By Lauren Taylor
Although most PTAs have now continued their policies, the Baltimore County PTA is working hard to get the last few groups covered.
"I have shared the message with all our local units that no one wants to be put in a position where they could be held liable for something that happens in the organization," said Susan Katz, president of the county PTA. "We try to make getting the insurance as easy as possible."
As independent, nonprofit organizations, PTAs need to have insurance to cover their activities, finances and leadership, Katz said.
"It's the prudent thing to do," she said.
Rob Nuccio, whose company, R.V. Nuccio, in Toluca Lake, Calif., has insured PTAs since 1952, agreed.
"You have to have it. You're crazy if you don't," he said.
Insurance plans include liability; bonding, which covers crimes and finances; property, and directors' and officers' liability.
"If your PTA gets sued and you don't have insurance, that money is going to come out of the officers' pockets," said Nuccio, whose company is one of only a handful in the country to insure PTAs.
No activities are off limits for PTAs under the insurance plans, Nuccio said, but the company strongly advises against certain ones, such as dunk tanks (Nuccio has seen dunking leave people comatose or with severed limbs) and bounce houses, which he said have caused eye loss, broken backs and broken spines.
"PTAs don't get a lot of claims, but when we get them, they're a doozy," Nuccio said.
In Maryland, the state PTA organization oversees all local groups. And with so many PTAs under its umbrella -- the Baltimore County PTA alone has 42,000 members at 159 schools -- it qualifies for a lower group rate on insurance.
For the 2007-08 school year, PTA insurance costs $225, down from $255 the year before.
When local PTAs decide to host activities that are above and beyond the policy, they can get a rider to cover the event, Katz said.
Although it's rare, local PTAs have been sued before.
Katz said she couldn't recall any specific problems.
"From time to time, these things happen," she said.
E-mail Lauren Taylor at Lauren Taylor@patuxent.com