Insurance brokers and agents can be held accountable for performing negligent duties in limited circumstances. The client must prove the basic areas of negligence (damages, causation, duty, and breach) to prove professional negligence against the insurance agent or broker. Negligence of duty is challenging to prove as most insurance brokers and agents have limited duties towards their clients.
Four Common Scenarios for Broker Negligence
The following are four basic scenarios where clients may claim negligence against their insurance broker:
Scenario One: The client will claim that they sent their broker money to pay for the policy’s premium, but the broker failed to pay the premium.
Scenario Two: The broker failed to purchase the specific insurance that the client requested.
Scenario Three: The broker claims to have particular experience with specific types of insurances or insurance in a particular industry or business (e.g., car wash or jewelry store). The broker failed to obtain the insurance in the business the client requested.
Scenario Four: The client requested homeowner’s insurance for their house, and the broker obtained the coverage. However, the client realizes that they do not have sufficient coverage after an accident has occurred. For example, their house burns down, and the coverage is not enough to rebuild their home.
All four scenarios involve the client suffering a loss of coverage they thought they had.
Scenario one and two are straightforward cases of broker negligence. They are often settled quickly. The last scenario is usually not worth pursuing, as most jurisdictions will hold the policyholder accountable for choosing their coverage.
A majority of the broker negligence cases are similar to the third scenario. The success of these cases depends on whether the attorney can gather the evidence necessary to determine that the broker had an obligation to obtain the insurance requested.