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d&o insurance for nonprofits

D&O Insurance for NonprofitsNonprofit executives tirelessly work to steer their organizations toward fulfilling their missions, often navigating through complex challenges and making tough decisions that can have far-reaching impacts. While focused on advancing your cause, it’s equally important to safeguard the personal and organizational welfare against potential legal risks arising from those decisions. Directors and Officers (D&O) insurance is a specialized form of coverage designed to protect the personal assets of your board members and officers, as well as the financial health of your nonprofit organization, in the event of legal action.

As a nonprofit leader, understanding the nuances of D&O insurance is crucial. It provides peace of mind and ensures that your organization can continue to attract and retain high-caliber individuals willing to serve on your board. In this article, we’ll delve into the key aspects of D&O insurance tailored for nonprofit organizations, discuss its importance, and provide guidance on how to evaluate and choose the right coverage for your unique needs. Whether you’re a seasoned executive or new to the nonprofit realm, this information will empower you to make informed decisions about protecting your mission and the people who dedicate themselves to it.

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Understanding D&O Insurance for Nonprofits

Definition and Importance

Directors and Officers (D&O) insurance is a specialized form of liability insurance tailored to protect the personal assets of the directors and officers of an organization, as well as the financial well-being of the organization itself, against legal actions. D&O insurance is particularly critical for nonprofit organizations due to the unique risks these entities face. Nonprofit board members and officers often make decisions that could lead to legal actions against them or the organization, including those related to its finances, operations, and employment practices.

Since many nonprofits operate with limited financial resources, a single lawsuit could significantly impact the organization’s ability to continue its mission. Moreover, without D&O insurance, individuals may face personal financial exposure, deterring qualified and experienced individuals from joining nonprofit boards, thus limiting their effectiveness and diversity.

Coverage Scope

D&O insurance for nonprofits covers a wide range of potential legal actions that could arise from the decisions and actions of its board members and officers. The primary areas of coverage include:

– **Legal Defense Costs and Damages**: D&O insurance provides coverage for legal defense costs, settlements, and judgments arising from claims related to alleged wrongful acts, errors, or omissions committed by board members in their capacity as directors or officers of the nonprofit. This can include costs associated with both actual and alleged breaches of duty.

– **Breach of Fiduciary Duty**: This is one of the most common claims against directors and officers, involving allegations that they failed to act in the organization’s best interest. Fiduciary duties can include responsibly managing the organization’s assets and making decisions that benefit the nonprofit’s mission and stakeholders.

– **Wrongful Termination and Employment Practices Liability**: Nonprofits are not immune to employment-related claims, such as wrongful termination, discrimination, harassment, and other employment practice violations. D&O insurance often includes or can be extended to include Employment Practices Liability Insurance (EPLI), which covers these claims. This is particularly important as employment-related claims can be among the most costly for organizations to defend against.

– **Financial Mismanagement**: Claims of financial mismanagement against directors and officers can arise from allegations of improper handling of the nonprofit’s funds, investments, or accounting practices. D&O insurance protects against claims alleging that financial mismanagement led to losses for the organization or its stakeholders.

– **Other Covered Claims**: Depending on the policy, D&O insurance for nonprofits can also cover claims related to errors in judgment, misleading statements, failure to comply with regulations or laws, and other acts or omissions that result in financial loss or other damages to the organization or third parties. Some policies may also offer protection against specific risks, such as cyber liability, which covers financial losses associated with data breaches or cyber-attacks.

Evaluating Your Nonprofit's Need for D&O Insurance

Risk Assessment

Regardless of their size or mission, nonprofits operate in an environment that can present various legal and financial risks. These risks can stem from multiple activities and decisions the organization’s board members and officers make. Nonprofits should conduct a comprehensive risk assessment to effectively evaluate the need for Directors and Officers (D&O) insurance. This process involves identifying potential legal challenges and understanding the specific risks associated with the organization’s operations.

The first step in risk assessment is to review the nonprofit’s activities, programs, and overall mission. This includes examining contracts, agreements, fundraising activities, employment practices, and compliance with federal and state regulations. Nonprofits should pay close attention to vulnerable areas such as financial management, employment practices, and regulatory compliance.

