Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Importance of Insurance

When people hear the term “insurance,” they automatically assume that it is some form of coverage broadly defined in general terms. What many do not realize is that insurance is so much more than simple coverage for accidents and other unforeseen events, and being properly insured is an important aspect of doing business.

Insurance should perform a very crucial function: to protect a person or business entering into a transaction. One cannot always shift risk and responsibility to another party in the transaction.

The type and amount of insurance necessary is critical. Those who may have insurance may not be covered for what is actually needed, and those who have the proper type may not have enough to cover the potential damages one is exposed to in a business transaction. The specifics are dangerous traps, and many do not read between the lines where they should.

For instance, I have a Clinical Research client I formed in 2008. Clinical Research Organizations (CROs) assist in the testing of experimental drugs from conception through FDA approval.Once the company was up and running, they spoke with a broker who obtained an insurance policy.Six months later, they asked me to evaluate whether they were property covered for their particular line of work.

They were not.

The broker had simply procured them a medical malpractice policy, even though a CRO does not practice medicine. There was a specific exclusion in the policy precluding testing for administration of drug trials, which is exactly what a CRO does.

For six months they were operating with no insurance protection. I was able to put the client in touch with a qualified broker and obtain a full refund of the premium they had paid for the useless coverage. Legal advice regarding the adequacy of insurance is critical.

I have another client who contracted with a tile contractor who worked on condominiums for six full years before realizing that the insurance company had included a condominium exclusion that the contractor was unaware of. Unfortunately, the exclusion was discovered too late and my client and the tile subcontractor incurred substantial unanticipated costs due to the exclusion. Although the condominium exclusion was never blatantly stated, it was clearly within the policy and no coverage was provided.

The bottom line is, if you want protection during your transactions, you need to have the right insurance. And to get the right insurance, legal advice regarding the adequacy and sufficiency of insurance is critical.