The establishment of two new general and professional liability insurance programs designed to protect students involved with internships, fieldwork experiences and service learning has generated a number of questions for students, faculty and host organizations. Addressing these questions may help alleviate concerns and foster increased University engagement with the community, while managing risks of student injury as well as the potential for costly litigation against faculty, staff and the university.
What is the difference between SPLIP and SAFECLIP?
- Basically, both programs offer the same general and professional liability insurance to the applicable students, the CSU, and CSUSB employees, staff and faculty; the major difference is in the students covered.
- SPLIP covers CSUSB students enrolled in the health professional practicum or the education credential programs. These are the students participating in nursing and allied health and teaching or education fieldwork.
- SAFECLIP covers students performing community service or volunteer work for academic credit and/or students in radio, television or film academic programs.
Why are there two separate programs?
Insurance underwriters determined that there were greater risks for students involved in internships in health and nursing and allied fields than in the less defined service learning fieldwork, so the SPLIP program was negotiated by CSU Risk Management first. That experience made it easier to negotiate SAFECLIP at a lower rate.
Does a site agreement need to be in place in order to provide coverage under either of these programs?
Yes—a site agreement must be in place in order for this insurance protection to be in effect. The agreement for academic placement between the University and a host entity is essential to establish the educational objectives of the experience and to detail responsibilities should an assigned student be injured or accused of causing injury to or damaging property of others. Once an agreement is in place, multiple placements may be facilitated.
How are insurance premiums paid?
Each university in the CSU is billed by CSURMA (our self-insured CSU Risk Management Authority) based on the number of students in the programs. Each university then determines if the costs will be passed on to affected students. Since these are “blanket” policies, all students enrolled in the field work are covered regardless of who pays the premium.
Will SPLIP and SAFECLIP require changes in the site agreement’s General Provisions language to include the new insurance programs?
Yes—as the opportunity arises, the existing agreement should be re-written by Purchasing & Contracts Administration to recognize this insurance. New agreements will have additional wording to reflect these changes.
What are the responsibilities of University faculty and staff toward student internships and placements in the external work environment?
Faculty and staff have a high level of responsibility for assuring the students’ safety when identifying, approving and placing students in the external work environment. It is similar to the responsibility faculty take on for a normal laboratory course or field trip experience; but the external work environment is different in that there is no direct University supervision. It is therefore an important part of any off-campus assignment that faculty and staff conduct site inspections and verify that environmental and occupational safety requirements are consistent with University and/or “industry standards.
If a student is injured during an internship or service learning experience, how are the related medical bills handled?
- The protection for students placed in internships and service learning fieldwork experiences is determined by the site agreement. The CSUSB standard internship and service learning agreement, which is processed through Purchasing and Contracts Administration, contains wording that makes it clear that the students shall at no time be considered as officers, employees, and agents or volunteers of the University. Therefore, the students are not covered by the University’s Workers’ Compensation insurance program.
- In addition, the usual contract wording states, “The student(s) shall be considered employees of the Community Partner (CP) for the duration of the internship/service learning placement, or where that is not possible, CP will sign up student(s) as an “official volunteer” of CP for purposes of Workers’ Compensation and liability coverage.”
- Therefore, the University expects that the cost of injuries to these students during the placement will be covered by the host entity’s Workers’ Compensation insurance. Any deviation from the standard agreement wording should be negotiated through the Risk Manager and Purchasing/Contracts Administration for possible alternatives. It is not the intention of the University to prevent internship or service learning students from serving the community organization solely on not meeting minimum Workers’ Compensation insurance requirements.
Does SPLIP or SAFECLIP replace Professional (Malpractice) Liability insurance purchased by an individual student?
No—these programs do not replace professional liability insurance a student may want or need for protection outside of the academic situation. They differ in that personal professional liability insurance does not protect the University or the host institution. It continues to be good risk management practice for students in nursing and allied health programs to maintain their own personal professional liability insurance because of the risks involved, demands of employers and unusual situations students may find themselves.
How can I obtain more information?
The University Risk Manager, and the Purchasing & Contracts Administration can provide one-on-one training and issue resolutions for faculty and/or departments that need or want additional guidance. A good place to start is at the Purchasing & Contracts Administration website.
These departments are obligated to help reduce risk exposures for students without hampering the learning opportunities or impeding experimental education pedagogies. We believe that if department coordinators and faculty had greater awareness of the risks (and duty owed) involved with student placements, they would eagerly comply with the basic service learning requirements in EO 1069.
For information regarding the SPLIP policy, contact The California State University Risk Management Authority at the Office of the Chancellor at (562) 951-4850.