Unfortunately we live in an increasingly litigious society. The days of accepting injury as part and parcel of life seem to have gone forever as we now look for somebody – preferably with deep pockets – to blame. No longer is tripping over a paving slab considered merely an inconvenience or falling off a horse treated as part of the experience of riding. Press and television adverts by companies keen for a slice of the action urge us to seek compensation for injuries that once would have been forgotten but are now seen as opening the door to a potential fortune. This is particularly true in America where a jury awarded $2.9 million to a woman scalded by coffee bought from fast food giant McDonalds.
Whilst the result would probably have been very different had the claim been brought in a British court, the decision does have repercussions for us as an overseas visitor may be able to sue in their own country for injuries sustained whilst here. Even in this country, a simple fall may have costly consequences: a pedestrian who tripped over uneven cellar doors set into a pavement cost insurers more than £500,000. The warning signals are clear: if you deal with the public and something goes wrong you may be sued. So does this affect you? If you are organising fund-raising events which will be attended by the general public or are simply opening your premises to them, then, even with the greatest care, slips and trips will happen and of course the chances of injury are increased where there is exposure to heights or working machinery. Attractions will normally be regarded as an ideal family day out, but a particularly onerous duty of care is owed to children. Youngsters are naturally inquisitive and have a desire to touch anything that moves; but no longer can any injury to them be blamed upon lack of parental control.
It is essential that before throwing open your doors to the public, an assessment of potential risks is undertaken and, where possible, action taken to reduce the chances of an unfortunate accident. Of course it is impossible to eliminate the risk entirely, as the unexpected may still occur; so it is prudent to arrange adequate Public Liability Insurance. This will provide cover for your legal liability for death or injury to members of the public or damage to their property.
It should not be assumed that individuals, small groups of friends or volunteers, are immune to being held to account, rightly or wrongly, by individuals who might suffer from negligence or the lack of duty of care. If an individual is acting on behalf of BAFM or a friends’ group, regardless of whether that individual might be a trustee, they can still suffer the financial consequences of a lawsuit. For example, if a Friend is positioned in a room in a museum in order to act as a guide for that room, or to prevent any loss through theft, that person might be considered to be responsible for the welfare of visitors. If, say, a visitor tripped on a floor mat and sustained physical damage, they could sue not only the institution but also the individual Friend who was acting as a guide, or the trustees of their Friends’ group could be sued. In either case, in the absence of public liability insurance, the individual or trustees might be liable for any monetary damages awarded to them in a court of law. The reason for having public liability insurance is to ensure that if a claim is made against a member of BAFM, a Friends’ Trustee or an individual Friend, the insurer will take up their case against any potential litigant and if judgment was given against the individual, BAFM member, or Friends’ trustees, then they would meet any damages awarded against them in addition to the cost of their defence.  
If you believe that your host museum or organisation provides insurance cover for Friends, ask them to provide you with written confirmation, preferably from the insurer, that you are covered for Public Liability. If they cannot do this, please consider very seriously whether you should apply for cover through the BAFM policy.
BAFM has terms with its insurer that mean the shared cost of insurance is very significantly lower than the cost that each individual member would incur separately. Members have advised us that savings can be anything from 40% to 60%. This is a very effective way of protecting your members and the public whilst keeping the cost as low as possible.


Unlike public liability insurance, which protects Friends’ groups from claims against them, personal accident insurance provides benefits to individuals in the event of certain injuries which they might sustain whilst on Friends’ business. These fixed payments are made on a ‘no fault’ basis and are paid out as soon as the injury has been confirmed by an appointed medical practitioner. For example, an individual under the age of 85 who loses a limb, their sight, speech or hearing as the result of an accident will be entitled to a payment of £10,000 regardless of any other claim which they might make against any third party. Attached are details of personal accident insurance for your information; this does not in any way form a contract with our insurers, or override any of the definitions, endorsements or conditions of the group personal accident policy which we hold with NFU Mutual. Please note none of the insurances offered by NFU Mutual will be deemed to be in force until the payment of the appropriate premium.


NFU Policy Document (Part 1)
NFU Policy Document (Part 2)

NFU Insurance Schedule 2024-2025

NFU Insurance Statement 2024-2025


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More and more members are experiencing the value of the BAFM insurance scheme, which combines essential liability cover with personal accident cover for volunteers. The policy is renewable on 1st January each year and, although premiums have had to be increased this year owing to newly-imposed rules governing general insurance products, we believe that the block policy arranged through NFU Mutual offers very good value to Friends’ groups.
BAFM is always happy to assist members. Those who have not yet joined the scheme may find it worth their while to contact the BAFM Administrator. Double click to open in your browser window, or right click and select ‘save target as’ to save to your computer. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to view this document: if you do not have it, click here and follow the instructions on the page for obtaining it free of charge.

Liability Employer’s Liability
Limit of Indemnity                                                £10,000,000 any one incident
Public & Product Liability
Public Liability of Indemnity                              £5,000,000 any one incident Product Liability of Indemnity                           £5,000,000 in total for any one period of insurance
Endorsement 2 – Members & Committee Extension
Environmental Liability
Limit of Indemnity                                               £1,000,000 in total for any one period of insurance Retroactive Date                                                   31 January 2009
Liability Excesses
Public & Product Liability
Property Damage                                                   £250
Environmental Liability
Environmental Liability                                      £500

Contact details:

Jayne Selwood

141a School Road, Brislington, Bristol. BS4 4LZ
Tel: (w) 01179 777435