You Can't Turn the Clock Back on an Allegation made Against You
You are dedicated. You are hardworking. You have an exemplary record. You would never need a lawyer to defend an act, error or omission in the course of your employment. Unfortunately, your phone call is the hardest one we receive and almost always starts with, “I can’t believe this is happening to me.”
We defend conscientious, hardworking, honest federal employees every single day. We can’t, however, assign an attorney to help with you with a reply, or to defend or represent you for an allegation made against you, if you didn’t have coverage in place PRIOR to the incident resulting in the allegation. This is no different than the way your auto or home insurance works. You can’t buy auto insurance after the car crash. You can’t buy homeowners insurance after the house is on fire. You can’t buy FEDS Protection after an incident occurs that may result in a claim. Your FEDS protection must be in place prior to the allegation, claim or suit or coverage will not apply.
Just this week, we received calls from people who didn’t think they would ever need a policy or didn’t understand that you can’t get the insurance after an allegation has been made or in response to something that has already occurred. In other words, if you purchase the insurance because something happened and you think you may need the coverage in the future, it’s already too late. You already have prior knowledge of an incident that could lead to a claim, allegation or suit – and coverage will be denied.
Here is a sampling of the actual calls/emails we received just this week:
- A manager calls and asks for an attorney to help him complete the questionnaire in response to a formal EEO complaint. Due to the nature of the complaint, his professional association, the Professional Managers Assocation, recommended he call us, but since he didn’t have a policy prior to the incident resulting in the claim, we can’t assign an attorney to help. (We can certainly recommend an attorney, they charge $400+ per hour, but we can provide an attorney without a PLI policy in place).
- Via email, another manager states: I currently have no civil/criminal actions against me, and do not anticipate any. I do however have open personnel issues in my office. My question is when would coverage begin if I were to choose your company? And, would any potential costs from actions taken within the next 90 days be covered? FEDS can and will cover this manager for future incidents, we cannot, however, cover allegations resulting from acts, errors or omissions that already took place with the manager knowing they might result in an allegation, claim or suit.
- We had a manager enroll on Tuesday but did not disclose any knowledge of allegations when asked. However, she called our office on Wednesday to schedule a consultation with an attorney concerning an investigation. This manager told us she did not consider herself to have “prior knowledge” because she hadn’t received any formal discipline yet, although she clearly expected one. Here’s a simple test - if you are purchasing the insurance in response to something that has already happened, you have knowledge of an incident that could result in a claim, allegation or suit - and your claim will be denied for “prior knowledge”.
- An IRS Manager called and said a former employee from a previous office did not get a promotion because of a low rating he was given on a performance review. This employee filed an EEO claim against the manager. This manager had the insurance for two years then dropped it for a few years. Although we were able to sign up her again, we could not cover this claim because she didn’t have coverage in place when the claim occurred. You must not have a lapse in coverage. Again, it works like your home or auto insurance – you have to renew every year.
Bad things happen to good employees – it’s that simple. And you need to have FEDS Protection in place prior to the incident resulting in an allegation, claim or suit – or coverage will not apply. So call FEDS at 866.955.FEDS or enroll online at fedsprotection.com today – enrollment takes 5 minutes – and the agency will reimburse up to half the cost for all managers and supervisors. We can’t turn the clocks back on claims, allegations or suits, but we can protect you. Yes, even those of you that think that nothing will ever happen to you.
FEDS provides professional liability insurance for the entire federal management community. For information on your specific exposures, how professional liability insurance protects you, or how the FEDS program differs from other insurance programs, visit us at fedsprotection.com.
Posted in Manager Matters