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  1. #1
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    Official "Complain (or Gloat) About IMBA's Insurance Problem" thread.

    So as to keep the other thread on the insurance challenges facing IMBA chapters focused on understanding the issue and sharing solutions, this thread is dedicated to all other IMBA complains, loaded questions, and whatever else you have to say on the issue other than what is helpful to those trying to deal with the current situation.

    Thanks, I look forward to everything you all have to contribute.
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

  2. #2
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    It seems that there has been a trend in the last year or so of bad things happening with IMBA. I donít know that itís all IMBAís fault, but it has certainly given them a few black eyes and a lot of bad press. In hindsight, they probably could have done a better job handling certain high profile situations.

    First, the handling of the Sedona situation. IMBA didnít create the situation in Sedona, but when called upon to support one of its chapters, and protect MTB access at a premier MTB destination, IMBA failed. This was a very high profile situation that received national attention. And when IMBA brought out the big guns to deal with the situation, they failed miserably Ė IMO.

    Secondly, IMBA created a new, high profile position last year Ė North East Regional IMBA Rep. That position was highly promoted and advertised by IMBA as a strong showing of support to MTBírs in the NE. Less than a year after hiring a NE Rep, the position went down in flames. The position has been vacated for nearly 6 months and IMBA has yet to hire a new rep. There are a lot of rumors to the reason why the position was vacated. I donít know that IMBA is completely to blame, but it certainly doesnít leave a warm & fuzzy feeling towards them.

    And now we have the insurance situation! IMBA is probably not to blame for the reasons the insurance got dropped, but I think they could have done a much better job handling & communicating the situation with everyone affected. My club buys insurance through the IMBA plan. We received 2 weeks notice that the plan would not be renewed! This is unacceptable IMO! Our club is basically dead in the water until we find a new insurance plan. This is the time of year that my club works on fundraising, applying for grants, putting together event schedules, attending expos, etc. Now all of that is on hold because we are allocating 100% of our resources towards finding new insurance!

    I donít know all the details of why these situations have gone so terribly wrong for IMBA over the last year or so. But the trend is stark. And I think they have to (at the very least) share the responsibility for those failures.

    Maybe itís time for a change in leadership at IMBA?!?!

  3. #3
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    Re: Official "Complain (or Gloat) About IMBA's Insurance Problem" thread.

    I've watched the other thread with interest. I'm an IMBA member/supporter but I have to say that if this insurance thing doesn't get figured out and local chapters in my area cannot do trail work then what exactly am I paying membership fees for? I know IMBA does more then that but if we can't keep our existing trails clean and clear then many of the other things IMBA does really does not matter.

  4. #4
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    Our club is not an IMBA chapter nor do we intend to be one. Although we have supported them for years through donations and membership dues with the insurance option dead-in-the-water I don't know whether we will continue doing so. We too are in the NE US and the vacated NE rep issue is a very sore spot with us and other clubs in the area.
    We are hunting for a new insurance program and we may have had some success. We will see early next week. If we do find outside insurance IMBA will not receive our support in the future.
    I/we feel that they were not forthcoming enough with the dire nature of the insurance and we also feel that they have lost their focus with the boots on the ground volunteers-instead pushing chapters and fundraising options and then hiring an outside trail building organization to get trails built.
    However this ends up I know that it will leave a bad taste in my mouth for a long time.

  5. #5
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    I think there's a lot of whining and overreacting going on. For this issue, insurance companies suck. They all do. They're a scourge on society, but our society has made them a requirement. We're f'd either way.

    This same thing happened to my old health insurance company last year. They decided back in the fall that they weren't going to offer coverage at the beginning of the year (similar timelines to this issue and all) and notified me to start shopping for coverage. Wonderful. Except last fall was a bad time to shop for coverage, because EVERYBODY was shopping for coverage, and the marketplace website was in shambles in the beginning. I didn't find anything until it got down to the wire, and it's not as good as what I had before. All because the underwriter didn't want to offer the plan in 2014.

    Seems like something very similar happened here. None of us really know why IMBA was optimistic about it at first, and then at the last minute pulled the rug out from under everybody. My guess, with the experiences I've had with the insurance industry, is that the rug was pulled out from under them, too.

