How management liability insurance gives your business more power

How management liability insurance gives your business more power

11 August 2021

On average, one in five Australian small businesses have been party to a dispute, with most of them experiencing financial loss, according to a government report. As well, small-to-medium-sized enterprises are at risk of unfair dismissal claims, with the Fair Work Commission listing at times with hefty costs.

Work-related injury and diseases cost Australian companies $61.8 billion annually, says Safe Work Australia. Some $6.3 billion of that relates to reduced productivity from their workers suffering from mental health issues.

So, where does the buck stop? In short, it’s with your company, and these are risks that could sink it. It’s prudent to ensure your managers, directors, and officers are aware and up to date with the risks involved in their day-to-day work and its impacts.

The risks that management face

Those risks though are a tiny portion of the 700-plus federal, state, and territory laws that apply to owners, directors, and senior managers of businesses of any size. Liabilities range from financials, regulatory compliance, employment practices, workplace conditions, and operations.

Here are some risks to consider, such as if one of your managers or directors acted illegally or unethically, causing losses to individuals or your employees, or other businesses.

Allegations of management failings may arise out of perceived gaps in response. These allegations may include poor communication to staff, failure to manage health and safety in your workplace, or breaching confidentiality and privacy. Then, there are claims that your key staff believe have no merit – they still must be defended.

In one case, an employee of a food wholesaler had embezzled $400,000 through voiding invoices and moving the funds to their bank account. The company successfully claimed $430,000 to reimburse its lost funds under the crime provision of its management liability cover.

If that happened to your company and it didn’t have the right cover, your business would take a hit, plus owners, directors, and managers are personally responsible. That means personal assets such as home, savings, vehicle, or other valuables could be claimed to pay legal and other costs.

What does it cover?

A management liability policy protects your company and its directors, managers, and officers against claims and costs resulting from mistakes management makes. It focuses on breaches of their responsibilities under the Corporations Act. The kind of companies that need management liability insurance are typically businesses with employees or that operate in a regulatory environment.

A management liability policy typically covers a range of business risks, including:

  • Stakeholders’ allegations of your company’s mismanagement
  • Workplace health and safety incidents and accidents
  • Employment practices such as unfair dismissal, harassment, or discrimination
  • Tax audits and investigations
  • Fraud and employee theft
  • Breach of contract defence costs
  • Environmental defence costs
  • Whistle-blower cover
  • Directors’ and officers’ management personal liabilities concerning the business, including run-off for retired directors
  • Statutory liability.

There are a range of policies, such as for private small-to-medium-sized companies, private micro SMEs, sole traders, or partnerships. Respectively, coverage limits range from about $5 million down to about $100,000. You can even select extra cover for late-notified claims when you sign with a different insurer through us. As well, you can mix and match coverage types to ensure your package suits your needs, adding cyber insurance, for example.

What isn’t covered

Management liability insurance is often confused with directors’ and officers’ insurance for large private or publicly listed companies. This is what management liability usually does not cover:

  • Incidents or claims the company knew about before signing up for the policy
  • Damage from or claims arising from intentional acts (by managers)
  • Accidental personal injury or property damage (that’s what public liability covers)
  • Professional liability claims for negligence in your professional duty of care (that’s covered under professional indemnity)
  • Claims made as a result of a data breach or cyber event (cyber insurance would cover that)
  • Your business becoming insolvent, in particular cases.

It's important to talk to us about what you need to protect your management against a range of risks. Our team are here to help explain your exposures and what insurance protection you need.

This content is created and provided by Finnigan Investments (Australia) PTY Ltd trading as OneAffiniti on behalf of Austral Risk Services, and is for commercial purposes.

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