Financial Services

Insurance and Risk Services

Financial Services manages the University’s insurance programs and provides support and analysis for the University’s risk management functions.

Below you will find information about:

Renting Vehicles on University Business

Use of Personal Vehicles on University Business

Personal Insurance

Certificates of Insurance

Release of Liabiltiy & Informed Consents (minimum 1 week turn around time from request submission to participant documents being available) 

Which Documents You Will Need?

Who Can Be a Witness?

How Do I Administer and Witness and Informed Consent or Release Form?

What if They Ask Me to Explain the Document?

Document Retention- Keeping The Documents on File

What Do I Do If There Is An Accident Before or During the Activity?

Risk Management Resources 


Insurance Programs

Financial Services oversees the placement of insurance policies for the University and assists the University community with insurance issues. The following table is a summary of the basic insurance coverages purchased by the University and a brief description of the protection they provide. Please note that the actual policy wordings take precedence over the information provided on this web page.

Property: All property owned or controlled by The University is protected against all risks of physical loss or damage (including shipments within North America and property on lease/loan to the University).
General Liability:  All costs to The University which it is legally obligated to pay as damages, which may arise as a result of bodily or personal injury or property damage. Note: Insurance does not cover fines and/or penalties imposed by government legislation.
Errors & Omissions:  All costs to The University which might arise from wrongful acts.
Automobiles & Trailers: Third party liability, collision and comprehensive benefits on all licensed vehicles owned or leased by The University.
Rental Vehicles:  Third party liability, collision and comprehensive benefits on all vehicles rented by University employees in Canada and the continental U.S. for periods of 30 days or less.
Fine Arts:  Physical loss or property damage to the University’s fine arts and rare books collections.
Crime:  Theft of monies and securities by employees or others.
Boiler & Machinery:  Losses related to sudden and accidental breakdown of boilers and related equipment.
Construction:  Damage or loss during the course of construction of new buildings or large renovations on campus.

 Renting Vehicles on University Business

For advice on renting a car please refer to our Vehicle Rentals and Insurance Coverage FAQs

Use of Personal Vehicle on University Business

Individuals should ensure that their personal auto insurance coverage is adequate in the event that they choose to use their vehicle for University business.  If individuals have any questions about the adequacy of their personal auto coverage they should contact their insurance provider.

The University does not provide insurance for a personally owned vehicle for the following reasons.

  • The University cannot purchase liability insurance on behalf of an employee for a personal vehicle. The University does not own the vehicle and therefore has no insurable interest.
  • The University is not responsible for the maintenance of a personally owned vehicle.

Personal Insurance

The University does not provide personal insurance coverage for faculty, staff or students.

  • Benefits insurance (personal/family medical, dental and travel as examples) are supported by the Human Resources department.
  • Medical and dental insurance for students is supported by SMUSA.

Certificates of Insurance

You may be asked to produce Certificate of Insurance (sometimes called Proof of Insurance) as part of a contract requirement, when renting premises off campus, or to allow an employee or student to access another company’s premises, lands, or documents while on University business.

To obtain a Certificate of Insurance for a third party, complete the Certificate of Insurance Request Form and email to admin.finservices@smu.ca.  Attach a copy of the documentation that indicates the insurance requirements.   Please note that it will take approximately 3 business days to produce the certificate once the completed form and documentation is received.

If you are requesting a Certificate of Insurance for next year, please ensure that your request is no earlier than December of the current year. The insurance company does not open the system for next year until that time.


 Risk Management

Financial Services assists the University community with risk management issues related to insurance matters, release of liability agreements, review of contracts related to insurance and indemnification, financial risk management, fiduciary duty, protection of financial assets, and internal control. The University is committed to building an increased awareness and recognition that the management of risk is a shared responsibility at all levels of the University, including faculty, staff and students.

 Release of Liability & Informed Consents

A Release of Liability, Waiver of Claims, Assumption of Risks and Indemnification Agreement (Release) is a legal contract between two parties; the participant in the event or activity and the organization offering/organizing the event or activity.

The participant’s signature creates a binding contract whereby the participant gives away his/her right to sue.  The purpose of executing the Release is to require the participant to take responsibility for their own actions and assume the risks that could result in loss, injury or death when voluntarily participating in the event or activity.

An Informed Consent is a legal document used to inform a person about the hazards and potential dangers of a particular event or activity. The legal definition is "Permission to do something which is given with complete knowledge of all relevant facts, such as the risks involved or any available alternatives."

A properly worded and executed Release or informed consent form serves as a reliable and valid legal tool that limits the University’s liability, particularly related to risks that are outside the University’s control. A good Release clearly identifies what the risks are, and these will vary depending on the activity, type of program, the location or site, age and skill of participants, etc. Both Release of Liability & Informed Consent forms are customized to each activity.

