Personal liability and insurance

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Health and safety
02 November 2016
Personal liability for the health and safety of students on educational visits concerns many ATL members and press reports of accidents and deaths on visits always serve to heighten this concern. For claims to succeed, negligence must be proven.

ATL believes that, provided members exercise reasonable care and follow the employer's instructions and policies, they are highly unlikely to be held negligent on the rare occasions when an accident occurs.

Claims are seldom brought against individuals and will nearly always be taken against the employer, who is vicariously liable for the actions and omissions of employees. Your employer's insurance arrangements should include cover for claims of negligence (and if you are unsure, seek confirmation from your headteacher/principal).

Should an incident arise in the course of a member's professional duties, whether on or off site, ATL will provide support.

All participants on a trip must be fully and correctly insured. It is important to ensure that the insurance includes cover for possible personal liability ('third party insurance') for all adults who are responsible for students on the trip. Any existing school/college policy ought to be checked carefully, particularly in independent schools.


All participants on an educational visit must be fully and correctly insured. With a vast range of travel insurance policies and firms to choose from, it is important to study policies carefully before paying the premium.

Examples of cover needed may include:

  • public liability
  • third party liability, (i.e. cover for adults supervising students)
  • claims for negligence
  • personal accident cover for all adults and students
  • costs of medical treatment
  • specialised or high risk activities
  • damage to or loss of hired equipment
  • programmed and non-programmed activities
  • expenses in emergencies
  • cancellation and delay
  • transport and passenger liability
  • loss of baggage and personal property
  • failure or bankruptcy of provider
  • legal assistance/fees in the recovery of claims.

It is also essential to be aware of the risks excluded from a policy. Approval for visits should not be confirmed until minimum insurance cover has been arranged.

Generally, however, the courts do not rush to find schools/colleges and teachers/lecturers negligent - they accept that accidents do happen. However, schools and colleges must show that they have taken reasonable steps to plan trips thoroughly and assess and control risks, and individual teachers/lecturers must demonstrate that their responses to an incident were within the range of the reasonable responses of a parent.

See also