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Public Entity Insurance

Cost-effective coverage. Comprehensive risk management.

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Spotlight on: Public Entity Insurance

In today’s litigious society, your public entity faces a broad range of risks.

Considering the financial devastation that a lawsuit or claim can bring, public entities need many of the same insurance coverages that protect private companies.

However, because taxpayer dollars fund your operation, state law dictates your limits of liability.

Insurance brokers who aren’t familiar with tort reform and its implications on your ability to file claims and its caps on payouts may not be aware of the levels of coverage that are appropriate for public entities. And with public budgets always under scrutiny, maintaining a cost-effective risk management program is a constant challenge.

Higginbotham has served public and private schools, municipalities and cooperatives for decades. We have working knowledge of the state laws that give public entities certain immunities to liability depending on the nature of their work. Armed with this information, we help guarantee that you don’t pay for coverage above your liability.

Our understanding of the government purchasing process for insurance helps keep you in compliance with regulations.

Whatever your insurance needs may be, Higginbotham has you covered.

Why Higginbotham? Because accountability matters.

Bold advocacy and genuine accountability. That’s what we provide to public entities.

Our decades-deep experience serving public and private schools, municipalities and cooperatives, means that our know-how knows. It knows the state laws that dictate your limits of liability. It knows tort reform. And it knows its implications on your claims.

With your needs in mind, we get to work. We recommend appropriate levels of coverage and help guarantee that you don’t pay for coverage above your liability.

But we don’t stop there.

Our understanding of the government purchasing process for insurance helps keep you in compliance with regulations, and our Day Two Services® support your risk management efforts to deliver year-round value.

We know that with public budgets always under scrutiny, maintaining a cost-effective risk management program is a constant trial. So we’re there with you 365 days a year to help turn your challenges into opportunities.

To learn more about how our values-based approach creates value for you and your business, click here.

Or visit our Insights page to learn more about public entity risk management.

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Need a partner in managing your risk? We’re here to help.

Planning an insurance strategy to address the distinctive risks that challenge your public entity can be a challenge in and of itself.

Not with Higginbotham as your partner.

Our deep industry experience and strong insurance carrier relationships help us accomplish things that others can’t.

We get to know you by name and nuance so we deliver custom insurance and risk management solutions with your needs in mind.

Our approach is more individual and less institutional. By making policies personal, we help you worry less and accomplish more.

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We had worked with a small broker who handled our renewal each year. I never got the feeling he was working for us. We knew we needed someone to look out for our best interest, and they saved the day.

Monique D.
Controller, Staffing Industry

Coverage Options for Public Entities

While insurance needs vary from entity to entity, here are some common coverages worthy of your consideration.

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Business Interruption

Business interruption insurance can help reimburse you for lost income in the aftermath of a disruptive event. This coverage can also help with the costs of rebuilding and operating out of a temporary location while you rebuild. If you experience a fire, flood or another event that damages or destroys your office, business interruption can help pay your fixed costs, training expenses, rent at a temporary location and more.

Extra Expense

This supplementary coverage can help with non-ordinary expenses after a business interruption. Unlike business interruption coverage that helps with standard expenses like rent, utilities and other overhead, extra expense insurance can help with unorthodox costs including:

  • Moving to a Temporary Site
  • Buying or Leasing Equipment for a Temporary Site
  • Hiring Temp Workers

In most cases, extra expense coverage is add-on protection in a commercial property insurance policy.

Public Officials Liability

One of the most crucial liability coverages for a public entity to carry, public officials coverage can help protect public officials from financial hardship suffered from negligence or an error in judgment. Much like D&O coverage can help  protect directors and officers, public officials liability coverage can help protect against the legal risks of working for a government entity. Should a public official face a lawsuit, this liability coverage can help with court costs, legal fees settlements and more.

While it can protect against negligence and honest mistakes, public officials liability insurance typically has exclusions for fraud, dishonesty, false arrest, defamation and other criminal acts.

Commercial Property

Because public entities often control large amounts of dispersed property, their average property risk exposure trends higher than most other businesses. Adding the challenge of keeping track of vast utility networks and equipment scattered across multiple offices, commercial property insurance is an essential protection for consideration. This coverage can help with the cost of repairing or replacing lost, damaged, stolen or destroyed property in the aftermath of a covered peril.

Commercial Auto

Whether you run a government office, school, municipal corporation or other public entity, commercial vehicles likely play a role in your operation. Even if your public entity uses personal vehicles for business activities, most personal auto policies have exclusions for commercial use. With this in mind, commercial auto insurance is crucial to consider.

If a covered individual is involved in an accident while driving a commercial vehicle, commercial auto coverage can help pay for injuries, property damage, fatalities and other financial liabilities that may result.

Boiler and Machinery

Boiler and machinery insurance (BM) can help with the cost of physical damage and financial loss caused by an equipment breakdown. Also commonly known as “equipment breakdown insurance,” it can cover the cost of repairing or replacing damaged or destroyed equipment and compensating you for losses incurred because of the breakdown.

Boiler and machinery insurance can cover a wide range of equipment including:

  • Refrigeration Units
  • HVAC Systems
  • Furnaces
  • Boilers
  • Office Equipment

Similar to commercial property insurance that helps reduce the risk of financial ruin from damage to your buildings and land, equipment breakdown insurance helps protect your equipment and the value it creates. This coverage can pay for damage caused by power surges, extreme weather and other perils.

