On Fiduciary Bonds and Fiduciary Insurance

Well, I suppose nothing could be located more squarely at the intersection of the two topics in this blog’s title than the difference between fiduciary liability insurance (which lets fiduciaries sleep at night) and fiduciary bonds (which protects a plan’s assets, rather than insuring the fiduciaries themselves). Scott Simmonds, who consults, writes and blogs on business insurance issues (and other things) provides this nice overview of this issue, distinguishing among the range of insurance products and bonds that come into play in running an ERISA governed benefit plan:

The Fiduciary Responsibility Liability Insurance Policy is the solution to the ERISA problem [of personal liability of fiduciaries]. Also called a FRIP, the policy provides protection for "wrongful acts" that result in a claim against the administrator of benefit plans. Premiums range from a few hundred dollars to thousands, depending on the size of the employer.

By the way, many people confuse ERISA fiduciary liability with the ERISA bond requirement. The law mandates that employee pension and retirement plans have a bond of 10% of the assets (up to $500,000) to cover loss of the funds through embezzlement. Some fiduciary policies include the fidelity coverage. Most do not.

Some businesses and insurance agents confuse employee benefit liability insurance with the FRIP. Bad call! The FRIP covers errors and omissions in the administration of benefit plans. The employee benefit liability policy covers mistakes but excludes ERISA liabilities.
 

I have written before (such as here, for instance) about the importance of properly structuring insurance programs to protect company officers, and making sure that gaps don't appear that may leave them exposed to personal liability.  Scott's commentary targets this exact same point in structuring insurance programs for protecting fiduciaries of ERISA governed plans.