Another critical aspect of risk assessment is analyzing the organization’s past incidents or legal challenges. This historical perspective can provide valuable insights into potential future risks. For example, if a nonprofit has previously faced employment-related lawsuits, it may be at higher risk for similar issues.

Nonprofits should also consider the external environment in which they operate. Changes in laws, regulations, or societal expectations can introduce new risks. Staying informed about legal and regulatory developments that affect nonprofit organizations is essential for effective risk management.

Board Members and Officers

The individuals who serve as board members and officers of a nonprofit organization play a crucial role in its success and sustainability. They make significant decisions that affect the organization’s direction, financial health, and compliance with laws and regulations. Given the importance of their roles, protecting these individuals from personal financial loss due to legal actions taken against them or the organization is paramount.

Board members and officers can face personal liability for various reasons, including breaches of fiduciary duties, employment practices liabilities, and financial mismanagement claims. These liabilities can arise from actions taken in their official capacities, making D&O insurance an essential tool for protection.

D&O insurance covers legal defense costs, settlements, and judgments arising from lawsuits alleging wrongful acts by directors and officers. This coverage is crucial because it protects the personal assets of board members and officers and ensures that the nonprofit can continue to attract and retain qualified individuals willing to serve in these critical roles.

Key Features of D&O Insurance Policies

insurance for nonprofitsPolicy Limits and Deductibles

The policy limits and deductibles are two critical components of Directors and Officers (D&O) insurance policies that significantly influence the scope of coverage and the cost of premiums. Understanding these features is essential for nonprofit organizations to ensure adequate protection at a manageable cost.

**Policy Limits** refer to the maximum amount the insurance company will pay for covered claims during the policy period. These limits can vary widely depending on the organization’s size, the perceived level of risk, and the specific needs of the nonprofit. Standard policy limits for D&O insurance range from $1 million to $5 million, but larger organizations or those with higher risk profiles may require higher limits. It’s important to note that the policy limit encompasses indemnification (payments made on behalf of the insured parties) and defense costs (legal fees and expenses), which can consume a significant portion of the limit.

**Deductibles**, also known as self-insured retentions, represent the amount the nonprofit must pay out of pocket before the insurance coverage kicks in. Deductibles can range from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands, depending on the policy terms and the organization’s risk tolerance. Higher deductibles generally result in lower premium costs, but they also mean greater financial responsibility for the nonprofit in case of a claim. Choosing the right deductible involves balancing the desire for lower premiums with the organization’s ability to absorb potential losses.

Exclusions and Endorsements

**Exclusions** are specific situations or types of claims not covered by the D&O insurance policy. Understanding these exclusions is crucial for nonprofits to identify potential gaps in coverage and to make informed decisions about additional protections that may be needed. Standard exclusions in D&O policies include:

– **Fraud and Criminal Acts**: Most D&O policies exclude coverage for claims arising from fraudulent, criminal, or intentional wrongful acts committed by directors or officers. However, coverage is typically provided for defense costs until a final adjudication establishes such conduct.

– **Bodily Injury and Property Damage**: Claims related to bodily injury or property damage are generally covered under general liability policies, not D&O insurance.

– **Prior Acts and Known Circumstances**: Claims arising from wrongful acts that occurred before the policy’s retroactive date or from circumstances that were known to the insured before the policy inception may be excluded.

**Endorsements** are add-ons or modifications to the standard D&O policy that provide additional coverage or alter the terms of the policy. Endorsements can be used to address specific risks or to fill coverage gaps identified through the exclusion list. Some common endorsements for nonprofit D&O policies include:

– **Employment Practices Liability (EPL)**: This endorsement extends coverage to include claims related to employment practices, such as discrimination, harassment, wrongful termination, and other employment-related issues.

– **Outside Directorship Liability (ODL)**: ODL coverage protects directors and officers when they serve on the board of another organization at the nonprofit’s request.

– **Cyber Liability**: Given the increasing risk of cyber threats, some D&O policies offer endorsements for cyber liability, covering losses related to data breaches, cyber extortion, and other cyber-related incidents.

The Cost of D&O Insurance for Nonprofits

The cost of Directors and Officers (D&O) insurance for nonprofit organizations can vary widely based on several factors, making it challenging to pinpoint a specific price without considering the organization’s unique characteristics. However, understanding the factors that influence premiums can help nonprofits understand potential costs.

