Is There a Difference?
It's the time of year when we are frequently asked about the differences between FEDS and other federal employee professional liability insurance policies. While each policy provides a great deal of coverage at an affordable cost, the question for many managers becomes "which policy is right for me?" or "is there a difference amongst the carriers and coverage provided?"
Most federal employee professional liability policies, like FEDS, are secured and underwritten by an AM Best 'A' rated insurance carrier; and the core liability protections offered are basically the same - $1,000,000 or $2,000,000 dollars of indemnity protection for civil suits, $200,000 for administrative defense, and $100,000 for criminal defense; a "tail" or "36 month extended reporting period" to provide civil protection for up to three years after service; and worldwide protection important to those employees serving outside of CONUS or otherwise in international posts of duties.
So while the core liability protections are similar amongst the policies - there are differences in cost, coverage and commitment - and we encourage you to compare. Below are some distinctive features of the FEDS policy - some of which may not be included in other PLI policies.
As explained above, each policy pays up to $1,000,000 or $2,000,000 of damages (depending on the policy limit you choose) if you are sued in your personal capacity for an act, error or omission which is committed or arises out of the course and scope of employment and DOJ exercises its discretion to deny representation. With the FEDS policy, this amount is separate and distinct and not subject to the defense limits of the administrative and criminal provisions. In other words, this means that if it costs $1,000,000 for an attorney to defend you in a civil suit, your $1,000,000 FEDS policy provides just that. While all policies will indemnify up to the limit of the policy you choose, the FEDS policy does not cap your defense at the $100,000 or $200,000 administrative or criminal sub-limits.
With the FEDS policy, there is no ambiguity about whether or not state bar, state medical board, state veterinary medical board, or other professional licensing complaints/investigations are covered. FEDS defends state bar, medical, veterinary medical board, and professional licensing board investigations and proceedings arising out of the performance of your federal duties.
Some policies contain a "claw back" provision which allow the carrier to recover defense fees and other costs from the insured in a criminal proceeding that results in an adverse finding—there is no such "claw back" provision in the FEDS policy. This is particularly important for managers and supervisors appropriating federal federal funds, dealing with statutorily protected information, or involved in wildland firefighting.
Regarding claims administration, the FEDS program is designed so that coverage decisions are made by an independent third party claims administrator based upon the facts of the case and the terms and conditions of the policy. This provides objectivity and ensures the best interest of the federal employee without the appearance of conflicts of interest. The two free 1/2 hour consultations for federal personnel and employment law matters - that each FEDS member receives - are simply not comparable to attempts by other companies to mirror this valuable service. Ask around.
Time and again, FEDS members have been impressed with the quality of the legal representation they have received. This is because FEDS panel features the nationally recognized law firm of Shaw Bransford & Roth, P.C. (SB&R), which, as many of you already know, has successfully defended federal employees for almost 30 years. SB&R previously handled claims for other providers, but is now exclusively handling such claims for FEDS.
And at FEDS, customer service is of the utmost importance. Important to many of our members is the fact that we offer payroll deduction; we don't charge unnecessary administrative fees; we offer pro rata refunds for members who retire or otherwise leave federal service; and in some cases are $20-$30 less expensive than other policies.
FEDS president and founder is also a former employee and attorney of a federal agency who has continually demonstrated his understanding of and commitment to the federal employee community. FEDS is recommended and endorsed by many leading federal managers associations and has earned the reputation for "doing right by federal employees."
If you don't have any coverage in place, we'd like for you to consider FEDS. Most importantly, however, is that you secure the coverage. Even if you are ultimately vindicated, the cost to defend an allegation, claim or suit, could be cost prohibitive. There is no room for excuses, especially when coverage is available for as little as $135 per year after agency reimbursement, and enrollment takes less than 5 minutes.
*These protections are provided by the FEDS policy (FEDS Master Policy is available online at www.fedsprotection.com), please review the complete terms and conditions of other federal employee professional liability policies to ensure these core protections are provided. Our interpretation of coverage does not alter the terms and conditions of any policy.
Having a FEDS policy gives you the peace of mind to do your job and it protects you if your records management actions or inactions results in an investigation or other official inquiry. Inquiries into these matters is made easier when you have an attorney on your side who is there to protect your interests. When it matters to federally employed managers - it matters to FEDS. For more information on your specific exposures, how professional liability insurance protects, or how the FEDS program differs from other insurance programs, please visit the FEDS website and choose the Executives and Managers tab.