Directors and Officers Insurance covers management and executives for claims made against them while they are serving on a board of directors and/or as an officer of an organization. In layman’s terms, Directors and Officers Insurance covers claims resulting from decisions and actions taken by company managers as part of their job duties. An organization’s officers typically include key executives and managers, but not all employees. Policies cover defense costs and damages arising out of wrongful act allegations and lawsuits brought against an organization’s directors and/or officers.
The United States is the world’s largest Directors and Officers Insurance market, and the sources of insurance claims on these policies are ever expanding. The open ended indemnification terms written into this insurance can help to protect management from unforseen situations which cause financial injury to others. Third party claims are most common when a company declares bankruptcy, and claimants try to hold managers liable for the company’s failure in an attempt to collect investments or debts. The most expensive claims, however, are usually made by regulators and shareholder groups.
Another frequent source of a management liability claims comes from accusations of wrongful employment practices. This can include employee complaints of discrimination, wrongful termination, hostile workplace conditions, and many more. Insurance for this exposure is most often provided as a separate Employment Practices Liability Insurance coverage along with a Directors and Officers Insurance policy.
Directors and Officers Insurance coverage is necessary to enable managers to make decisions without having to worry about personal liability. Directors and Officers coverage allows managers to settle claims quickly and discreetly. Even if an insurer ultimately doesn’t cover a loss, Directors and Officers Insurance can still be useful because it will cover the defense costs for the claim.
It’s true that major publicly traded companies face the most risk when it comes to claims against higher-ups. In fact, it’s standard for large multinational companies to acquire this type of coverage as an indispensable part of their risk management strategy. However, all kinds of other organizations should be insured as well.
These insurance claims are increasingly common for both public and private companies, as well as nonprofits. In a recent Towers Watson survey, 27% of privately owned companies reported claims within the last ten years. Organizations and their management teams are susceptible to a wide range of claimants, including shareholders, customers, employees, competitors, vendors, and government entities.
If you think your General Liability Policy offers the coverage you need, think again: General Liability and Umbrella Insurance don’t cover claims concerning management decisions.
Managers make mistakes and are often held liable for them. Management and executives have to make tough decisions, often based off little information, that can have a huge impact on the business and outside world. No matter how careful or experienced they are, any manager’s actions and decisions can result in losses for an organization or a third party, which can lead to costly litigation. D&O Insurance makes the risk that comes with managerial decision-making manageable and transparent, ensuring that a company’s management has room to make decisions.
A comprehensive D&O policy is often actually a necessary recruitment tool to attract and retain top talent to a board seat. This is especially the case for nonprofits. Directors and Officers Insurance for Nonprofits is an important addition due to the difficult decisions required of a nonprofit director. It is also often broadly written to include all members of the nonprofit organization.
Executives and managers themselves are increasingly inquiring about coverage, seeking additional assurances beyond corporate indemnification. Additionally, some outside investors, like venture capitalists, will require D&O Insurance, viewing the coverage as a way to protect their investment. As claims related to regulatory actions have become more common, many organizations now consider personal liability coverage as one of the most important aspects of their D&O program.