Factors Influencing Premiums

**Size and Scope of the Organization**: Larger nonprofits with more significant assets and revenues typically face higher D&O insurance costs due to the increased potential for claims. The scope of activities and the geographic areas served can also impact premiums.

**Type of Activities**: Nonprofits engaged in activities with higher perceived risks, such as providing medical services, may have higher insurance costs. The specific mission and operations of the organization play a crucial role in determining the risk profile.

**Claims History**: Organizations with a history of D&O claims may face higher premiums due to the increased likelihood of future claims. Insurers view past claims as indicators of potential risk.

**Board Composition and Experience**: Board members’ and officers’ experience and qualifications can influence premiums. A board with members who have significant experience and a track record of sound governance may help lower insurance costs.

**Financial Health**: The financial stability of the nonprofit can impact D&O insurance costs. Organizations with solid financial footing may be viewed as lower risk.

**Policy Limits and Deductibles**: Higher policy limits and lower deductibles increase the insurer’s potential payout, leading to higher premiums. Conversely, lower limits and higher deductibles can reduce the cost.

General Cost Range

Given these variables, D&O insurance premiums for nonprofits can range from a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars annually. Smaller nonprofits with lower risk profiles might expect to pay between $600 to $2,000 per year. In comparison, larger organizations or those engaged in higher-risk activities could see premiums of $5,000 to $10,000 or more annually. It’s important to note that these figures are general estimates, and actual premiums can vary significantly based on the abovementioned factors.

Obtaining Accurate Quotes

Nonprofits should work with an insurance broker or agent who specializes in nonprofit insurance to get an accurate estimate of D&O insurance costs. These professionals can provide tailored quotes based on the organization’s needs, risk profile, and coverage requirements. Additionally, they can offer advice on risk management practices that may help reduce insurance costs over time.

Choosing the Right D&O Insurance Provider

Comparing Providers

When selecting a Directors and Officers (D&O) insurance provider for a nonprofit organization, it’s essential to conduct a thorough comparison to ensure that the chosen insurer can offer the necessary protection and support. Here are key factors to consider:

Financial Stability: Check the financial strength ratings of insurance providers through rating agencies such as A.M. Best, Moody’s, or Standard & Poor’s. A high rating indicates an insurer’s ability to pay claims.

– **Claims Handling Reputation**: Research the insurer’s reputation for handling claims. Look for feedback on their responsiveness, fairness, and ease of the claims process. This information can often be found through reviews or by asking for references.

– **Coverage Specialization**: I prefer providers that specialize in nonprofit D&O insurance, as they will better understand the unique risks and needs of nonprofit organizations.

– **Policy Terms and Conditions**: Review the policy terms, including coverage limits, deductibles, exclusions, and any available endorsements. Ensure the terms align with the nonprofit’s risk profile and coverage needs.

Customer Service and Support: Consider the insurer’s level of customer service. It is crucial to have access to knowledgeable representatives who can answer questions and provide guidance.

– **Cost**: While not the only factor, the cost of the policy should be competitive. Compare premiums for similar levels of coverage to ensure the nonprofit is getting a fair price.

– **Additional Services**: Some insurers offer value-added services such as risk management resources, training for board members, and legal advice. These services can be beneficial for nonprofits looking to reduce their risk exposure.

Working with an Independent Insurance Agent, Blake Insurance Group

Working with an independent insurance agent, such as Blake Insurance Group, offers several advantages for nonprofits seeking D&O insurance:

– **Multiple Quotes**: Independent agents can provide quotes from multiple insurance providers, allowing nonprofits to compare various options.

– **Unbiased Advice**: Unlike agents who work for a single insurer, independent agents can offer unbiased advice on the best coverage options for the nonprofit’s specific needs.

– **Personalized Service**: Agents like those at Blake Insurance Group can offer personalized service, taking the time to understand the nonprofit’s mission, activities, and risk profile to recommend suitable coverage.

– **Expertise in Nonprofit Insurance**: Independent agents with experience in the nonprofit sector can provide insights into the unique challenges and risks these organizations face.

