Massachusetts Courthouse Insurance Policy Information
Massachusetts Courthouse Insurance. In the United States, a complex and sophisticated system of courts processes both civil and criminal cases at various levels.
Not only are courts divided into municipal, county, state, and federal courts, different types of courts handle specific types of legal cases. Traffic, small claims, juvenile, appeals, and family courts are merely some examples.
Courthouses provide facilities for the judicial branch of government. They provide office space for officers of the court, facilities for public meetings, for trials and for related legal operations. Judges may preside over civil marriage ceremonies in the courthouse.
Due to the potential for violence in contested legal proceedings, many courthouses now have supplemental security systems such as X-ray machines to detect the presence of weapons.
It is easy to see courthouses as abstract symbols of authority or justice, almost above reproach, but in reality, courthouses are vulnerable to some of the same perils that commercial ventures of all types would face.
Likewise, courthouses depend on public funding within a set budget, and additional costs that fall outside of this can prove to be challenging to manage.
For these reasons, courthouses, like businesses, too require insurance. What kinds of Massachusetts courthouse insurance might a judicial facility need to carry in order to protect itself from the financial consequences of circumstances beyond the court's control? To discover more, keep reading.
Massachusetts courthouse insurance protects your judicial facility from lawsuits with rates as low as $127/mo. Get a fast quote and your certificate of insurance now.
Why Do MA Courthouses Need Insurance?
Governmental institutions and other public organizations need insurance because these entities can be confronted with some of the same threats as homeowners, manufacturers, or stores. Courthouses further face some unique risks.
Courthouses are not immune to acts of nature (also sometimes called acts of God) - earthquakes, wildfires, serious floods, hurricanes, and tornadoes can wreak havoc, causing massive damage to not only the courthouse itself but also the physical assets within.
In addition, even courts can be struck by criminal acts such as burglary, theft, or vandalism.
Like commercial ventures, courthouses can face liability issues in instances where, for example, an employee or a member of the public slips and injures themselves on a slippery floor, or renovation activities cause construction materials to fall on someone
Of special sensitivity are the documents courts store, and this is why, despite cyber security efforts, courthouses also have to consider the possibility of data breaches and thefts that could result in confidential data being made public.
Public and governmental entities can and should protect their financial interests from these and other perils by acquiring comprehensive Massachusetts courthouse insurance coverage.
What Type Of Insurance Do Massachusetts Courthouses Need?
Owing to the specialized nature of the activities a courthouse engages in, courthouses would want to seek to acquire insurance coverage from an insurer specializing in insuring governmental or public organizations.
The exact nature of the required coverage will vary from one jurisdiction to the next, and it also depends on factors like the materials the building itself was constructed from.
An insurance broker can be of immense help in helping a courthouse obtain the right insurance. Having said that, judicial facilities will generally need, among others, these types of Massachusetts courthouse insurance coverage:
- Commercial Property - Should theft, vandalism, accidents, acts of nature, or other perils cause substantial damage to the courthouse itself, the resulting costs can be massive. Property insurance helps to cover repair or replacement costs in these cases, pertaining not only to the physical building but also to other assets such as furniture, computers, and security systems.
- General Liability - This type of Massachusetts courthouse insurance exists to make the costs of personal injury or property damage claims more manageable, and courthouses require it too. Scenarios in which someone slips on a wet floor, or a court employee damages someone's vehicle by accident, are just some examples of situations that call for general liability insurance.
- Cyber Liability - This type of insurance protects a courthouse from the financial consequences of situations in which electronic assets are stolen, accessed, altered, or made public.
- Workers' Compensation - Workers comp is generally required for any entity with more than one employee. It covers the medical bills of employees who sustain work-related injuries or accidents. In addition, if such a worker cannot return to their job for a time, their lost wages are also replaced.