Errors and Omissions (E&O)

Working in the public sphere involves a unique set of legal risks. Whether your public entity gets sued for negligence or a simple misunderstanding, lawsuits are an unavoidable part of public work.

Unlike directors and officers insurance (D&O), which only extends coverage to executives, errors and omissions insurance (E&O) can offer protection for all members of a public entity. If you work with the public, render advice or provide goods and services, E&O insurance can assist with the costs of defending a lawsuit alleging damages caused by an error or omission made by one of your members.

Employment Practices

Employment practices liability insurance (EPLI) can protect against the risks involved with hiring, firing and managing employees. This coverage can help pay for the costs of legal defense and settlements in response to a lawsuit alleging: 

  • Retaliation 
  • Discrimination 
  • Sexual Harassment 
  • Wrongful Termination

In many cases, EPLI can also help with the cost of defending against claims of invasion of privacy, deprivation of career opportunities, negligent evaluation and failure to promote. 

Sexual Abuse & Molestation

Defined as “attempted or alleged criminal sexual conduct of a person or persons acting in concert,” sexual abuse and molestation is an issue under scrutiny in the public sector. If a member of your public entity faces accusations of abuse or molestation, this coverage can help pay for legal defense, court costs, settlements and other expenses.

Law Enforcement Liability

Law enforcement liability coverage can mitigate some of the financial risks involved with working as a law enforcement professional. If you run a police department, sheriff’s office or other law enforcement organization, this coverage is recommended. Should you face a civil suit alleging wrongdoing or misconduct, your law enforcement liability insurance can help with the costs of legal defense, court fees, settlement payments and more.

Educators Legal Liability

Tailored to the risks faced by schools and educational institutions, educators legal liability insurance can help with the cost of defending allegations of wrongful acts committed by employees, volunteers and students. Covering a broad spectrum of risks including discrimination, failure to educate, libel, slander, wrongful termination and denial of tenure, this coverage can help safeguard an entity and its members against financial ruin from a lawsuit. 

While educators legal liability insurance can offer vast protections, it does not cover deliberate acts, fraud and other crimes. 

Cyber Insurance

If you work with sensitive personal or financial information, you may need cyber liability insurance. Collecting third-party personal data for business use carries serious legal risks. Considering the large volume of data most municipalities store, public sector organizations are a perfect target for a cyberattack.

Whether perpetrated by employees or outsiders, you may be legally liable for the data they collect.

Cyber liability insurance can help after a breach. This coverage can help with the cost of recovering lost or stolen data, forensic analysis, crisis management, legal defense, notification and more.

Workers’ Compensation

Workers’ compensation insurance is key for any organization with employees, including public entities. Designed to help with the costs of an employee injury on the job, workers’ comp can pay medical bills, lost wages, legal fees and more. 

Student Accident Insurance

If you run a school or other public organization that works with students, you need to consider student accident insurance. This coverage is important for educational and youth outreach organizations to consider. Picking up where your general liability coverage ends, student accident insurance can help pay for injuries and fatalities sustained by students under your care during extracurricular activities such as field trips, sporting events and work-study programs.  

This coverage can help you pay for post-accident care, including: 

  • Permanent and Total Disability 
  • Medical Expenses 
  • Dental Expenses 
  • Dismemberment 
  • Paralysis 
  • Fractures  

Don’t wait until an accident happens to start thinking about coverage.

Underground Storage Tank (UST)

If you own or operate an underground storage tank (UST), you’re likely required by law to maintain the resources to clean up a spill and compensate third parties for damages. Failure to maintain financial responsibility can result in fines and a lawsuit if something goes wrong.

Underground storage tank insurance can help limit your liability. This coverage can help pay for cleanup costs and other damage sustained to third-party property after a spill or other incident involving your underground storage tank.

Special Event Insurance

Special events are a regular part of doing business as a public entity. Anytime you sponsor or host a public gathering, you can be held legally liable for injuries or damages that may arise.  

Considering that many rental facilities are underinsured, relying on their coverage may create considerable risk exposure. That’s why it’s advisable to carry special events coverage if you organize, hold or sponsor public events, even if you just rent event space to the public. In many cases, you can be held legally liable for injuries to third parties sustained on your property, regardless of who organized the event or activity that caused them. 


Public Entity Loss Prevention

At Higginbotham, we are more than public entity insurance professionals.

We’re your second in command, even after we place your coverage with one of our top-rated insurance carriers.

Higginbotham delivers year-round value with our Day Two Services® that provide everything you need to manage your risks, limit your liability, administer your employee benefit plans and control your costs.

Our staff includes licensed attorneys who will examine the language in your contracts from a risk management and insurance perspective to help ensure you’re covered for every risk you assume.

We work hard to help you avoid claims, but if you do experience a loss, our licensed claims adjusters work with your insurance carrier for a fair and prompt resolution.

 

Meet Our Public Entity Insurance Practice Leader

Brian Schneider, managing director in our Fort Worth office, began his career on the insurance carrier side. He transitioned to Higginbotham more than a decade ago when he recognized the need to provide broader market solutions as well as a consultative approach for his clients. Brian and the Public Sector Team insure over 300 schools and municipalities. Beyond the premium volume and placement of coverage, they bring numerous resources their clients throughout the year.

They have specialty coverage solutions unique to public entities as well as a team of risk management professionals that are trained and ready to serve the client’s needs.

Brian holds a Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC) designation.

Managing Director
Brian Schneider
Managing Director, LinkedIn
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Work with a public entity insurance specialist who knows your industry.

A great plan starts with a conversation. Let’s talk about what you need.

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