– **Assistance with Policy Management**: From selecting the right policy to assisting with claims and reviewing coverage as the nonprofit grows or changes, independent agents can provide ongoing support and policy management.

top Directors and Officers (D&O) insurance companies

The leading D&O insurance companies are distinguished by their market share, financial stability, and the breadth of their coverage options. Based on available data, here are some of the top D&O insurance companies, along with an explanation of their standing in the industry:


AXA SA holds a significant position in the U.S. D&O insurance market, with approximately 17% of the overall market share as of the first quarter of 2022. The company’s substantial market presence indicates its broad acceptance and trust within the corporate sector. AXA’s ability to maintain a leading position reflects its financial stability, comprehensive coverage options, and strong reputation for claims handling. The insurer reported $449.17 million in direct premiums written during the first quarter, marking a year-over-year premium increase of 9.7%.

Chubb Ltd.

Chubb Ltd. is another major player in the D&O insurance market, controlling 9% of the U.S. market in the first quarter of 2022. With $249.38 million in direct premiums written, Chubb’s offerings are well-regarded for their extensive coverage and customization options. The company’s financial strength and global reach make it a preferred choice for many corporations seeking D&O insurance. Chubb’s policies are designed to address a wide range of liability issues, providing peace of mind to directors and officers.

Tokio Marine Holdings Inc.

Tokio Marine Holdings Inc. captured 8% of the U.S. D&O market in the first quarter of 2022, with $209.76 million in direct premiums written. The company’s significant year-over-year increase in premiums, at 32.7%, is the largest among the top 10 U.S. D&O underwriters. This growth reflects Tokio Marine’s expanding influence and the increasing demand for its D&O insurance products. The company’s commitment to offering tailored solutions that meet the specific needs of its clients has contributed to its success in the market.


Travelers is one of the largest commercial insurers in the U.S., offering a comprehensive suite of risk management products, including D&O insurance. Founded in 1953, Travelers has established itself as a trusted provider with excellent financial strength ratings and customer satisfaction. The company’s approach to selling policies through a large network of independent insurance agents has been well-received, allowing for personalized service and coverage that aligns with each organization’s unique needs.

Liberty Mutual

Liberty Mutual stands out for its specialized offerings in the nonprofit sector, providing flexible coverage options with limits of up to $25 million for private and not-for-profit organizations. The insurer is known for its broad definitions of insureds, employees, wrongful acts, and claim types, which help protect organizations from various D&O liability issues. Although Liberty Mutual’s D&O insurance policies are written by a subsidiary, Ironshore, the company’s commitment to dedicated claims specialists and access to risk management services makes it an excellent choice for nonprofit organizations.

These companies represent some of the leading providers of D&O insurance in the U.S., each with its strengths and areas of specialization. Their ability to offer comprehensive coverage, financial stability, and reputation for excellent claims service make them preferred choices for corporations and nonprofit organizations alike.

What is D&O insurance cover?
D&O insurance covers financial losses and defense costs arising from legal actions brought against a company's directors and officers for alleged wrongful acts in their capacity as leaders of the organization.
What is the purpose of the D&O policy?
The purpose of a D&O policy is to protect the personal assets of directors and officers from claims that may arise due to decisions and actions taken within the scope of their managerial duties, and to cover the legal fees and other costs the organization may incur due to such suits.
What is the difference between D&O and E&O insurance?
D&O insurance specifically protects the directors and officers of a company against personal losses and legal costs from lawsuits related to their management decisions. E&O insurance, or professional liability insurance, protects companies and professionals against claims of inadequate work or negligent actions.
What does D&O not cover?
D&O insurance typically does not cover fraudulent, criminal, or intentionally wrongful acts, claims for bodily injury or property damage, employment-related claims like wrongful termination or discrimination (which are covered by EPLI), and claims related to professional services (covered by E&O).
What is an example of a director and officer claim?
An example of a directors and officers claim could be a lawsuit brought by shareholders against the company's board for making decisions that led to significant financial losses or a drop in stock value.
What is the average D&O coverage limit?
The average D&O coverage limit can vary widely based on the company's size and risk profile, but policies are often provided in $1 million increments.
How much does a D&O policy cost?
The cost of a D&O policy can range from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands annually, depending on factors such as the company's size, industry, risk profile, and claims history.
Does D&O have a deductible?
Yes, D&O policies typically have a deductible or self-insured retention that the insured must pay out-of-pocket before the insurance coverage applies.