With law enforcement agencies across the country being put under the microscope and broadcast online, officers and agents in the United States are buying up professional liability coverage on an ever-increasing basis. The reason behind this is the fear of being sued for performing their on-duty actions.
Insurance agents who provide help to officers looking for legal coverage are seeing more opportunities to provide peace of mind to these officers in today’s social media-savvy world where the sentiment towards police has shifted to a negative outlook.
According to the Fraternal Order of Police, between 2014 and 2015, the number of members who bought the union-provided liability insurance boomed 15%. Compare this to previous years when liability insurance purchases only grew between one to three percent.
The big jump in purchased policies comes from the national debate over whether law enforcement offices should be put under the microscope. With news over police brutality and inadvertently slain prisoners, the debate has only grown more feverish.
Civil rights groups have taken up the torch and have shown it on the news surrounding police brutality in recent years and group such as Black LIves Matter have called for increased accountability in our police departments.
Police officers and their departments are now seen in a new light with social media and citizen journalists taking matters into their own hands to display the duties of police officers. These officers can be slammed with fines and be sued based on negligence or omissions in their duties. What’s more, citizens are increasingly going to their Constitution and local rights and laws to understand the extent of what officers can and can’t do, and it has become easier for criminals and suspects to bring suits against law enforcement officials, with the number of suits having increased dramatically in recent years. In addition, many legal counselors lack experience in and specialized knowledge of suits against law enforcement.
A common misconception is that the city or county’s general liability insurance will extend to police departments and their officers. However, when it comes to claims of negligence, failure to protect, false arrests, civil rights violations, and other errors and omissions and vicarious liabilities, general liability insurance will not offer any protection.
These suits can lead to costly litigation and take time away from their duties s well as tarnishing the department’s overall reputation. Officers and their superiors are here to serve the community and not abuse power, so investing in professional liability insurance to protect against honest mistakes, which can and do happen, is important.
Insurance, like options provided by Professional Governmental Underwriters Inc., can help to keep everything above board for officers looking to keep their careers and integrity intact. Our Police Professional Liability insurance policy provides coverage for acts, errors and omissions incurred in the performance of police duty as well as qualified defense attorneys and litigation coverage.
While abuse of power should never be advocated, there needs to be a more transparent accountability on all sides of the debate to know the heart of the issues. Having insurance plugged in will provide officers the protection they need in the fragile environment of their daily duties.
Professional Governmental Underwriters, Inc. is a full-service risk management company dedicated to assisting public, educational and non-profit entities in the management of their professional liability exposures. Current operations are dedicated to underwriting and marketing Public Officials Liability, Law Enforcement Liability and Educators Liability insurance. We are dedicated to providing state-of-the-art professional underwriting management and loss control advisory services on behalf of our designated carriers. We operate through a network of professional producers who seek specialized services for their public, educational and non-profit entity clients.