[TheThinkTank] Insurance Woes, Continued!

Josh Bisker jbisker at gmail.com
Wed Jul 1 16:38:21 PDT 2020


I mentioned an insurance conundrum a couple weeks ago, and it hasn't worked
itself out; now I'm at the "calling all ships" stage -- please give a
gander below.

*Also a new turn in the story: structural racism!* Brokers have told us
that getting a new insurance policy in NYC is especially hard right now,
not only because of COVID, but also because of all the Black Lives Matter
activity here. They said told that the Mechanical Gardens' visible support
for and engagement with the BLM movement makes us unappealing to insurers.
Carriers consider BLM and, I quote, "the whole George Floyd thing" to be a
"touchy" and "hot button issue" (these are actual quotes from brokers!
wtf!) and thus our involvement makes us an unattractive risk to take on. In
other words, our denial from the insurance industry is a manifestation of
systemic, structural racism, and it's erecting an unjust barrier to
bike equity.

*The short story:* We're on the threshold of a deal for space with a
powerful city agency, the EDC, but we can't proceed b/c we don't have
insurance. And we can't get insurance b/d we're in NYC and seem like a
risk.

*The solution we're seeking right now* is for another organization to add
the Mechanical Gardens as an "additional named insured" to their current
general commercial liability insurance policy; in that capacity, we would
be able to add the EDC as a temporary insured party for the two-week pilot
we're trying with them. An alternative: for an organization to just
temporarily add both the Mechanical Gardens and the EDC to their policy in
the manner the EDC stipulates in their contract for the duration of this
2wk program. If your coverage goes up, we'd pay the difference.

*SO: *Any ideas, and/or any takers?

*The longer story: *Right now the Mechanical Gardens has hit a wall, right
at the threshold of an amazing opportunity. We've been negotiating with the
New York City Economic Development Corporation, a hugely powerful
quasi-public agency in NYC, for space to stage this
<https://www.awesomefoundation.org/en/projects/145159-mechanical-gardens-bike-co-op>.
The EDC is offering us space to pilot the program: two weeks to train
volunteers to build 50 bikes (donated new from Kent), that the EDC will
then send to hospital workers at at the front lines of COVID-19. For this
pilot, we're hiring a group of BIPOC LGBTQ youths from a local ride club as
apprentice mechanics, teaching them basic wrenching skills that will
prepare them for resilient bike industry jobs and for community resiliency
actions. The program will be sensational, and address a complexity of
social justice goals all at once.

*But: we're in a bind.* Our nonprofit fiscal sponsor, the Alliance for
Global Justice, no longer provides insurance for our operation, but the EDC
needs us to have insurance, and needs to be temporarily added to the policy
themselves, as stipulated in the draft agreement they sent over. We are
hitting a brick wall trying to procure local coverage for ourselves.

This all is time-critical, because our program with the EDC cannot go
forward unless we have the ability to show them insurance and add them as a
named party on the policy. Nonprofits are shying away, insurers are
effectively blacklisting us, commercial shops are punting, and we're
running low on options. This could be a tremendous opportunity to
contribute valuably and substantively to the movement for black equity and
social justice in NYC, and to further help universalize bike riding for all
New Yorkers. Halp.

I'm available and eager to talk about any solutions we might have:
914-500-9890

xo

Josh
Josh Bisker
914-500-9890
New York Mechanical Gardens Bike Co-op <http://bikecoop.nyc/>
596 Acres <http://596acres.org/>
Bindlestiff Family Cirkus <http://bindlestiff.org/>
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