Whether it’s a youth group activity or a trip to a leadership conference, your ministry may consider traveling by chartered bus to special events. Sometimes, you may even team up with other area churches to make the trip more affordable. When that happens, there are certain things both parties need to consider prior to embarking on the trip, like how to choose a charter bus company, what to look for in a charter contract, and what types of forms trip participants should complete.
Using a charter bus company is a good idea when your ministry needs group transportation for a road trip. While the cost may be higher than using your ministry’s own vans or borrowed vehicles, the charter line’s larger, safer vehicles, and experienced drivers can greatly reduce the likelihood of an accident.
Here are some factors you should keep in mind when considering a charter bus company:
You should carefully investigate the background of the charter bus company prior to signing a contract with them. Make sure the company has a good reputation within the community and with the Better Business Bureau. Are the buses clean? Are the drivers professional? Are there any hidden fees that you need to be aware of? These are all good questions you should ask before hiring a charter bus company for your road trip.
Once you feel confident about the charter company, you should carefully review the contract prior to signing it. As with any contract, you may want to ask an attorney to look at it as well. The agreement should clearly indicate that the charter company is responsible for injuries that are the result of the ownership, operation, or use of the vehicle.
The charter company should also provide evidence of primary insurance coverage that meets all applicable state and federal motor carrier requirements. An attorney can help confirm that these regulations have been met.
In addition to arrangements with the charter bus company, you should take care of business with trip participants, too. All participants should sign an activity participation agreement. This is a simple form that spells out the group's destination and what activities will take place during the trip. All trip participants over the age of 18 should sign one of these. The same agreement should also be signed by the parent or legal guardian of every minor who will be on the trip.
By signing this form, trip participants or their guardians:
In addition to providing trip participants with activity participation agreements, it’s a good idea to clearly communicate who’s responsible for certain aspects of the trip, especially when more than one church is involved.
Consider the following:
Pinning down these points can help to clarify responsibility so that details don't fall through the cracks. It can also help to clarify the responsibility, if any, of the individual churches in the event that someone is injured during the trip.
Churches may think that if they hire a charter bus, any responsibility for injuries during the trip will fall to the charter company. If an injury occurs on the bus, including one that is the result of an auto accident, the primary liability is with the charter company. However, a church is still responsible for injuries that occur at the trip destination and those that are the result of inadequate planning.
You may consider purchasing accident and sickness travel insurance for participants on the trip. This would help cover medical costs that are incurred during travel.
Thank you for your interest in Brotherhood Mutual. We appreciate the opportunity to provide your church or other ministry with an insurance quote and will reply to your request as soon as possible.
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