- Employee Dishonesty - Crucial for any governmental or public entity, this type of insurance is designed to cover the costs associated with dishonest or criminal acts on the part of an employee, whether in the form of theft or other activities.
Obtaining the insurance coverage that best serves the needs of a courthouse is a complex process, and forms of insurance that carry the same name may cover different eventualities, depending on the insurance company.
It is imperative to examine the details of any Massachusetts courthouse insurance policy in-depth to make sure that the courthouse is adequately protected from the fallout of all major perils.
MA Courthouse's Risks & Exposures
Premises liability exposure is high due to the public's access to the building and the potential for volatility in high-profile court cases. If tours are given, exposures increase significantly as guests may be led through areas generally "off limits" to more casual visitors.
Legislation and judicial decisions have eroded governmental immunity protection in most states. Public and life safety code compliance is very important.
To prevent trips, slips, and falls, all premises must be well maintained with flooring in good condition. Adequate lighting, marked exits, and egress are mandatory. Steps must have handrails, be well lit, marked, and in good maintenance and repair. An outside service contractor should inspect elevators and escalators annually.
Parking lots should be free of ice and snow. Courthouses may be a target for vandals, criminals, or terrorists. Security has become an increasing concern for officials such as the judges, lawyers for both defense and prosecution, jurors and guards, and for prisoners.
Security inside the facility, as well as outside areas, including owned parking areas, needs to be carefully implemented and monitored. Weapons checks should be conducted on all visitors. An evacuation plan must be in place. Personal injury losses may occur due to an alleged assault, discrimination, invasion of privacy, or unlawful detention.
Workers compensation exposures are varied, from office workers to volunteers, janitorial, building or yard maintenance workers, repair personnel, and drivers. Workers may incur back injuries, hernias, slips, falls, strains, or sprains.
Skin or lung irritations can result from working with cleaning chemicals and paint. Office workers may develop repetitive motion injuries. Workstations should be ergonomically designed.
Court bailiffs are subject to the same injuries as other police officers because they maintain the order in the court. They must be trained to deal with unruly visitors or prisoners.
Property exposure is generally low. Ignition sources include electrical wiring and heating, and air conditioning systems. Most courthouses are older and have been remodeled extensively to handle additional electrical loads from computers and sound systems.
All electrical wiring must be up to code. Circuit breakers and fuse boxes must not be able to be overridden. Smoke detectors are critical for early detection of a fire. Smoking should be prohibited.
Valuation may be a concern in older buildings that have unique architectural features that may be difficult to rebuild with like construction and quality after a loss.
Courthouses may be a target for criminal activity, political activism, or terrorism. Adequate security is required. There should be disaster recovery plans in place to continue operations in the event of a large loss.
Crime exposure is from public officials' dishonesty, employee dishonesty, and money and securities. Background checks, including criminal history, must be completed on all employees. Receipts must be provided for all payments of court fees, fines, and penalties, with daily reconciliation between receipts and money received.
Regular deposits must be made with adequate security provided. Money should not be left on premises overnight.
All employees must be required to take at least one week of vacation each year. There must be annual independent audits.
If the courthouse has an office to collect fees, fines, and penalties, there may be an exposure to hold up.
Inland marine exposures include audio/visual equipment, computers, fine arts, and valuable papers and records from municipal records such as trial and verdict records. Owned equipment used or taken off premises can be damaged in transit, lost, or stolen.
Fine arts such as statuary and paintings, artifacts, historical documents, or rare or historical books, may be one-of-a-kind and irreplaceable. If insured, valuation should be done by a qualified appraiser. Fine arts and valuable papers and records are often delicate and must be protected from fire, water damage, vandalism, theft, or other losses.
Duplicates of all files should be stored at an off-site facility for easy retrieval in the event of a loss. If the court takes possession of the goods of others, bailees customer coverage may be needed.
Business auto exposures can be high if vehicles are used to transport public officials, guests, jurors, prisoners, and visitors. All drivers must have appropriate licenses and acceptable MVRs. All vehicles must be maintained on a regular basis with records kept in a central location.
