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U.S. Chamber Offers Employment Liability Insurance for Small Business

Sunday, December 12, 1999 - 7:00pm

WASHINGTON, DC—With American businesses increasingly exposed to workplace-related lawsuits alleging discrimination, sexual harassment and wrongful termination, the United States Chamber of Commerce has joined with a leading insurance company, insurance broker, and a labor law expert to develop a cost-effective program of employment practices liability insurance (EPLI) and risk management for small businesses.

"Employment issues now make up 30 percent of all civil litigation in this country," said Jane Sanders, Director of the Small Business Council of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. "This risk is particularly troublesome for small businesses, which can be devastated by a large lawsuit and may lack the expertise and resources needed to deal effectively with increasingly complex employment regulations on a day-to-day basis."

The new program, known as Chamber Preferred, is designed for businesses with up to 250 employees and provides extensive protection against a wide range of employment-related risks on a worldwide basis. Chamber Preferred includes two hours of legal services provided by Littler Mendelson, the nation's largest employment and labor law firm; employment practices guidelines; risk prevention techniques; and related services.

The program is underwritten through Travelers Casualty and Surety Company of America and is available through Seabury & Smith, a unit of Marsh Inc.

Chamber Preferred includes employment practices liability insurance protection at reduced premiums and low deductibles sought by smaller businesses.

The insurance protects against the cost of legal defense, judgements (including punitive damages) and settlements arising from most employment litigation. Allegations such as wrongful termination, constructive discharge, sexual harassment, failure to promote, failure to hire, emotional distress, and third-party (non-employee) claims are defended on a worldwide basis.

"Chamber Preferred gives these companies the legal advice and risk management approaches that until now were available only to larger firms," Sanders said. "It also offers insurance protection to address the wide range of employment-related problems that might arise."

Average damages in employment liability verdicts now exceed $450,000, according to the 1998 Jury Verdict Research Series on Current Award Trends. Court defendants are four times more likely to face a $1 million verdict for employment liability than for automobile liability. However, while small businesses generally have insurance for automobile liability and workers compensation, most lack coverage for other employment exposures.

Additional information is available through the U.S. Chamber of Commerce web site at http://www.uschamber.com/ or by calling Seabury & Smith at 1-888-833-6699. For price quotes, call Seabury & Smith.

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