Friday, 13 April 2018


The following comments refer to the NAS (National Allotment Society) proposal to offer a personal liability insurance to members as part of the membership fee. As we understand it this would cover a member / plot-holder in the event that someone goes onto their plot (whether invited or not) and sustains harm or injury – the classic case referred to by the Regional Mentor of a child running onto your plot and falling though a cold frame and cutting himself / herself followed by the plot-holder being sued.

The interim comments (as presented to the meeting on 09/04/2018) are as follows:
Martyn Swain, acting on behalf of abas, contacted NAS with regards to the plot-holders’ Liability Insurance. His initial contact was unable to provide the information he asked for but promised to call back. He did receive a further call.

In essence, the insurance is OPTIONAL. If insured with a third party (not Shield) the member is still covered if opted in
Martyn asked for full policy T&C wording. This is yet to be received and this would shed light on who the underwriter is on this particular amendment.

His view is it makes absolutely no sense for an “added benefit” to be excluded from an independently sourced policy (insured by Shield, yet not through NAS). He suspects that upon renewal, this inclusion will be listed on all policies.
He wonders if NAS are using it as a means to state “better off with us using Shield” as opposed to a competitor, thus reinforcing the position of Shield as the NAS preferred choice of insurer for ALL allotment societies.

Until the full Policy Wording is received, Martyn is unable to make a judgement as to any potential benefits compared with the “old” policy.
However, based on Insurance Standard Practice, he feels that the only legitimate benefit of “opting in” to this “optional extra” that he can currently identify is the cover whilst attending events etc. He is sceptical as to the chances of getting a claim though on that one (an immense number of obstructions and counter-claim options can be used by the insurer). He reminds members that basically the insurer is not your friend. They are a business … if they can get out of paying they will!

Member to Member Aspects
When signing up to the optional cover, a full list of “plot-holder’s” details are required to insure each individual. “If the name ain’t on the list you ain’t covered”. (Abas questions here – Do they mean only those plot-holders who are members of the Society taking out the insurance? How will lists be updated during the year as members leave and new members come onto the site?)
This includes details of names, addresses, contact numbers etc.

Main concern of Abas (as expressed at the March 2018 meeting) is the new DATA Protection Guidelines (as understood by Bolton MBC). Bolton MBC have stated that any contact details that they supply to the Society’s officers (e.g. through the updated waiting list information) are “Strictly Confidential” and are not to be shared with any other parties. The Council is considering requiring OMA societies to nominate an officer to receive the data who will accept responsibility for ensuring that it will be used for no other purpose.
NAS stated that no details (given to them as part of “opting in”) will be passed to any 3rd party outside of the triangle which consists of Society / NAS / insurer (this has yet to be confirmed in writing).

The NAS view is that a society is made up of individuals who CHOOSE to pay a subscription to join. This makes any PAID-UP members of a Society (which is independent of the Council) effectively a member of a Private Club.
If members of a Private Club have supplied their contact details to the Club’s Officers for purposes of contact then the data liability moves from the Council to the Society as the details have been supplied willingly. We are advised that there are no issues with DATA protection – so long as;

1)      When a member pays their annual subscription they sign a form which states that they are willing for the society to hold their contact details and stating the purposes for which that data may be used
2)      Whenever the Society communicates by email or letter to a member they state at the bottom of that letter that the member is receiving the communication because they signed the above form and giving them the option of unsubscribing from the circulation list of such communications.

Points 1 and 2 above concur with the advice given by Abas in the March 2018 minutes. Given that the data referred to has been willingly given and obtained separately from any data supplied through the Council’s systems we believe the NAS’ view to be correct. Note that the Society is responsible for data security.

Concern arose because of a laxity of wording by the NAS – in their public utterances they have simply used the term “plot-holder” rather than “member” or “plot-holding member”. Some secretaries interpreted this as meaning that the names and contact details of all plot-holders, (or tenants as BMBC would call them) whether or not members of the society, need to be supplied. We understand that this was not what was meant but would prefer to see a clearer wording used.
Since this form of plot-holder insurance is often the basic block of the insurance packages from insurance firms which Bolton Societies use, Abas would wish to enquire whether such packages allow the possibility of buying e.g. Society Public Liability, Product Liability, Trustees Liability etc. without also paying for this plot-holder level as part of the premium. We would advise Society Treasurers to carefully check what cover they need and look into how premiums are calculated.

This provisional / interim report has been prepared with the assistance of Martyn Swain of Rawlyn Road Allotment Society. We would like to thank him for his time and expertise.
He has agreed to assist in compiling a full report on the matters surrounding the proposal once the Policy Wording has been received from NAS / Shield. That final report will form Abas’ firm advice on the matter. Until then the advice is to hold off opting in – you never had it, so you won’t miss it.

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