The Ultimate Guide to D&O Insurance: Everything You Need to Know in 2023

guide to D&O Insurance

Company leaders often worry about the potential financial repercussions of a lawsuit involving their decisions. This guide to D&O Insurance provides actionable advice on how to choose an appropriate insurance policy, giving readers the key knowledge they need to make more informed decisions around D&O insurance.

From small startups to public companies, it is imperative for businesses of all sizes to invest in this type of coverage which guards against personal financial loss while simultaneously attracting top talent as well as meeting investor obligations.

Here we will address common misconceptions regarding various facets such as exclusions or customization options with regards to D&O Insurance so individuals can make informed choices when selecting plans suitable for their organization’s requirements and goals.

Key Takeaways and Guide to D&O Insurance

  • D&O insurance provides Net Worth Protection for directors, officers, and other company leaders from lawsuits that often arise from the decisions they make in leading a firm.

  • It is essential for companies to have adequate D&O insurance in order to attract top talent and protect against potential liabilities.

  • D&O policies are not standardized forms of coverage so working with a skilled and experienced broker with specific knowledge of D&O Insurance can help you understand the key terms, conditions, and exclusions, of various quotes.

  • Understanding D&O Insurance

guide to d&o insurance

Directors & Officers Liability insurance is commonly called D&O insurance and pays for the costs to defend board members, managers, and employees from legal actions or claims brought by shareholders, creditors, investors, competitors, regulators, and other third parties. It also pays for the eventual settlement of covered claims.

The insuring agreements in this type of policy also protect individual leaders, and their personal assets, from lawsuits that arise, often naming leaders personally for their acts and decisions leading the company. To cover the potential risks of a company’s leadership, including the directors and officers, and those assigned to a company itself, D&O Insurance offers three main coverage parts designed for the particular needs of the insured parties so that they receive appropriate protection at an affordable cost.

The Basics of D&O Insurance

D&O insurance covers defense costs, settlements, and other fees resulting from allegations and claims made against directors, officers, company leaders, managers, and employees.

The coverage is written on a “Claims-Made” policy form and typically is offered to either pay claims on a reimbursement, or indemnity basis; or on a pay-on-behalf of basis.

In an indemnity form, commonly used for larger firms, the insured has the right to direct their own defense hire their own attorneys, and pay for those costs that are reimbursed by the insurer after their retention has been paid.

In a pay-on-behalf policy, more commonly deployed in small and medium-sized companies, the insurer is obligated to undertake the insured’s defense, hire attorneys, and pay costs directly to providers after the retention is paid by the insured.

Retention is similar to a deductible and represents the amount of money the insured pays out-of-pocket before the insurer pays costs.

The Need for D&O Insurance

A comprehensive D&O insurance policy is essential for a company, as it may help attract top talent and protect the organization from possible lawsuits based on malfeasance such as misuse of corporate assets or breach of fiduciary duty.

Venture capital investors and private equity firms often that their investments in companies are contingent upon having adequate coverage provided by an appropriate insurance policy.

Key Components of D&O Insurance Coverage

When it comes to D&O insurance, understanding the three separate insuring agreements – known as Side A, B, and C – is crucial in providing proper protection for directors, officers, and the insured entity.

Customizing a policy so that it fits with other policies such as Employment Practice Liability Insurance or EPLI, Fiduciary Liability Insurance within your organization can help guarantee that adequate cover against legal actions against company leaders has been assured.

Regularly auditing these insurance policies ensures they are tailored accurately to align with the unique risk profiles or structures present inside a company.

Side A Coverage

Company leaders can look to Side A D&O coverage for protection of their personal assets when the company is either unable or declines to indemnify them. Side A provides important cover in the event that the corporation files for bankruptcy.

A separate Side A policy or layer may even be bought as an additional option providing additional peace of mind protection.

Side B Coverage

Side B coverage in D&O insurance is also known as corporate reimbursement coverage. This coverage part will reimburse an insured company for its obligation of indemnifying its directors and officers, while also taking care of the legal liability faced by the company itself.

This kind of insurance coverage makes certain that necessary funds are available to meet these commitments made towards leaders involved after factoring in any retention or deductible amounts applicable.

