Risk and liability

There is the possibility that volunteers and organisations directing them are held liable for any actions that cause harm (this could be to the volunteer or the person being helped). You should carefully consider any risks associated with your activity and take steps to mitigate them. The Health and Safety Executive has more information on general risks here.

We have more general health and saftey information here.


If your group has funding available you should consider insurance to cover claims made against the organisation for any injury or damage the volunteer has caused (Public liability insurance) or for injury to the volunteer themselves (Employers’ Liability insurance). If you employ staff employers liability is a legal requirement, however this is not the case if you only have volunteers.

During this crisis we are aware of groups obtaining competitive quotes from Ansvar and Access Insurance

You can find lists of other insurers and brokers on the VolResource website

There is a really good document about insurance for new and existing groups here

However where funding is not available Individuals volunteering informally might get some protection from The Social Action Responsibility and Heroism Act 2015 which supports the activities of a volunteer who is acting for the benefit of society or intervening to help someone in an emergency. If something went wrong and the volunteer (or the organisation who had been directing the volunteer) was sued, a court would take the factors in the Act into account when determining whether he/she were negligent.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) have stated that those using their cars to help their communities do not need to contact their insurer to update documents or extend cover.

For existing groups

If you are an existing group that is changing what you normally do so staff or volunteers are delivering different services you should talk to your current insurer and let them know about any changes.

This is backed up in the government advice on spontaneous volunteers written last year. (Read this here). This talks about insurance on page 15. The report says "Insurers do not need to offer anything specific to spontaneous volunteers, but what is important is that the insurer knows, understands and accepts the position of the organisation towards the use of spontaneous volunteers."