Massachusetts Courthouse Insurance - The Bottom Line
To learn more about the specific types of Massachusetts courthouse insurance policies judicial facilities need and how much coverage they should have, speak with a commercial insurance broker that is experienced in business insurance.
Massachusetts Economic Data, Regulations And Limits On Commercial Insurance
If you are thinking about starting a business in the Massachusetts, it's important that you have an understanding of the economic trends and commercial insurance requirements in the state before you set up shop.
Economic trends are important, as they indicate whether or not the area offers a strong economy that will be able to support your business. You also need to know what type of commercial insurance you'll need to carry so that you can plan accordingly and ensure that you are complaint with the law.
To help you determine if the Bay State is the right location for the business you are thinking about opening, below, you'll find an overview of MA's current economic trends, as well as the types of insurance policies you'll need to carry.
Economic Trends For Business Owners In Massachusetts
Unemployment rate is a good indicator of a state's economy. The lower the rate, the more job opportunities there are, which is direct reflection of the health of businesses.
As per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate in Massachusetts was 2.8% in December, 2019. That's 0.7% lower than the national average, which was 3.5% in December, 2019. This indicates that the state offers a strong workforce and that there are enough jobs to support the residents of the state.
While regions throughout the area are seeing business growth, there are certain areas in particular that are seeing more growth than others. This includes large metropolitan areas and the regions that surround them, including:
- New Bedford
Several industries are doing very well in the state of Massachusetts; however, there are particular sectors that are seeing more growth than others and are truly thriving in this part of the country. These industries include:
- Advanced manufacturing
- Commercial fishing
- Financial services
- Hospitality tourism
- Information technology
- Medicine and life sciences
If you are thinking about starting a business in any of these industries, chances are good that you will find the success you are looking for in the state of Massachusetts.
Commercial Insurance Requirements In Massachusetts
The Massachusetts Division of Insurance regulates insurance in MA. Massachusetts mandates very few forms of insurance coverage by law. They enforce worker's compensation.
Massachusetts requires you to have worker's compensation insurance if you hire even one employee on a regular basis. This includes part-time employees, family members, minors, and immigrant employees. It is not required for independent contractors, but employees in domestic service must be covered if they work at least 16 hours a week.
Massachusetts also requires all business-owned vehicles to be covered by commercial auto insurance. Other types of business insurance that business owners should carry depend on the specific industry.
Additional Resources For Local, State And Federal Government Insurance
Learn about commercial insurance for local, state and federal government agencies, services, operations and buildings.
- County Administration Offices
- Fire Departments
- Government Buildings
- Law Enforcement Entities
- Public Buildings
Cooperative efforts between insurance professionals and public officials have led to the satisfactory arrangement of coverages for public properties that may include large building schedules spread over a number of locations and geographic areas.
Liability insurance protection is a matter of much greater concern. As governmental and charitable institutional immunity continues to erode, the onslaught of lawsuits makes adequate liability protection essential.
Public utilities have unique insurance needs usually best handled by specialists in their field.
Because government entities are becoming more inventive in raising money, they are involved in activities that may not appear to be government-related so that they may require coverages that at first glance do not seem appropriate for them.
Minimum recommended small business insurance coverage: Building, Business Personal Property, Employee Dishonesty, Money and Securities, Accounts Receivable, Audio/Visual Equipment, Computers, Contractors' Equipment, Fine Arts, Valuable Papers and Records, General Liability, Cyberliability, Employee Benefits, Public Officials' Liability, Umbrella, Hired and Non-Oowned Auto & Workers Compensation.
Other commercial insurance policies to consider: Earthquake, Equipment Breakdown, Extra Expense, Flood, Computer Fraud, Forgery, Employment-related Practices, Business Auto Liability and Physical Damage and; Stop Gap Liability.
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