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Bolts and Insurance

Pete K

Well-known member
Posts originally in the 'Bull Pot of the Witches' thread in the Dales section moved here.

Just as we do at DCA, I suspect CNCC topos are only intended to show the location of the CNCC installed BCA approved anchors. We do this because these are the only anchors we have tested and which are insured by BCA. Luckily for us in Derbyshire, we have the CCPC who produce their own excellent rigging guides independently of DCA which show all the other anchors and venues with non-DCA installations.
 
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aricooperdavis

Moderator
I suspect CNCC topos are only intended to show the location of the CNCC installed BCA approved anchors. We do this because these are the only anchors we have tested and which are insured by BCA

It's always a shame to see a risk assessment where the risk of litigation is deemed more important than the risk of someone falling to their death ;) I can see why it's done, but given that the topos are prefaced by an entire A4 page of disclaimer including that all anchors should be assessed before use, I don't see that there's much harm in including non-CNCC anchors on the topo, especially if they were marked as such.
 

Pete K

Well-known member
I'm not actually saying Regional Caving Councils should not publish the locations of other bolts on their topos. I was just saying why that might be the case here.
Showing a bolt exists on a guide or topo does not make us liable for it. DCA generally only list their anchors on their topos because they are the ones we know about and manage. It surely can't be expected for the volunteer regional councils to have to record the location of every single anchor installed by goodness knows who in their area. Do CNCC even know these extra bolts exist?
 

MarkS

Moderator
I believe the CNCC is going to show non-approved resin anchors on topos in due course. Perhaps someone directly involved can clarify, though.

It's always seemed odd to me to suggest that topos shouldn't include some non-BCA-approved aids (i.e. "unofficial" anchors) when some (most? all?) regional councils are apparently happy to include scaffold poles, naturals, trees etc. that have no approval of any kind.
 

andrewmcleod

Well-known member
We do this because these are the only anchors we have tested and which are insured by BCA.
What insurance do you think the 'approved' anchors have that the unapproved ones don't? BCA public liability insurance covers all cavers for any anchor installations they may do in the course of caving. I don't think the anchors themselves have insurance.
 

Pete K

Well-known member
I always thought that for the BCA approved ones, the anchors and installer who placed them were covered under the BCA policy. This is not something that the average caver themselves may benefit from, but was a layer of protection for the installing organisation and authorised installer should anything go wrong and anyone try to bring legal action against them. Of course records need to be kept to show the process of installation was done correctly and there was proof of training for the installer. I would not have expected the same cover to be extended to anyone else installing anchors off their own back. I can't fathom how that would be a justifiable risk for any insurer to take on.
I'm definitely not an insurance expert thought and may be completely wrong on this and am happy to be corrected.
 

Bob Mehew

Active member
We will hopefully look to see if the Direct Route can be reinstated.

Listening in on a conversation last night, I gather there is a question over the stability of the rock.

I always thought that for the BCA approved ones, the anchors and installer who placed them were covered under the BCA policy. ... I would not have expected the same cover to be extended to anyone else installing anchors off their own back. I can't fathom how that would be a justifiable risk for any insurer to take on.
I think you are right and it would not just be anchors but ropes and all other "aides". Anchors were focused on because in the early days (1908s) they did fail.
 

Fjell

Active member
If you are not insured for belays failing, what would be the point of the insurance?
I always thought that for the BCA approved ones, the anchors and installer who placed them were covered under the BCA policy. This is not something that the average caver themselves may benefit from, but was a layer of protection for the installing organisation and authorised installer should anything go wrong and anyone try to bring legal action against them. Of course records need to be kept to show the process of installation was done correctly and there was proof of training for the installer. I would not have expected the same cover to be extended to anyone else installing anchors off their own back. I can't fathom how that would be a justifiable risk for any insurer to take on.
I'm definitely not an insurance expert thought and may be completely wrong on this and am happy to be corrected.
CNCC actively advertises routes based on the bolts they place, so prob best to dot the i’s, but I see no exclusions in the policy for things like belays.

There are a raft of things that cavers do that are way more dodgy than leaving bolts for others to use. I would have thought a large number of dug shafts and boulder chokes would be more of a cause for heartburn. None of them have been built to any sort of discernible standard, and few if any of the builders have a qualification in a relevant mining discipline.

If there really are any exclusions that most don’t know about, then someone should fess up.
 

Ian P

Active member
The “issue” of adding non CNCC anchors to the topos has made its way onto the CNCC agenda recently.
Debates have been had and there appears to be positive support to make it happen.
As always the “Devil is in the Detail” and the next step is to come up with suitable “wording” for a proposal that can be voted on.
Coming up with a suitably worded “policy” is on my “To do list”. I will make sure something is ready for the next meeting.

