It is no secret that we live in a litigious society. The court system is kept very busy handling lawsuits (sometimes valid, sometimes not) that are initiated by individuals or entities against other individuals or entities. There are various types of liability claims. Some claims are for bodily injury, some are for property damage and others are for pain and suffering, economic or other damages. Some claims are related to employment laws or allege violations of civil rights statutes. Claims can also be made for data breaches and the resulting release of personally identifiable information. Even if a claim does not make it to the lawsuit stage, each claim should be investigated and it can take a lot of time, expertise and money to do so.
Who Buys Liability Insurance?
Most individuals and entities purchase liability insurance policies to protect themselves against some or all of these kinds of claims and State government is no exception. Through Risk Management, liability self insurance is made available to State agencies. This insurance provides financial protection against three major types of claims torts, civil rights violations and employment rights violations. The limit of liability is $400,000 per occurrence and there is a $1,000 per occurrence deductible. There is a premium charged to each insured entity and it is based on the number of employees that work for the entity.
What does it cover?
There is a statute called “The Maine Tort Claims Act” that declares which torts the State and its employees can and cannot be sued for, in what amounts they can be sued along with other legal requirements that must be followed in order to maintain a suit or cause of action. The Act can be found in Maine Statutes under Title 14, Chapter 741, 8101 8118. This statute provides some important sovereign immunities. The insurance provided by Risk Management for tort liability retains all the immunity that exists therein to defend claims. Risk Management utilizes the services of the Office of the Attorney General for legal counsel when addressing many of these claims. Included in this tort liability insurance is insurance for certain violations of portions of the Federal Civil Rights law and for most violations of State Civil Rights laws as described in Title 5 4551 et. seq. Please note that this policy does not insure all types of civil rights violations or employment practices liabilities. It is also important to note that damages greater than $400,000 may be assessed in federal claims, but the amount of insurance is, in most cases, limited to $400,000 per occurrence. Some agencies have purchased limited data breach liability and response insurance. Please understand that insurance does not address all the possible claims that might be made. Therefore, organizations would be wise to offer and document training for new employees and refresher training for all employees on an annual basis. In fact, Risk Management is funding certain training in these areas. If you are a state governmental organization, please visit the State's Human Resources Training web page for more information. People and organizations Risk Management insured who are not state governmental organizations can call the Risk Management office to inquire about other training options.
Any of the above claims can be very upsetting to an employee or an organization and can wreak havoc with an agency’s budget. Unlike cheese, these claims do not improve with age! Involve Risk Management as early in the process as possible - preferably as soon as a claim is received or there is knowledge that a claim might be made. Let Risk Management's professional staff help guide you through the complex process.