Protecting your community officials with liability insurance
Carrying liability insurance helps protect officials in the event of a lawsuit, but it is important to work with your municipal attorney to review the policy’s scope of coverage to ensure that your community’s coverage needs are met.
Does your municipality carry liability insurance? This is definitely not a question you want to be asking after a lawsuit has already been filed: by then it may be too late and you will find yourself regretting that you had not done so earlier.
Liability insurance is simply an insurance that protects against lawsuits or other similar claims (that are covered under the policy, as outlined in the policy) arising from injuries or damage to other people or property.
In Michigan, municipalities are not required to carry liability insurance for all officials, although it may be a good idea and a wise practice to carry it for them. Even if you have a policy, you may want to review that policy to determine who is covered, the extent of that coverage and if there are any officials not currently covered that should be. Also, protection may vary depending on the type of employment classification of certain officials, such as zoning administrators and building inspectors. These types of positions tend to carry greater liability and their actions are often the source of many lawsuits, whether frivolous or legitimate. Several Michigan State University Extension training programs, including the upcoming Michigan Zoning Administrator Certificate Program, discuss in detail liability issues.
If your municipality is unsure of the extent of its liability insurance or whether it even carries liability insurance, you should contact your municipality’s attorney to discuss options and determine which type of coverage is right for your community. This is one phone call you will never regret!