Boards & Governance
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Ray Wizbowski
Chief Marketing Officer

Demystifying D&O insurance: Why it matters and how to choose the right coverage

February 27, 2024
0 min read
corporate secretary and governance professionals discussing different D&O insurance policies

Directors and Officers (D&O) insurance is a critical component of effective corporate governance, yet it can often be shrouded in complexity.

This blog post aims to demystify D&O insurance, addressing frequently asked questions to empower corporate secretaries, governance professionals and board members with a clear understanding of its purpose and considerations for choosing the right policy.

What is D&O insurance?

D&O insurance is a specialized liability insurance policy that protects current and past directors and officers (D&Os) of a company against financial losses arising from lawsuits alleging wrongful acts in their official capacities. These allegations can encompass:

  • Breach of fiduciary duty: This refers to failing to act in the best interests of the company and its shareholders.
  • Misrepresentation of financial statements: This could involve deliberate or unintentional inaccuracies in financial reporting.
  • Employment practices: This includes allegations of discrimination, wrongful termination or harassment against employees.
  • Regulatory breaches: This covers violations of laws and regulations applicable to the company's operations.

Why is D&O insurance important for boards?

D&O insurance plays a crucial role in safeguarding boards by offering several key benefits:

  • Financial protection: D&O insurance covers defense costs, settlements and judgments associated with lawsuits against individual board members. Without this coverage, directors' personal assets could be at risk, even if they are ultimately exonerated.
  • Attracting and retaining talent: D&O insurance demonstrates the company's commitment to supporting its board and protecting them from personal liability. This can be crucial for attracting and retaining qualified individuals to serve on the board.
  • Promoting confident decision-making: Knowing they are covered encourages directors to make informed and responsible decisions without undue fear of personal repercussions. This fosters a more engaged and effective board.
  • Enhanced corporate governance: D&O insurance reinforces the principles of good corporate governance by demonstrating a commitment to protecting stakeholders and fostering a culture of responsible leadership.

What are the different types of D&O insurance coverage?

D&O insurance policies come in various forms, each offering specific coverage options:

  • Side-A Coverage: This protects individual directors and officers from personal liability for lawsuits alleging wrongful acts.
  • Side-B Coverage: This protects the company itself from having to indemnify its directors and officers when they are found liable.
  • Side-C Coverage: This covers entities other than directors and officers, such as committees or the company itself, for claims arising out of their governance activities.

What are the key considerations when choosing a D&O insurance policy?

Selecting the right D&O insurance policy involves careful consideration of several factors:

  • Coverage limits: These determine the maximum amount the insurer will pay for claims.
  • Deductibles: This is the portion of the claim the company must pay before the insurance kicks in.
  • Exclusions: It's crucial to understand any specific actions or situations not covered by the policy.
  • Cost: Premiums for D&O insurance can vary based on company size, industry, risk profile and chosen coverage options.
  • Reputation and experience of the insurer: Selecting a reputable and experienced insurance provider is essential.

What are other important points to remember about D&O insurance?

There are a few key points to keep in mind as you consider different D&O insurance policies:

  • D&O insurance is not a shield for misconduct: It does not protect individuals from intentionally wrong or illegal actions.
  • Maintaining good corporate governance practices: Implementing strong policies and procedures can help mitigate risk and potentially lower insurance premiums.
  • Regular review and updates: D&O insurance policies should be reviewed and updated periodically to reflect any changes in the company's risk profile or legal landscape.

Promoting strong corporate governance and responsibility

D&O insurance plays a vital role in supporting effective board governance, especially as risks and liability issues continue to evolve.

With careful planning and consideration, governance professionals and board members can work together to ensure proper coverage is in place, fostering a climate of confidence, responsible decision-making and strong corporate governance.


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