PLEASE NOTE: These guidelines are NOT applicable to the informed consents required for research involving the use of human subjects/participants. Please contact the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research if you require assistance with an application and documentation for this purpose.

IN ORDER TO OBTAIN A RELEASE OR INFORMED CONSENT, please download the Release of Liability/Informed Consent Request Form, complete the form and email it as an attachment to admin.finservices@smu.ca.

Which document do I need?

  • A RELEASE is required if participation in the event or activity is optional and the participants are 18 years of age or older.
  • An INFORMED CONSENT is required if the participation in the event or activity is mandatory and / or the participants are Minors under the age of 18.
  • Administer Releases/Informed Consents

Print the two-page Releases or Informed Consent in a back to back format on one page of paper.

Give advance notice of the requirement to sign the Release or Informed Consent to all participants if possible. Releases and Informed Consents should be provided a minimum of 48 hours prior to the date the activity commences. They must be filled out, signed and returned prior to the individual participating in the activity. This ensures that the participants or their parents/legal guardians have sufficient time to consider the legal implications of signing the Release or the Informed Consent.

Who can be a witness?

Employees of the University may act as witnesses to the execution of the Release or Informed Consent.  The only exception is in the case of Informed Consent where the distance of the parents/legal guardians from the University makes it administratively impossible. In this case the Informed Consents may be signed by the parent/legal guardian and witnessed by a person that is not of their immediate family. Witnesses must print their name and supply their address and telephone number for the form to be complete.

How do I administer and witness an Informed Consent or Release?

Each Release must be witnessed.  An employee of the University should be designated to act as witnesses to the signing of the Waiver. Before witnessing the Release or Informed Consent the witness should observe the following points:

  • Ensure the person is of sound mind and body.
  • Check picture identification to ensure the person signing the Release/Informed consent is the same as the participant on the Release or the parent/legal guardian on the Informed Consent.
  • Ensure that all parts of the Waiver have been properly completed.
  • Ensure that the participant/parent/legal guardian has not changed or crossed out any of the wording on the Release or the Informed Consent.
  • Ask each participant/parent/legal guardian: "Have you read and do you understand the Release/Informed Consent?” the participant/parent/legal guardian must respond affirmatively.
  • Ensure that the participant/parent/legal guardian has signed and dated the Release or Informed Consent.
  • Only after the above points have been confirmed should the witness sign the Release/Informed Consent.
  • It is recommended that some form of control mechanism or procedure be put in place to ensure that all persons participating in the event or activity have properly executed the Waiver

What if they ask me to explain the document?

  • RELEASE - If the participant requests an explanation of the meaning of the Release, the following explanation should be given:

"The document you are asked to sign is a Release of Liability and Indemnity Agreement. It is a legal document and by signing the Release and Indemnity, you are giving up certain legal rights, including the right to sue, should you be injured while participating in this activity."

As the Release is written in clear terms, the witness should not provide further explanation, but should suggest the participant re-read the document and/or consult legal advice.

  • INFORMED CONSENT - If the participant requests an explanation of the meaning of the Informed Consent they should be encouraged to re-read the document as the document is written in clear terms. If the participant continues to be have questions regarding the language in the Informed Consent, they should be directed to consult legal advice.

Document Retention - What should I do with the Releases/Informed Consents after they are signed?

Releases and informed consents should be filed by the department and retained for a period of seven years.

What do I do if there is an accident or incident during the activity?

Any incidents or accidents that occur during an activity (off-campus or on-campus) must be reported immediately and a Health and Safety Injury/Incident Report must be completed. Please refer to the University’s Occupational Health and Safety website for instructions on reporting incidents and injuries.

Other Risk Management Resources

CURIE: Canadian Universities Reciprocal Insurance Exchange is the cooperative risk sharing pool created and owned by its 58 member Canadian universities to secure their core property and liability insurance risks. CURIE offers its member universities a wide range of risk management resources including lab safety audits and student event risk management toolkits.

RIMS: Risk and Insurance Management Society is a global not-for-profit organization offering networking, professional development and educational opportunities. RIMS provides a formal platform where experts and learners of insurance and risk management can exchange ideas, best practices and industry changes to over 10,000 risk management professionals who operate in more than 120 countries.

Ian McGregor & Associates Inc. is an internationally recognized organization specializing in the Risk Management of Sport and Recreation events and activities. McGregor & Associatesprovides student's staff and faculty with information and guidance in planning, executing and monitoring sport and recreation functions. Periodic newsletters and resources can be found on their website. Sport and Risk webinars from McGregor & Associates are made available to CURIE members.

The Laboratory Safety Institute is dedicated to providing the highest quality safety training, audits, inspections and consultation services in a wide variety of academic and non-academic environments. The Laboratory Safety Institute offers resources on their website including, 40 Suggestions for a Safer Lab.