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Jeff on Call: Employment Practices Liability Insurance

Jan 13, 2010

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Q: Do I need EPL (Employment Practices Liability) insurance?

A: EPL is very expensive coverage, but it is essential if you employ recruiters, have more than one office, place temps or contractors, or are an absentee owner. It covers costs of defense (the “duty to defend”), has the indemnity (claim coverage) provision, and a deductible.

It covers everything from discrimination to wrongful termination claims. There are usually many witnesses, the cases can be complicated, and government agencies are often involved. So the costs of defense can be high.

In employee lawsuits, owners and managers are typically named as defendants. Having this insurance may either give you protection or motivate plaintiffs to focus on corporate responsibility — because they know the “deep pockets” of insurance will be involved.

Not only are the costs of defense high, but the claims can be astronomical. Back pay is much less than front pay which is theoretically unlimited. The case law usually limits it to three years, but decisions vary widely. Fines, penalties, and taxes are often added.

If you risk this, check with your broker. Review the costs and coverage, carefully read the policies yourself, and select the highest deductible you can withstand. (Don’t worry about which carrier you use, but make sure it’s one with sufficient reserves.)

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