Reducing E&O Risk Exposure during COVID-19
The world has been upended by the global pandemic introduced by COVID-19. Society is living through an entirely new global landscape, impacting people’s physical and mental health and their businesses. One result of the global pandemic can be seen in an increase in litigious behaviour in society.
GroupOne has collected some universal advice to help you avoid litigation and reduce your E&O risk exposure. Some of the advice is specific to the current situation regarding the global pandemic but much of it is good advice to put into practice at any time.
✓ DON’T advise your clients your opinion on whether a claim will be covered or denied.
Giving clients a false sense of certainty regarding the outcome of a claim can create false hope and unmet expectations, opening you up to litigation. You can still be empathetic to your client’s situation, but allow the claims decisions to come from the insurance carriers, not you. Even if the outcome of a claim seems to be very clear cut, our world is currently faced with an unprecedented situation and what once may have been obvious may no longer apply.
✓ KEEP open lines of communication with your clients.
Make sure that you understand how your client wants you to proceed and make sure you are aware of any changes to any claims information by requesting regular updates. Be certain that client interactions in any form are well documented including texts, phone conversations, physical letters, etc… There can be no confusion on either side if there is solid documentation of your client’s interactions with you regarding all topics. Additionally, assume all your interactions, either with the carrier or your client, are being documented or recorded. Do not make any statements about a claim without contacting your E&O carrier for advice on how to proceed with as little risk as possible. You should also contact your E&O carrier if your client makes comments that lead you to believe that they may be fishing for reasons to make a claim against you.
✓ REPORT all claims to every carrier that may have a policy that applies to the claim.
If your client has multiple policies such as CGL, E&O, Personal Lines, etc.. then one carrier may cover what the others do not. If one carrier asserts that the claim is not covered by them another may cover it, so make sure that no stone is left unturned.
✓ DON’T foster a communication with your client which would lead them to believe coverage exists for the coronavirus where it may not.
To some individuals this may indicate that you understood the type of coverage your client wanted but failed to get the correct type of coverage for them. To some, this may indicate that you had a poor understanding of the coverage in their policy. In either case this could be used against you in the event of a claim.
✓ USE all resources at your disposal.
The IIABA has many resources for brokers to follow during this time, check their coronavirus resource page here. They are regularly hosting COVID-19 related webinars for insurance professionals and they have curated an extensive collection of COVID-19 related literature.