Side C Coverage

Side C coverage, is known as entity protection, and is a crucial element of an organization’s risk mitigation plan. This Side of D&O insurance safeguards the company and its assets from legal actions related to securities issues, (for public companies) including defense costs associated with securities claims made against them.

For private companies, Side-C coverage protects the entity when it is sued alongside the company’s leaders and provides broadened protection.

Who Needs D&O Insurance?

D&O Insurance

Private companies, public companies, startups, non-profits, and organizations such as homeowners associations and condo/coop boards can all benefit from the security that a comprehensive D&O insurance policy provides.

This type of insurance is designed to safeguard company leaders against potential personal financial loss due to lawsuits associated with their decisions or job roles. It can be used by these organizations in order to attract and retain key staff members while also meeting investor expectations.

Contrary to popular belief, private businesses and small startup ventures have used this sort of protection given by appropriate D&O insurance coverage.

Firms considering a future public offering should consider D&O protection early and amend protection to include road show coverage.

Startups and D&O Insurance

A D&O insurance policy is crucial for startups as it gives assurance to the founders and board members that they are shielded from potential legal cases. It also strengthens investor confidence in a business’s management since having such an insurance plan offers security against financial liabilities associated with funding rounds.

As a result, getting this kind of coverage can create smoother pathways toward acquiring necessary investments. Ensuring everyone involved has protection through obtaining D&O insurance provides important peace-of-mind benefits for all parties concerned when launching or running any type of enterprise venture.

Public Companies and D&O Insurance

Public companies need to have proper D&O insurance coverage in order to protect the directors and officers from potential shareholder lawsuits or regulatory actions. This type of security is vital, not only for safeguarding business executives but also for attracting reliable candidates with leadership qualities who will be willing to work within a private or public company context.

The right kind of policy ensures that they are properly insured against all risks while serving as part of an enterprise’s boardroom team.

Private Firms and D&O Insurance

Private companies rely on D&O insurance to protect their executives from potential legal threats and guarantee they can recruit the best staff. This type of policy provides comprehensive protection against claims, giving private company leaders peace of mind with its prompt and efficient coverage.

Companies Contemplating a Public Offering

Companies that are aiming to launch a public offering should take into consideration obtaining D&O insurance, which can defend the directors and officers from the greater examination as well as potential litigation that often arises in an IPO.

Having a properly written and endorsed D&O Policy in place before going public provides coverage for lawsuits associated with the IPO and assures protection for the company and its leaders. It’s then important to have a public company policy form on standby once the offering is launched.

Proper protection not only safeguards company leaders, it also boosts investor confidence.

Common D&O Insurance Exclusions

The purchase of D&O insurance is a smart move to protect company directors and officers. But, it’s important to note the common exclusions that can affect policy coverage.

Here, we identify the big three: intentional fraud, unlawful activities, (often called conduct exclusions), and claims between insured parties (insured vs. insured exclusion).

Intentional Fraud and Illegal Acts

When it comes to insurance policies, fraudulent and criminal behavior is normally excluded from D&O coverage. This ensures that the policy doesn’t provide any protection for individuals involved in knowingly conducting illicit activities.

However, the “Conduct Exclusion” can be softened by endorsing the policy to include final non-appealable adjudication wording. Here, the policy will provide legal fees and defense costs all the way through the judicial process, including appeals, until a finding of criminal or fraudulent acts. This preserves valuable protection for innocent players as well as questionable ones.

Insured vs. Insured Exclusions

Insurance policies that provide D&O coverage typically contain an insured vs. insured exclusion which excludes claims arising out of disputes between directors and officers within the same company from being covered by insurance. Defense costs may be provided for under certain conditions, even when this exclusion applies, affording some protection to those affected parties involved in such claims.

Determining D&O Insurance Costs

When shopping for a D&O insurance policy, it’s important to take into account several factors such as company revenues, industry, financial stability, and coverage limits in order to tailor the insurance cost of the plan according to your organization’s risk profile.

Typically, new buyers of D&O focus on purchasing a $1 million limit of protection, without consideration of what they may actually need, so we recommend looking at varying levels of coverage as well as comparative benchmarking reports to help guide you on the “what limits to purchase” decision. Higher limits of protection are not exponentially more expensive than the first $1 million policy.

Cost Factors

The cost of a directors and officers insurance policy is determined by various factors, such as the company’s financial stability, operational history, claim history desired coverage limits of the company, and more.

