MSBL insurance plan worthwhile
Anyone can sue for anything
By Jeff McGaw, MSBL On-Line
No matter where you play, dangers lurk at the old ballgame.
A Kansas City Royals fan was hit in the eye with a hot dog. A woman at a Mets-Phillies game struck by a falling, 300 pound drunk. Some kids after a youth baseball game stood on hot discarded coals until they burned their feet through their shoes.
A player was bitten by a poisonous spider during a game.
Welcome to strange but true lawsuits, or, as it is sometimes called, "a day in the life of Tami Westbrook.” Westbrook is the business manager for Francis L. Dean & Associates LLC in Texas, a 29-year-old company that since 2004 has provided MSBL leagues with insurance at discounted rates. Francis L. Dean and Associates, Inc., is headquartered in Illinois but Westbrook managed the Fort Worth Texas outpost where the MSBL accounts, among others, are handled. It provides comprehensive specialty risk coverage for sports, leisure and entertainment. Sports camps, instructional clinics, leagues, and marathons, fishing derbies, soap box races, and other events are insured through Dean. "There is no risk too big or too small,” said Westbrook of her company's product lines.
Projectile wieners, spider attacks and fan-squashing fatties are not a huge concern for MSBL teams, but the ordinary concerns posed by foul balls and colliding players are common. Considering the stakes, the insurance offered to MSBL leagues through Francis Dean is easily the most valuable benefit of MSBL membership.
"Most organizations need coverage,” Westbrook said. Years ago, she explained, parks, schools and other field operators would just let the organization piggyback onto their existing coverage. "Then lawsuits started happening and they (facility operators) didn't want to be liable.”
These days, "you've got to show proof that you're insured,” Westbrook said.
In the past, accident medical coverage for baseball, softball or T-ball teams was too costly, too limited, or not available at all. Individuals were either forced to pay extremely high insurance premiums or to run teams without proper insurance protection – a risky proposition that left individuals and leagues open to lawsuits Westbrook said.
Francis Dean & Associates, unlike some in the insurance game, is a true underwriting facility and not a brokerage house. It has the expertise to prioritize risk and address the individual needs of the client.
The stress inherent with legal matters is offset, Westbrook hopes, by the high level of customer service that Francis Dean provides. "We pride ourselves on our customer service,” she said.
Westbrook said the MSBL plan is a good one and, more importantly, a wise investment. Her advice to any existing or new league is simple: you better have something. "Lawyers and lawsuits are a fact of life,” Westbrook said. "Anybody can sue over anything.”