8 Facts about Federal Employee Professional Liability Insurance (FEPLI)
The federal workforce has a lot to navigate, to say the least. The experience of difficult coworkers is not limited to any sector or industry. The potential for politics to affect office life so directly is a more unique experience. it’s not as simple as it can look from the outside.
Disagreements and mistakes in the workplace happen. And at times, these complications can threaten your federal career. When they do? It's likely time to turn to your Federal Employee Professional Liability Insurance (FEPLI).
So what should everyone know about FEPLI?
1. It covers you when someone makes an allegation against you, in relation to your federal job
Let’s start with the basics. FEPLI covers your federal career. It works when someone makes an allegation of wrongdoing or misconduct against you. This allegation must be in relation to your federal job.
Some general examples?
Investigations arising out of EEOC complaints against you. Allegations of misuse of government property or conduct unbecoming. Challenges against gaining or renewing your security clearance. Civil lawsuits (yes, feds can be personally sued). And more.
FEPLI does not cover allegations you wish to make against someone else.
2. It began in 1965, invented for employees of the U.S. Federal government
In the tumultuous sixties, Frank Wright was an insurance professional in Washington, DC. He noticed that the federal government employees around him faced a lot of risks - often. He saw them exposed to situations that could endanger their careers.
If anything happened against them, the employee had to pay out of pocket for a private lawyer.
Seeing the need, Wright established Wright & Co. With it, he invented professional liability insurance for U.S. federal employees. The insurance, now known as FEPLI, was born with the unique needs of the federal sector in mind. The company, today known as Starr Wright USA, began with federal workers as the sole focus. They remain the sole focus today.
3. It is for ANY civilian federal employee
All U.S. federal sector employees are eligible to enroll in FEPLI. There is no waiting period or other limitation: you could enroll on your first day on the job if you chose. You can enroll no matter what agency you work for.
Anyone can accuse a fed of some wrongdoing or another, at any time. And unfortunately, allegations don’t have to be true to be harmful.
If you face an allegation at work, you must prove yourself innocent, or seek fair and reasonable repercussions. This can be difficult and confusing. That’s why FEPLI is available to any fed who wants it.
4. Managers, supervisors, LEOs, and others with similar jobs may need it more
Any fed can benefit from having FEPLI. However, it’s true that some are statistically more likely to file a claim than others. The more exposure you have on the job, the greater your chances of needing to file an FEPLI claim. Hiring, firing, and disciplining employees. Working in close contact with the public. Jobs with high-stakes or extra security or secrecy. All these and more mean an increased risk.
5. You can get reimbursed – it’s that important
Federal agencies are required by law to reimburse qualified federal employees for a part of their annual FEPLI cost.
The law names Law Enforcement Officers, Managers, and Supervisors as qualified. But across the government, exact qualification requirements vary. Many things come into consideration, including on your responsibilities, agency, and exposure. In some cases, you may qualify even if you are not a manager or LEO.
The dollar amount or percentage reimbursed also varies: the law calls for up to 50% or up to $150. However, some agencies or positions reimburse more.
FEPLI reimbursement is on the federal level. It is not offered or determined by the insurance companies. Your agency's HR department can provide specifics as they pertain to your role.
6. It is private insurance, and individuals must enroll themselves
FEPLI is a great benefit to federal employees. But, getting it works a little differently from other employee benefits. FEPLI is not part of the standard employee benefits package. It is not automatically provided, and you cannot enroll through your employer.
To have FEPLI coverage, each employee must select and enroll in a policy themselves.
The same also goes for payment and reimbursement. It is up to you to pay for your own FEPLI policy, and to request reimbursement from your agency.
7. You must have an active policy before an incident occurs to file a claim
Like health or auto insurance, FEPLI won’t cover a claim for a situation that started before you were covered.
Of course, you never plan to get into a fender-bender, or become ill. You also rarely expect to be in a scenario where your career is in jeopardy. Unfortunately, unexpected things happen.
Some feds assume that FEPLI is not worth having – until they are facing down an allegation at work. The annual price of carrying coverage - and knowing you have that protection available - is low. The price of an unforeseen allegation against you can be high.
8. It could help you even if you don’t have a claim
Most FEPLI policies include access to a legal counsel line for some set amount of time. You can use that resource to speak to a legal advisor when you have an issue that wouldn’t be a covered insurance claim. Or, when you don’t have a claim yet - but you’re concerned it could happen.
Starr Wright USA offers the best option for this. All our FEPLI policies include 4 full hours of access to the Pre-Claim Counsel line. This hotline connects you with a legal expert dedicated to federal employment matters. Use this whenever and however you need during your active policy period.
Article authored by and containing the opinions of Starr Wright USA. This article is offered solely for informational purposes. Starr Wright USA is a marketing name for Starr Wright Insurance Agency, Inc. and its affiliate(s). Starr Wright USA is an insurance agency specializing in insurance solutions for federal employees and federal contractors. For more information, visit WrightUSA.com. Starr Wright USA is a division of Starr Insurance Companies, which is a marketing name for the operating insurance and travel assistance companies and subsidiaries of Starr International Company, Inc. and for the investment business of C.V. Starr & Co., Inc.