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U.S. insurers and brokers are starting to create professional liability coverage for police officers. This is triggered by signs of policymakers across cities and states wanting to use a financial stick to curb police misconduct.
There can be a potential market opening up after a New York state lawmaker this month introduced legislation, which would require individual officers to carry liability coverage for lawsuits alleging excessive force, abuse or other misconduct.
“I think we’re in a new world,” said New York-based Mark Turkalo at the insurance brokerage unit of Marsh & McLennan Companies Inc., about the trend. Turkalo said the firm is exploring whether it could develop the coverage.
The bill authored by Democratic Senator Alessandra Biaggi follows a number of police reforms in New York and other U.S. states and cities, which were prompted by a wave of protests against police brutality and racial injustice since May.
Biaggi’s bill would require local governments to pay for the individual policies, but officers would pay any premium increases arising from their misconduct.
As premiums rise, “it would force an officer to either change their behavior or leave the field of law enforcement,” Biaggi told Reuters.
Currently, most police officers rely on either public funds or blanket insurance through municipalities to cover legal costs and payouts to victims. Critics say that provides no incentive for officers to check their behavior, often leaving taxpayers on the hook. New York City paid $220 million last year for police department settlements of civil lawsuits, far more than any other of the city’s agencies, public data show.
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