Not only can it be lonely at the top, as the old adage contends, it can be fraught with liability. When high-level company staff-that is, directors and officers (board members) of an organization-perform their duties in their capacity as senior management, in doing so they can be at risk in the event they commit a wrongful act.
Coverage offers protection for wrongful acts at the top
Directors and officers insurance, also known as D&O insurance, is designed to protect directors and officers from for personal liability or financial loss stemming from wrongful acts they may commit while functioning in their capacity as directors and officers. For example, if the chief financial officer of a firm absconds to parts unknown-and takes all the money in the company coffers with him-the remaining board members and other senior-level staff would be covered in the event they were sued over the matter. Essentially, the coverage works to protect directors' and officers' personal assets and ultimately, the company's assets.
Some companies offer the optional coverage to be added to the Directors and Officers policy to cover risks stemming from employment practices (Or, in many cases, Employment Practices Liability insurance can be purchased.) This coverage provides liability protection stemming from matters such as sexual harassment, discrimination, or wrongful termination lawsuits.
Claims are likely to come from a variety of business activities and developments
Do you know where are the biggest risks of D&O claims? For partners and members, as well as shareholders and investors, the major sources of claims could arise in any of these situations:
Mergers and acquisitions
Financial performance and financial reporting
Matters of executive compensation
Conflicts of interest issues
Insufficient or incorrect disclosure
Stock or other such offerings
D&O claims brought by clients and consumer groups are most frequently based on the following:
Granting or refusing to grant credit
Collection of debt
Unfair or deceptive trade practices
Disputes over contracts
Issues over the quality or cost of a product or service provided
D&O claims can also arise from competitors and other third parties, particularly stemming from the following practices:
Infringement of copyright or patent
Business interference and other competitive disputes
Breaches of antitrust
Regulatory and other government-required policies