  6. #6
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    Over-reacting is not a word I would use in this situation. This issue affects the majority of MTB clubs and MTB trails across the country. If you're not going to get fired up over this, then what does it take to get you fired up?!?!?!

    I agree that insurance companies are a PITA to work with. But I have a hard time believing that IMBA didn't see this coming. However, you would never know that by reading all the coorespondence they sent out over the last few months. Everything was positive, smooth sailing, nothing to worry about......until last week when they blindsided all there chapters, members, affiliates, etc. All of whom happen to be IMBA's meal ticket.

    My last post talks about the trend of high profile failure that IMBA has been involved with recently. I think this trend will deteriorate people's confidence in IMBA if the trend is not corrected. I would like nothing more than to see IMBA succeed. My club has benefitted greatly from IMBA's support in the past. It would be great to see that support continue in the future. But I feel that there needs to be some changes within the organization to right the ship.

  7. #7
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    I want IMBA to succeed.

    We, the BTCEB, are IMBA Members (heck we were one of the founders of IMBA) but are not and will not invest in the Chapter program as we have all functions offered by that program well in hand.

    We enjoy a very good relationship with the Northern CA rep, Tom Ward. He wears one of our jerseys.

    Okay?

    So the part of the IMBA email, which Tom forwarded to me as an FYI, that strikes me hardest is this part:

    "3) a significant number of clubs and chapters unable or unwilling to participate in the national program and many clubs have left the national program..."

    So this is where the critiquing is coming from. It is not an over reaction but has a basis in some fundamental concerns for IMBA and it's day-to-day operations.

    Now, I'm not saying I know how to do it better. I don't even know if it can be done given the limited investment by the mtb community and the advocacy job that needs to be done. But I do believe that the thoughts and feelings being expressed are valid. And when you look at this in terms of a product or service offered, one ignores what a client, former client or potential client, has to say at their own peril.

    No number of apologist or supporters of IMBA can keep a lid on these expressions, expressions which may very well represent a much larger portion of the advocacy community than IMBA ever will at this rate.
    I don't rattle.

  8. #8
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    Official "Complain (or Gloat) About IMBA's Insurance Problem" thread.

    My point is everybody is getting riled up over assumptions they've made with information they don't have. Classic definition of overreacting, no?

    And last I checked, getting riled up before there is a good solution in place detracts from finding that solution in the first place. So sue me because my response is a measured one.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Berkeley Mike View Post
    So the part of the IMBA email, which Tom forwarded to me as an FYI, that strikes me hardest is this part:

    "3) a significant number of clubs and chapters unable or unwilling to participate in the national program and many clubs have left the national program..."
    Mike. I appreciate your nuanced approach, even if I don't share your opinion that IMBA is/was ignoring their clients (by which I presume you mean member clubs/chapters).

    I have a question, though, on the line quoted above. I may be mistaken, but I think this refers to the national *insurance* program. I don't think it means that they are leaving IMBA (as the "national program"). I think it means that they were unwilling or unable to participate in IMBA's group insurance. This caused problems when IMBA was negotiating for the extension of insurance benefits.

    If someone has more info on this and I misunderstand, please correct me.

  10. #10
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    Ignoring and suppression is a factor in this forum, as shown in previous threads about IMBA. Whether IMBA is doing that, I don't know, but perilous in any case.

    In the initial IMBA Insurance announcement thread there was a suggestion that their insurance was not manditorily a part of the chapter package. That at a national level member clubs and chapters opted-out suggests that there were more appropriate options. We're these options better than the IMBA Program or were they forgoing insurance altogether? Add to that groups possibly leaving IMBA altogether and you still end up with a lack of buy-in for IMBA services and that is a financial hit.
    I don't rattle.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by NateHawk View Post
    My point is everybody is getting riled up over assumptions they've made with information they don't have. Classic definition of overreacting, no?

    And last I checked, getting riled up before there is a good solution in place detracts from finding that solution in the first place. So sue me because my response is a measured one.
    Getting riled is an indication of the nature and degree of investment. Getting this out is part of the path to the next level of evaluation, subsequent thinking, and actions. No need to suppress it.
    I don't rattle.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Berkeley Mike View Post
    Ignoring and suppression is a factor in this forum, as shown in previous threads about IMBA. Whether IMBA is doing that, I don't know, but perilous in any case.

