting in people getting sick.
With this in mind, and because insurance was not designed for pandemics or communicable disease, it is imperative that due diligence is taken in properly planning events, and that the steps taken are well documented. Just in case a transmission occurs at our events, and we are then held under scrutiny for the measure we took or didn’t take into consideration.
Precautionary Risk Management Measures:
1. Meet the current government & health authority guidelines.
2. Meeting/Event invite recommendations:
  • Post social distancing protocols and expectations that they be followed.
  • Other examples: No Handshaking, No Hugging, Masks required whenever not speaking or eating, etc.
  • Post a disclaimer on the invite that indicates that members and guests come at their own risk as there is no way for the club or district to ensure zero risk of transmission (if possible, have a lawyer member assist in writing disclaimer).
3. Venue:
  • Consider a larger or outdoor venue whenever possible to allow to for the ease of social distancing.
  • Talk to the venue provider and ask about their social distancing measures.
  • Post social distancing measures at the entry of the venue.
  • Room configuration & seating. Ensure that physical distancing is possible for all attendees.
4. Food:
  • No buffets or shared plates.
5. Running the Meeting:
  • Share the social distancing protocols and the importance of following them.
  • Do not pass a wireless microphone around for open mike. If you do, sanitize the mic after every use.
  • Consider having a basket on the way out where members can place happy bucks or donations as opposed to handing a basket around.
6. Good Record Keeping
  • Maintain a log of all steps taken to reduce exposure of COVID transmission as well as a log the attendees and contact information. (This is key as to be able to advise attendants if it is later discovered that COVID cases were potentially transmitted at the specific event).
These are just examples of good protocols to implement and are meant as ideas to generate some further brainstorming.