The Benefits of Professional Liability Insurance for Federal Employees

By Peter Noone

The following contains information and practical advice about the benefits of professional liability insurance for federal employees. Obtaining the protection of professional liability insurance is often a career-saving decision for many individuals who work for the federal government. You may already carry this type of insurance. If you do not, we recommend you visit the CareerGuard website.

CareerGuard is a product offered by the Mass Benefits insurance company. Although we do not work for Mass Benefits, for many years the company has hired our firm to represent its federal employee policyholders in need of representation, and we are listed by Mass Benefits as their preferred law firm.This means that if you purchase this product and need legal services, Mass Benefits will likely select our firm to provide those services.

Who Needs Professional Liability Insurance?

Each year, professional liability insurance from Mass Benefits operates to save the careers of countless federal employees. Federal employees are often directly involved in litigation, investigations, discipline, and civil rights or constitutional complaints in U.S. District Court. Those who are the targets of—or are involved in—lawsuits, disciplinary actions, Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) complaints, administrative investigations, and even criminal investigations often require the advice, assistance, and representation from lawyers with experience in such matters involving the federal government.

In today’s litigious and uncertain climate, it is more important than ever for federal employees and managers to protect themselves with professional liability insurance from Mass Benefits. Mass Benefits protects federal employees who are policyholders from the exorbitant costs of defending themselves against matters that arise during the course and scope of their federal employment. The protection is available for all types of federal employees, including:

  • Executive, legislative, and judicial branch employees
  • Law enforcement officers
  • Defense and intelligence agency employees
  • Union stewards and union employees
  • Doctors and nurses
  • Administrative law judges, other types of judges, and attorneys

These insurance policies provide protection to all levels of federal employees ranging from upper management and Senior Executive Service (SES) officials to line employees, and they cover probationary, temporary, term, politically appointed, and fully tenured employees.

Although thousands of federal employees have already availed themselves of professional liability policies with Mass Benefits, thousands more persist in the mistaken belief that other services offer all the protection they need. Even when other entities—including unions, the Department of Justice (DOJ), or agency counsel—offer legal representation, federal employees need their own personal representation by an experienced attorney whose sole responsibility is to the employee, not the federal government. More often than not, the government cannot or will not offer any representation, and federal employees are left on their own to hire an attorney—at their own cost—to protect their interests.

Coverage Areas

The following summary does not cover every situation, and coverage for each claim is decided by the insurance company on a case-by-case basis. Still, the following actions against federal employees are typically covered by CareerGuard Professional Liability Insurance:

  • The defense of investigations for actions of federal employees that occurred during the course and scope of their employment.

    • The types of investigations covered include criminal, administrative, disciplinary, Weingarten, security clearance, suitability, discrimination, retaliation, hostile work environment, whistleblower, Hatch Act, unfair labor practice, and bias. The investigations may be conducted by any governmental entity, such as: local agency management, Office of Inspector General (OIG), Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR), Internal Affairs (IA), a U.S. Attorney’s Office, Congress, Office of Special Counsel (OSC), Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA), or other federal, state, or local entities.
  • The defense of disciplinary actions ranging from a reprimand to removal from federal service.
    • The policy will provide counsel during an agency’s internal proposal, reply, and decision stages, as well as up through an appeal to the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) or arbitration.
  • The defense of other adverse agency actions, including indefinite suspensions, security clearance actions, and suitability actions.
  • The defense of lawsuits against federal employees for matters that arise as a result of their actions on the job, such as EEO complaints, U.S. District Court complaints, Bivens cases, and OSC-initiated actions.
  • The defense of criminal prosecutions brought in state or federal court for work-related criminal misconduct.

Although the coverage is comprehensive, some areas that are typically not covered by professional liability insurance are:

  • Performance-based actions
  • Offensive actions, such as EEO complaints that are brought by the policyholder
  • Off-duty misconduct

Obtaining Coverage

Fortunately, obtaining CareerGuard protection is easy and affordable. Professional Liability Insurance from Mass Benefits is inexpensive, and the protection it offers so valuable that I recommend it to all my clients. I know of no better way federal employees can protect themselves and their livelihoods than to purchase a policy.

Through our Federal Employment Law Practice, I have witnessed the enormous benefit for federal employees who have protected themselves and their careers with a professional liability insurance policy from Mass Benefits. Too often, I have also seen federal employees unable to fully defend their jobs because they failed to carry insurance and thus could not afford the services of an attorney.

Visit Mass Benefits to find more information about the benefits of a CareerGuard professional liability insurance policy. As a policyholder, you will have access to experienced attorneys you can trust to be familiar with federal employment law’s unique rules, procedures, and forums.  We advise you to consider purchasing professional liability insurance from Mass Benefits and welcome you to pass this professional advice on to your colleagues who work for the federal government. We know you will enjoy the peace of mind that comes from knowing that your career and your family’s financial future are protected. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.

This communication may be considered attorney advertising under the rules of some states. The information and materials contained herein have been provided as a service by the law firm of Avery Dooley & Noone, LLP; however, the information and materials do not, and are not intended to, constitute legal advice. Neither transmission nor receipt of such information and materials will create an attorney-client relationship between the sender and receiver. The hiring of an attorney is an important decision that should not be based solely upon advertisements or solicitations. Users are advised not to take, or refrain from taking, any action based upon the information and materials contained herein without consulting legal counsel engaged for a particular matter.