In this video, we discuss the cost factors of D&O Insurance and what makes premiums go up as well as what makes premiums go down.

Customizing Coverage

Customizing your D&O insurance plan involves selecting the right limits, deductibles, and policy add-ons to accommodate your company’s unique risk profile. Changing coverage levels and deductible amounts can ensure that you have satisfactory protection while still keeping up moderate premiums.

Utilizing the expertise of an experienced insurance broker, additional riders or endorsements may be added to enhance the security provided in areas such as employment practices liability and fiduciary liability.

Tailoring policies to your company’s specific needs and addressing your risk factors will protect the company and its leaders from potentially damaging and costly lawsuits.

Tips for Choosing the Right D&O Insurance Policy

Directors and officers liability insurance

When it comes to selecting the best D&O insurance policy for your company, you may be compelled to think that getting quotes from multiple insurers is in your best interest. It’s human nature to believe that the best deal is achieved only by “shopping around”.

Unfortunately, this is not true when it comes to D&O due to the diverse coverage forms and endorsements available to this type of policy in the market. Comparing multiple quotes from different insurers is nearly impossible for the untrained individual.

Instead, we recommend working with a qualified broker who can approach the marketplace on your behalf, obtain customized quotes for you, and then make a recommendation as to which is the best choice. This will remove guesswork, and give you the most suitable optimal protection at a competitive cost.

Taking time to understand terms such as Side A/B/C coverage alongside any exclusions detailed in an insurance contract will enable one to accurately assess their chosen plan’s scope of protection, allowing them peace of mind that proper measures are taken when safeguarding against potential risks or claims faced by organizations down the line.


By investing in a suitable D&O insurance policy, businesses of all sizes can safeguard their leaders from incurring personal financial loss and be better equipped to recruit top talent while fulfilling investor conditions.

It is critical that business owners properly assess the coverage options available for each individual case as well as be aware of limitations or exclusions associated with the selected plan.

Without this protection against potential legal losses, company directors may find themselves paying out-of-pocket, which could jeopardize an organization’s future success.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the main purpose of D&O insurance?

D&O insurance is intended to safeguard a company’s leadership from financial losses they might incur due to legal action brought against them. This type of coverage protects the personal assets of these leaders as well as that of the business itself.

With this policy in place, it assists with minimizing expenses related to potential court proceedings for all concerned parties involved. It is essential for companies to have D&O insurance since it can make an immense difference in terms of their liability when unfortunate scenarios take place involving its Directors or Officers.

What are the three main components of D&O insurance coverage?

D&O insurance coverage offers protection to directors and officers with regard to their personal assets through Side A of the policy.

Side B provides the company reimbursement for indemnification obligations as well as balance sheet security.

And, Side C, also known as Entity Protection provides cover for the company itself.

Do private companies need D&O insurance?

Private companies should consider getting D&O insurance policies to provide financial security for company leaders if a lawsuit or legal action takes place. This type of policy would help ensure the company meets any relevant laws or regulations too. It can also protect the business from potential costs due to an alleged violation by its board members and executive team stemming from wrongful acts in relation to their duties.

What are some common exclusions in D&O insurance policies?

D&O insurance policies typically do not cover intentional fraud, illegal acts, or claims between individuals who are insured by insurance carriers with the same policy.

What is a Tail in a D&O Policy?

A tail is formally known as an extended reporting period and is typically purchased when a D&O policy is terminated or canceled.

Because D&O is written on a “claims-made” policy form, claims are only covered when they are reported or “made” to an active policy. When a policy is terminated it’s no longer active and claims cannot be reported to it.

In order to preserve the opportunity to report claims arising after the termination date, for acts that took place prior to the termination date a tail, extended reporting period, or ERP must be purchased. There is a charge for this extension and it’s based on the duration of the extension.

How can I customize my D&O insurance policy to fit my organization’s needs?

Crafting an appropriate D&O liability insurance policy for your business can be achieved by selecting the most suitable coverage limits, deductibles, and add-on options that meet your risk exposure.

An experienced insurance broker should work with you to create a plan tailored specifically to fit these needs. This custom policy will guarantee maximum protection from any eventualities related to Directors & officers liabilities as well as ensure compliance with legal regulations pertaining to this type of insurance.

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