Many of you are aware that hazing is not covered under the Risk Management Foundation insurance policy. Specifically, the policy states:
It is hereby understood and agreed that this insurance does not apply to BODILY INJURY, PROPERTY DAMAGE and/or PERSONAL INJURY arising directly or indirectly out of HAZING.
HAZING is defined as including, but not limited to, any action taken or situation created, intentionally or unintentionally, whether on or off fraternity premises, to produce mental or physical discomfort, embarrassment, harassment or ridicule.
Such activities and situations include paddling in any form; creation of excessive fatigue; physical and psychological shocks; quests; treasure hunts; scavenger hunts; road trips or any such activities that are carried on outside the confines of the house; wearing publicly apparel which is conspicuous and not normal in good taste; engaging in public stunts and buffoonery; morally degrading or humiliating games and activities; late work sessions which interfere with scholastic activities; and any other activities which are not consistent with fraternal law, ritual or policy or the regulations and policies of the educational institution.
The RMF reviews each new claim with coverage counsel to determine whether a claim falls within the parameters of the chapter’s policy. The RMF operates to protect the overall interests of its members; however, it is important to note that the dollars spent defending and resolving these claims ultimately impact the cost of future insurance.
In the past, a plaintiff would generally name Sigma Chi Fraternity, the chapter, and select chapter officers in claims related to hazing. In some instances, the General Fraternity and chapter have been named in a suit as well as every member of the chapter. Due to the RMF’s hazing exclusion, the legal costs associated with such claims often rest upon the shoulders of those individual brothers and the chapter.
More recently, lawsuits are claiming that chapters not only hazed, but were negligent as well—that is, chapters are accused of culpability because members of the group did not protect an individual against foreseeable risky or harmful acts.