As Mark S has mentioned it is a bit “odd” when the topos already show scaffold poles, natural threads, drilled threads and Trees 😱.

BPOW is another good example of where a new “policy” would be useful along with Dale head.
 

andrewmcleod

Well-known member
I always thought that for the BCA approved ones, the anchors and installer who placed them were covered under the BCA policy.
The BCA insurance policy covers the following activities (see the Broker's Confirmation of Cover on the BCA website)

"Rambling, cave, karst and mine research, exploration including cave diving and the use of explosives (see important note
below), surveying, rambling, equipment testing, publishing and photography, caving for a pastime and bolting, associated pursuits with instructions and other activities relative to the general encouragement of scientific and sporting caving and mine research, including the engagement and activities of volunteers involved in the arrangement of conferences and projects, fundraising events such as sponsored walks, open days at club huts, and property owners and managers"
(The explosives bit has special rules)

Note that 'bolting' is in that list explicitly.

The policy includes a public liability policy that covers all of these activities for all BCA members within the geographical limits of the policy. This, from my reading and previous understanding/memory of this from previous BCA insurance officers, means that any BCA member carrying out bolting in the context of caving holds public liability cover for that activity. Should, due to their negligent actions, they owe compensation to someone, the insurance will cover it. Obviously if their actions are not negligent, there is no compensation owed.
There are exclusions e.g. deliberate or reckless acts are not covered, and neither is commercial activity.

I don't see how the anchors themselves could be insured, just the installers, but the insurance policy (available on the BCA web page) makes no mention of the approved anchor scheme (because there is no need).
 

Pete K

Well-known member
Fair enough if that's what it says. I don't for one minute think the insurers would actually pay out for an anchor related claim unless we can demonstrate it was installed competently and correctly (via the approved scheme or otherwise), but that is for a real claim to test in future.
Anyway, I'm not here to argue for or against approved anchors or what should be on a topo made by CNCC. If you read my first post I was just stating my perception of a reason why it might be the case in response to your criticism of them. I don't disagree with you on this. I think that other anchors could be shown if they are necessary, present and can be proven safe. We've done exactly this on my patch, where it was appropriate. However, I don't think that the RCCs are under any duty to run around logging every bit of unknown metal stuck in the walls if they don't wish to and aren't resourced to. So the criticism levelled at CNCC above for...
Giving a topo which misses this out for a novice cave commonly used in horrific weather is potentially just leading people into trouble...
...is not exactly fair as it is not their responsibility to know about and publicise every random anchor that appears in a local cave. Anyone could have done up a topo for that cave and published it. Maybe the group or company who installed the extra anchors should have done so. Especially now they know the BCA insurance policy covers these too.
 

CNCC

Active member
Ian is absolutely right that this matter has come to our attention lately.

In the past (going back several years) when we have discussed topos and anchors, the matter of liability kept coming up. Statistically when you have a room full of people, you will have some people who take a more relaxed attitude to liability, and you will have others who will present the worst possible scenario.

This is one of the benefits of committees, as it brings together a wide variety of viewpoints. However, we have found that where liability is concerned, it often only takes a few people to explain worst-case scenarios, for these scenarios to then dominate the discussions and the minds of those involved.

For that reason, we have historically stuck with showing and ‘endorsing’ only anchors which we can prove were installed according to a CNCC/BCA approved anchor scheme. In doing so, if an incident arose from one of our anchors, we could defend ourselves by showing due diligence in our ‘endorsement’ of that anchor (i.e. everything was done in accordance with policies and tested procedures). In particular, we would be able to demonstrate no negligence in our actions.

In the past, the concern has been that if we displayed a non-CNCC anchor on a CNCC-published topo, that is arguably tantamount to endorsing its use. If that anchor failed and caused injury, a lawyer could argue that a regional caving council was negligent to appear to endorse an anchor of unknown age, material, which had been installed by persons unknown, with no records or training.

The same applies to other fixed aids in caves (e.g. ropes). You will note that in our cave descriptions, in-situ ropes such as those on the Ease Gill trade route, and the up-pitch on the recently published F’ing Hopeless description, are referred to only as ‘navigational markers’ to avoid any suggestion that we endorse them for any other purpose.

We agree that the chances of an anchor failing are slim; The chances of that resulting in serious injury are slim, the chances of that injury resulting in a liable case are slim, and the chances of that liable case successfully pinning blame on CNCC seem almost zero. However, when you are sat in a meeting having a worst-case scenario explained in gory detail, it is sometimes hard to dismiss these concerns.

We appreciate that lots of people will feel this is a huge fuss about nothing, and it probably is!

Over the last few years CNCC has taken steps towards addressing these issues. For example, we were frustrated that there are a large number of resin bonded stainless steel anchors across our region that do not appear on our topos because they were not installed under a CNCC scheme. Examples are Bar Pot Big Pitch alternative, Dale Head Pot, and several anchors across numerous other potholes.

