Volunteer Insurance and Healthcare

Volunteer Insurance and Healthcare – Americas Region

Thanks to a global collaboration on volunteering development in relation to volunteer insurance and healthcare during the COVID-19 emergency, this data was collected from the 25th March till 6th April 2020. The survey was in a global scale and the information presented here is an extract from that global survey and it is coming directly from the Volunteering Coordinators/Managers/Directors in the NSs from the Americas.

National Societies and OBS Participants: 25 in total

National Societies: Antigua & Barbuda, Argentina, Bahamas, Belize, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Perú, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, St. Kitts and Nevis, Trinidad & Tobago, Uruguay, Venezuela

OBSs: Cayman Island, British Virgin Island

As it has been analyzed in previous studies, violence, epidemics, natural disasters (and more) are increasingly evidenced throughout the Americas due to migration patterns, climate change and other risk drivers. This context and the results from the annual volunteering baseline studies have been used to identify key areas of intervention and support to our volunteers and strengthen the volunteering strategy in the Region. Security and safety (and insurance coverage) are of particular interest and have increased relevance and urgency now due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

The following data, coming from the above mentioned survey, highlights the current situation about volunteer insurance and healthcare during the time of COVID-19.


Does your National Society provide ENOUGH Personal Protective Equipment and the training to volunteers on how to use them?

Does your National Society provide a local insurance for your volunteers at local or national level that covers in cases of accidents or sickness (included COVID19)?

Does your NS insurance cover death benefits for volunteers in case of COVID 19 infection?

Does the healthcare system in your country assure medical care for COVID19 to citizens (or at least to volunteers), FREE OF CHARGE?

Does the healthcare system in your country assure death benefits to volunteers responding to COVID19?

Does your NS have a Solidarity Fund or similar to support your volunteers in case of healthcare need?



Does your NS have a Solidarity Fund or similar to support your volunteers in case of death?


Duty of Care

The Fundamental Principles, the Global Policy on Voluntary Service and the vision of the Movement indicate that one of the priorities of National Societies is the care and protection of volunteers and the responsibility that we have towards all of them. In principle, the protection of volunteers, providing constant information and involvement in decision-making, motivation, medical insurance, physical and mental protection, and equipment should be permanently provided as part of our duty of care.

Volunteers Safety and Protection.  The baseline studies of volunteering and youth development in the region and the latest Analysis of Volunteering and Youth in the Americas, highlights how volunteers play a critical role in addressing the needs of the most vulnerable people and should be provided with a legal framework and protection in order to carry out this vital work. Every year, volunteers are injured in the course of their humanitarian duties, and some tragically lose their lives. “In 2017, at least 36 Red Cross/Red Crescent volunteers died worldwide and at least double that number were injured while on duty with their National Societies”[1].

To protect their volunteers is a National Society’s responsibility and a volunteers’ right. Protection and security should include adequate training, insurance, proper equipment for the right task, support and efficient communication of existing security systems to all volunteers.

Despite the fact that insuring volunteers is necessary, National Societies face some challenges in this field. These challenges are linked to proper data on their volunteers, the procedure to obtain the coverage and the funds necessary to provide insurance to their volunteers

Apart from sharing information in a fluid and constant manner, it is fundamental to protect the safety and health of all our volunteers who work in situations where they may be affected by the virus. In this regard, National Society insurance policies should be reviewed to ensure that they cover cases of virus-borne illness.  Importantly, volunteers should have access to the information about their insurance, training, equipment and security measures in order to care for themselves and others in the current circumstances.

[1] IFRC (2018): Volunteer Insurance Evaluation