[hackerspaces] Insurance, liability and kids

Gui Cavalcanti gui at artisansasylum.com
Wed Sep 4 22:16:28 CEST 2013

 > All you have to do, is write a statement that you (the leasor/rentor) 
are taking responsibility
 > for whatever happens in the space and absolving the landlord of any 

Yeah, that's just not true, especially in the US. No waiver in the world 
(even your own membership waivers! food for thought!) prevents lawsuits 
from being filed against you, your landlords, your members, etc, if the 
plaintiff can make a case that their actions (whether active or simply 
permissive) contributed to the situation. Waivers are just another piece 
of evidence that a judge considers after the case has hit the local 
papers and both parties have spent thousands of dollars on lawyers. Some 
waivers are better than others, but none have the power to magically 
prevent a lawsuit. In this case, if the landlord now knows you're 
allowing kids in the facility, and knows the facility isn't appropriate 
for kids, they can now be sued for negligence because they knew ahead of 
time you were conducting these inappropriate actions in their facilities 
and they didn't do anything about it. Furthermore, if the landlord 
*didn't* know, and gets sued because something happens in their 
facilities, they can easily turn around and sue you for every dollar of 
their legal expenses plus damages because you broke your lease requirements.

(Side note: A space in our area nearly got shut down by building 
inspectors and fire marshals because a separate entity was running a 
summer camp in their facility. The situation was only resolved when the 
kids were kicked out. Local building code has specific requirements for 
children that go above and beyond requirements for adults, so if your 
space is only up to code for adult use, you may very well have a serious 
problem with local building inspectors and fire marshals [in addition to 
landlords and insurance companies] if you're trying to introduce kids 
into it)

If you have a commercial lease in the United States, I'm almost 100% 
sure that there is a requirement in your lease for your space to have 
insurance that covers the landlord as additional insured. What this 
means is that the landlord's legal expenses are covered by *your 
insurance* in case they get sued - nothing more, nothing less. Again, 
this doesn't mean they can't get sued in the first place - if you're not 
behaving according to your lease, and they know about it (and are thus 
allowing it), the ball is in their court to kick you out or force you to 
change your behavior.

On top of all this - even if you ARE insured, but your insurance doesn't 
cover kids, or your lease doesn't allow for uses that include kids, your 
insurance will not pay for your legal expenses, or your landlord's legal 
expenses, if you get sued because a kid gets hurt.

Artisan's Asylum has been working really hard to get any events with 
children covered by our insurance, to no avail. We're working with a 
specialty insurance company, and they've been unwilling to take the risk 
given our mix of membership, classes, and constant presence of 
easily-accessible dangerous tools. I can guarantee you that if you 
haven't told your insurance that there are children in your facility 
beforehand, their presence is not covered by your existing policy. Any 
interaction with children is an additional consideration and line item 
on your general liability & property insurance.

What we've found from surveying craft spaces around our area is that in 
general, educationally-focused hands-on spaces (like craft schools, 
vocational schools, etc.) are allowed by insurance companies to have 
kids' programs, because the kids are in a controlled environment and the 
insurance company can require things like having all instructors submit 
to CORI background checks. Once you add free-roaming membership into the 
mix, and change the environment to be one where random adults are 
interacting with the children in unstructured ways, insurance companies 
freak out. We, at least, haven't found one that will both insure adult 
membership-based activities and even something as simple as kids 
classes. We have some examples of spaces near us where the whole space 
is devoted to kids - these spaces generally have a Makerbot or two and a 
whole bunch of building kits like legos, duplo, etc., but not many 
'real' power tools. We're still working with our insurance company to 
try and find a solution, and are 1 year into the conversation.

*TL,DR: Adding kids to makerspaces and hackerspaces is a recipe for 
disaster for those who aren't willing to do their homework. Landlords 
and insurance companies are well within their rights to shut you down if 
you don't play by the rules.*

For more info about makerspace/hackerspace insurance, check out this 
article I wrote up a while ago for MAKE: 


On 9/4/2013 2:39 PM, Mark Janssen wrote:
>> I would like a deep discussion about insurance, liability and kids.
>> [...rampage of landlord...]
>> According to the adults he was complaining about some kind of liability
>> issue and insurance among other things.
> All you have to do, is write a statement that you (the leasor/rentor)
> are taking responsibility for whatever happens in the space and
> absolving the landlord of any liability.
> --
> MarkJ
> Tacoma, Washington
> _______________________________________________
> Discuss mailing list
> Discuss at lists.hackerspaces.org
> http://lists.hackerspaces.org/mailman/listinfo/discuss

Gui Cavalcanti, Founder
Artisan's Asylum, Inc.
Cell: (857) 366-9599 (NEW)

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