    In the initial IMBA Insurance announcement thread there was a suggestion that their insurance was not manditorily a part of the chapter package. That at a national level member clubs and chapters opted-out suggests that there were more appropriate options. We're these options better than the IMBA Program or were they forgoing insurance altogether? Add to that groups possibly leaving IMBA altogether and you still end up with a lack of buy-in for IMBA services and that is a financial hit.
    It was clear to our chapter that the insurance they were offering to optional, and we could get other insurance if we wanted.

    No one insurance policy is going to be the best fit for every chapter in every state. Club's needs vary (some are not really building trails and don't need that coverage) and laws change from state to state. This is not some indication of larger problems, it is just the way it is. IMBA's coverage did a good job for many chapters, but not all.

    I think it would have been a good idea for IMBA to offer a policy that did not include trail building for clubs that did not need it. And I certainly wish they had one lined up now like that so at least we had a well-vetted option to cover all our other insurance needs with the trail-building part gets worked out.

    Add to that groups possibly leaving IMBA altogether and you still end up with a lack of buy-in for IMBA services and that is a financial hit.
    Yes: add one false dichotomy based on limited information to a theoretical scenario, and you get..... what?
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Berkeley Mike View Post
    In the initial IMBA Insurance announcement thread there was a suggestion that their insurance was not manditorily a part of the chapter package. That at a national level member clubs and chapters opted-out suggests that there were more appropriate options. We're these options better than the IMBA Program or were they forgoing insurance altogether?
    The chapter agreement requires that the chapter obtain insurance, but it didn't require that the chapter get its insurance through IMBA.

    I can only report on what our chapter's approach was. And that is that everyone cared more about riding, racing, and trail building than paperwork (didn't form a club to do paperwork!) so so long as it was easy and affordable to get the insurance through IMBA, why the hell not. I am sure some clubs/chapters had insurance elsewhere from before or got a better deal because they did have good paperwork folks, and they may have done insurance that way. The more options the better.

  14. #14
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    I guess some schadenfreude is only human, but given the stakes, wouldn't we all prefer to just have insurance lined up, whether through IMBA or not? So far I have not heard of anyone securing alternate coverage which is very, very bad.

    IMO it's unlikely that IMBA is totally incompetent at securing insurance, and that means that it's going to be really, really hard for anyone else to get insured either, right? So we're looking at a massive crisis for people who like to build and maintain trails. I hope the stakes are clear to folks who just want to use this as another reason to kick IMBA around.
    Waltworks Custom Bicycles
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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by trailmap View Post
    The chapter agreement requires that the chapter obtain insurance, but it didn't require that the chapter get its insurance through IMBA.

    I can only report on what our chapter's approach was. And that is that everyone cared more about riding, racing, and trail building than paperwork (didn't form a club to do paperwork!) so so long as it was easy and affordable to get the insurance through IMBA, why the hell not. I am sure some clubs/chapters had insurance elsewhere from before or got a better deal because they did have good paperwork folks, and they may have done insurance that way. The more options the better.
    This is a good point: Much of this has to do with hassle. That is a big part of what the Chapter appeal was to us (for example, not having to become an expert in trail-building liability insurance). And in the end, that is why this current situation is such a let-down, IMO: It's the hassle.
    15mm is a second-best solution to a problem that was already solved.

  16. #16
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    One of the issues that IMBA mentions as a cause for this insurance debacle is that some chapters/affiliates have made very poor decisions and have actually signed off and indemnified land managers in order to be allowed to build trails.

    Without specific contractual language clearly prohibiting chapters/ affiliates from entering into these irresponsible agreements, it follows that should IMBA be successful in acquiring a new insurance policy, the issue remains and we all will find ourselves in this same situation in the future.
    The suspension of your bike sucks if it's different than mine. Really. It sucks. Big time.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Walt View Post
    I guess some schadenfreude is only human, but given the stakes, wouldn't we all prefer to just have insurance lined up, whether through IMBA or not?