Most of these anchors are well placed and we have no reason to doubt their integrity. However, the problem is that unlike our own anchors, we have no data to endorse their integrity either.

We do feel however that (much as we do in our descriptions for many in-situ ropes) providing cavers with information about the location of useful, visually sound, non-CNCC anchors is important for several reasons.

Hence, CNCC has now agreed to show selected non-CNCC-installed anchors on our topos where there is good justification, most likely with a different symbol. As Ian has said above, CNCC are currently finalising our approach on this. We are in a position to do this now as we feel the combination of our disclaimers, our anchor safety guidance on our website, and the use of a separate symbol, should satisfy our need for due diligence and avoid any accusations of negligence should the unlikely ever happen.

Of course, this does not mean these anchors will magically appear on our topos overnight; We do not have a database of non-CNCC anchors 'ready to go' and we cannot be expected to know about anchors that we did not place. We will rely on volunteers to perform visual checks on the integrity and appropriateness of non-CNCC anchors, and redraw the topos to show their locations, so it will be a slow process.

However, we are pleased to report that you will soon start seeing some non-CNCC approved anchors appearing on our topos, where there is significant benefit to doing so, which we think is a really good step forward.
 

Badlad

Administrator
Staff member
I wonder under what circumstances the insurance would actually pay out for a 'bolting' incident. There are so many ways an insurer could avoid paying a claim it seems hardly worth paying for the insurance.
 

langcliffe

Well-known member
Over the last few years CNCC has taken steps towards addressing these issues. For example, we were frustrated that there are a large number of resin bonded stainless steel anchors across our region that do not appear on our topos because they were not installed under a CNCC scheme. Examples are Bar Pot Big Pitch alternative, Dale Head Pot, and several anchors across numerous other potholes.

If by "Bar Pot Big Pitch alternative" you mean South-East Aven, these bolts were installed at the same time as those in Small Mammal Pot, by Mike Wooding, supported by myself, as part of the CNCC bolting program.

We originally suggested to Dave Elliot that he might like to bolt Small Mammal Pot, but he declined, saying he didn't bolt digs. Mike then went on the CNCC bolting course, was given some bolts, and we installed them. We also bolted Echo Rift at the same time. I sent rigging diagrams to the CNCC immediately afterwards.
 

Fjell

Active member
I wonder under what circumstances the insurance would actually pay out for a 'bolting' incident. There are so many ways an insurer could avoid paying a claim it seems hardly worth paying for the insurance.
It’s third party insurance. If you are sued they will cover it, it’s legally unambiguous. It doesn’t matter how valid the claim is. The chances of them actually paying out a serious sum are very low because the claim has to succeed. It’s not life or accident insurance.
I would say that if you have no significant assets, the insurance is not really worth it because all you are doing is insuring your hard earned cash. If you don’t have much then a lawyer is not going to be interested.
 

mikem

Well-known member
It's very unlikely that modern bolts will fail, even if fitted incorrectly - however - the rock might fail around them if an unsuitable position was chosen (& at some point in the future they will presumably be considered potentially unsafe)
 

cavetroll

New member
It’s third party insurance. If you are sued they will cover it, it’s legally unambiguous. It doesn’t matter how valid the claim is. The chances of them actually paying out a serious sum are very low because the claim has to succeed. It’s not life or accident insurance.
I would say that if you have no significant assets, the insurance is not really worth it because all you are doing is insuring your hard earned cash. If you don’t have much then a lawyer is not going to be interested.
That’s a very optimistic view of insurance underwriters. For example the BCA policy document has a host of vague exemptions to the third party policy including the requirement to take “reasonable steps to prevent accident or injury” what counts as reasonable? Who determines reasonable? - oh yeah the ones paying out (or not!). It’s never as simple as “they will cover it”.
 

Badlad

Administrator
Staff member
It’s third party insurance. If you are sued they will cover it, it’s legally unambiguous. It doesn’t matter how valid the claim is. The chances of them actually paying out a serious sum are very low because the claim has to succeed. It’s not life or accident insurance.
I would say that if you have no significant assets, the insurance is not really worth it because all you are doing is insuring your hard earned cash. If you don’t have much then a lawyer is not going to be interested.
What level of proof would be required to confirm I had placed a particular bolt that had failed. I could just deny placing it. Much easier.

BCA also state, "The BCA recognises that caving, cave diving and mine exploration are activities with a danger of personal injury or death. Participants in these activities should be aware of and accept these risks and be responsible for their own actions and involvement."

That statement alongside the requirement for each individual to check any anchors before using them, and the fact that standard practice is to always use two, places a significant onus on the user. There is really no way any insurer is going to pay out on a claim.
 
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