The fundamental risks that U.S. municipalities and public entities face today are essentially the same as they have always been. From employee safety to upkeep of public spaces to making sure fleets of autos are well kept—these risks are ongoing.
However, a series of emerging risks borne out of today’s digital landscape and cyber dependency are causing experts to scramble to figure out how to protect the vulnerable. Drones, cyber bullying, a new level of accountability on police brutality, and water supplies are all being folded into the fray of what to protect against. Today, approximately 80% of cities counties, schools and special districts in the United States access insurance coverage or services through pools, according to the Markel Corporation.
Public sector risk pools find themselves tested by these risks that may in fact occur rarely, but have a huge social and financial impact. For instance, policy body and dashboard cameras, as well as social media footage caught by onlooking civilians, has sent a chill down the spine of the general public. The harsh spotlight cast on police shootings are widening the scope from a local issue to a worldwide broadcast. These cases are becoming costlier to settle, and that’s not just a nod toward finances–it sews seeds of distrust from the general public.
The use of social media and the Internet have expanded the liability exposures for municipal employees and local officials as well as those who work in public safety. While a more heightened and streamlined ability to communicate with officials has been a concern for some time, it has posed a risk for those on the receiving end.
Additionally, cyber exposures have gotten more play time in recent years with things like hacking and foreign interference. Data breaches are becoming not only more common, but also educating those in charge of the data systems to be more diligent in protecting client information.
Protection is needed for municipalities and public entities looking to stay covered during these vulnerable times. While experts are finding ways to bridge the gap between accountability and risk, having liability coverage can add peace of mind. Suits can be brought against officials for any of the above risks as well as additional risks like zoning approvals, discrimination in selecting or disciplining employees against others.
Public officials are open to many possible legal drawbacks, so it’s important to have the coverage needed to protect against risks and claims.
Any municipal governmental entity along with those employed by the public sector should ensure that they have Public Officials Liability Insurance. A need has arisen for a policy that covers both the liability of the public entity itself and the liability of the individuals who act on behalf of the entity, and PGU has put together a program to meet these specific requirements, covering:
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. We are dedicated to providing state-of-the-art professional underwriting management and loss control advisory services on behalf of our designated carriers. For more information, call us toll-free at (800) 586-6502.