    I hope the stakes are clear to folks who just want to use this as another reason to kick IMBA around.
    Of course we would prefer to have insurance lined up. That is proving to be more difficult than anyone would have hoped, including IMBA who encouraged subscribers to look out for themselves. It turns out that the difficulty on one hand is availability. On another perhaps having such a search and evaluation task sort of dumped upon folks who, for any number of reasons, are not in a very good position to handle it, creates unwonted and unexpected stress.

    As such, the process reveals itself to be more complex that just plugging another insurance company into the program as if one were changing tire. Issues of confidence become apparent, whether it be confidence in IMBA or in the decision making abilities of the individual groups. It is sort of a gun-shy thing.

    So for the most part I don't think that it is a matter of kicking IMBA around but of asking some hard questions revealed by a challenge that folks thought was taken care of when they signed up. Again; that is a mutual responsibility but the fallout makes sense and sorting it out here is useful. It may not be pretty but it is important.

    Again, my hope is for civility.
    I don't rattle.

  18. #18
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    I'm sorry Mike but at this point I'm not sure what you're even trying to say. I do know that I think we're on the same side in that we both hope that all the mountain bike clubs affected by the insurance/liability issue will be able to resolve it.

    -Walt
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  19. #19
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    Can a club gain insurance through USA Cycling? They offer insurance as a part of all the licenses they print, I would assume (dangerous word) that they offer something for clubs as well. Granted they wont do dick for advocacy in your area, even if you beg them to. But it might be an avenue for some of you.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by customfab View Post
    Can a club gain insurance through USA Cycling? They offer insurance as a part of all the licenses they print, I would assume (dangerous word) that they offer something for clubs as well. Granted they wont do dick for advocacy in your area, even if you beg them to. But it might be an avenue for some of you.
    We looked into insurance through USA Cycling and they do not cover trail building/maintenance related activities which would not work for our organization and I suspect a majority of other MTB clubs.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Walt View Post
    I'm sorry Mike but at this point I'm not sure what you're even trying to say. I do know that I think we're on the same side in that we both hope that all the mountain bike clubs affected by the insurance/liability issue will be able to resolve it.

    -Walt

    The most important thrust of my input is to respect the expressions of people who are struggling, to not dismiss them, to not call them whiners and detractors or suggest that they are impeding solutions.

    My second point is to appreciate the value of these expressions as a part of re-deciding how to move forward with advocacy efforts.
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  22. #22
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    Anyone that states that someone is "over reacting", "whinning" or has no reason to be "riled up" obviously has not devoted time this past week or today seeking trail building insurance.

    It would be in the best interest of IMBA to directly contact chapter/affiliates no later than 2-25-2014 with a list of insurance companies that can provide trail building insurance and let each association decide how to proceed. By doing so, each association will then at least have a real opportunity to honor existing trail work obligations and offer new trail work projects.

    Cost obviously is going to be a factor. Much more so than the price of the policy.

    IMBA currently takes 60% of all local membership fees. $30 membership leaves only $12 to the local club. What happens if the new policy costs $15-$20/member?

    We will have to raise our membership 100% to $60 in order to give IMBA their 60% and be able to cover the projected higher insurance rate.

    Or we can opt out of the chapter program, keep our membership rate @ $30, pay the higher insurance cost, and move on.

    I don't see other options here.

    I'm not hating on IMBA. I'm just looking at this one specific situation from a business viewpoint.
    The suspension of your bike sucks if it's different than mine. Really. It sucks. Big time.

  23. #23
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    I am going to speak to the insurer for Alpine Bike Parks. The insurer also has experience with non-profits.

    I'll try to update everyone. Key word "try".
    ...building wherever they'll let me...

  24. #24
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    There are over 75 professional trail contractors in the US (many of them PTBA members) and all of them have liability insurance (it is required to be able to get 95% of all trail contracts, the only exception is the USFS). IMBA Trail Solutions also is still insured and working and will be after the 28th. Needless to say, insurance is available.


    Quote Originally Posted by Visicypher View Post
    I am going to speak to the insurer for Alpine Bike Parks. The insurer also has experience with non-profits.

    I'll try to update everyone. Key word "try".

  25. #25
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    So, then, what is missing in this context is someone to announce a price for insuring trail building at the level that concerns everyone.
    I don't rattle.

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