Matt Hands, VP, Insurance and MoneySense
Directors and officers liability insurance is a type of business insurance that protects companies financially if a director or officer is held legally liable for their actions (e.g. employee malpractice, reporting error). Whether you operate in the non-profit, public, and private sector, having a D&O insurance policy can cover the cost of legal fees and compensatory damages, allowing you to protect your business financially for the long run.
Directors and officers insurance can also be referred to as:
- D&O insurance
- D&O liability insurance
- Directors liability insurance
- Directors and officers liability insurance
- Board of directors liability insurance
- A type of management liability insurance
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A common misconception is that only large corporations need directors and officers liability insurance. However, small businesses and privately held companies are not immune to expensive claims just because there are fewer shareholders. In fact, small business owners can face more financial burden from a lawsuit against its directors and officers if they lack the resources and preparation.
Therefore, if your business has a corporate board, board of directors, or an advisory committee, consider adding D&O liability insurance to your commercial policy. You don’t need to be making millions to face a lawsuit against your actions as a manager. This includes businesses in the public, private, and non-profit sectors.
After your business files for bankruptcy, you’re held personally liable for the unpaid wages of your employees.
Several employees claim your management team created a hostile work environment, violated regulations, and delivered poor governance.
Investors hold your board of directors liable after your business reports its financial state on an income statement incorrectly.
A directors and officers liability insurance package covers the cost of legal fees and other costs associated with a lawsuit (e.g. losses, indemnification), against a director or officer of your business. This can include:
- Alleged claims of employment malpractice
- Inaccurate disclosures
- Regulation violations
- Errors in reporting
- Breaches of fiduciary duty
- Poor corporate governance
Insurance companies typically offer D&O liability policies with three different clauses: Side A, Side B, and Side C.
Side A: Directors and officers liability
Side B: Company reimbursement
Side C: Entities coverage
The average cost of D&O insurance
The cost of D&O insurance varies according to the circumstances of each business, but you can expect to pay between $5,000 to $10,000 annually for $1 million in coverage. Smaller, low-risk businesses could see premiums as low as $500 each year for directors and officers liability insurance.compare quotes
Your risk level varies according to the type of business you operate. So if your business is at a low-risk of making a D&O claim (e.g. small startups), your directors and officers insurance premium will be lower. High-stake businesses, such as large public corporations with many managers, face higher costs each month for a D&O policy, simply due to the increased likelihood of a lawsuit.
Number of employees
The larger your company is in size, the more expensive your D&O insurance policy will be. Having more employees means there are more chances of a mistake being made. Anyone on your board of directors or advisor committee could breach their fiduciary duties or report an error, causing an expensive claim for your insurer to deal with.
The more experience you have in your industry, the less you’ll be paying for your directors liability insurance. As a seasoned professional, you can show insurers that you’re competent in doing your job without issues arising. On the other hand, if you lack the job experience, you may be paying higher premiums for a while.
Revenue and financial position
Bringing in high revenues typically increases your D&O quote because third parties (e.g. employees, investors) can ask for more in compensation during a legal battle, knowing the business revenue is sustainable. However, if your business is in a good financial position, meaning you probably won’t go bankrupt, insurance companies can also lower your premium due to the reduced likelihood of a bankruptcy claim.
Business insurance history
Your business insurance history plays a large role in determining your D&O insurance quote. If you have a clean, claims-free history, insurers can offer a lower price as it shows you’ve been historically responsible with your business. Having several claims in the past, however, can increase your premium as it shows you're likely to make another one.
Do nonprofits need D&O insurance?
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Matt Hands, Business Director of Insurance
With 6+ years of experience at Ratehub.ca, Matt’s focus has been on growing its newest business unit, Insurance. He is a thought leader and a valuable resource to respected publications across Canada. read full bio
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