In Florida, even after the heart of summer is long gone community swimming pools get a lot of use. But with increased use can come increased risks, particularly where owners are hiring instructors to provide private swimming lessons in the community pool. If you suspect that this may be occurring in your community, there are a few issues an association should consider.
The main concern with allowing private swim lessons to take place in the community pool is the liability risk to the Association. An association could of course try to minimize that risk by requiring a private swim instructor to sign a waiver and release which includes an indemnification provision covering the Association. It is important to realize, however, that releases are often not favored in the law. Additionally, any indemnification by the instructor on behalf of the association is only as extensive as that instructor’s insurance coverage. In the case where an instructor actually has no insurance or only a minimal amount of coverage, that indemnification may prove meaningless in the event of a serious injury or, in the worst-case scenario, a drowning during a private swim lesson.
In light of the potential for such significant liability, it may be most prudent for an association to simply prohibit owners from using the community pool for private lessons. In making a determination as to whether to allow such activities, however, an association should definitely discuss the risk and insurance implications with its insurance agent.
If an association determines that it is willing to take the risk and allow private swimming lessons to be held in the community pool, then it must make sure that instructors and participants sign releases and that those releases provide as much protection as possible for the association. It cannot be overstated that no instructor should be allowed to provide swimming lessons in the community pool without signing a waiver and release form and providing proof of adequate insurance coverage. Additionally, no one should be allowed to participate in swim lessons in the community pool without first signing a proper release. If minors are the ones receiving the lessons, there are special waivers that would need to be signed by a parent or guardian. Ultimately, to ensure that any waivers used provide the maximum protection possible and to discuss more the fully the pros and cons of allowing private swim lessons in the community pool, the association should consult with its attorney.