image of insurance policy

Crisis communications insurance policy: Are you covered?

November 7, 2018

Critical Takeaways

  • Insurance is available to cover crisis communications support in a crisis.
  • Check to see if you have this in place and understand what is covered.
  • Establish a rapport with the providers before an event.


The simulation was going incredibly well.

The data breach had been identified and the technical teams were responding. The executives were working closely together and draft communications were being shared. During a pause, I asked the CEO, “What else is on your mind?”  After a moment, she turned and asked the general counsel, “Does our insurance cover communications support?” He thought for a second. “I think so, but I’m not sure. Let me get back to you after the exercise.

After the simulation, we had a debrief to identify lessons learned and areas that needed follow up. We discussed insurance for crisis communications support and the General Counsel confirmed that they had coverage. Now we could check off two action items: firstly, that they had insurance and secondly, that they had established a relationship with the provider.

If you haven’t already done so, ask your legal and risk management team if your insurance has any sort of crisis communications support or reimbursement. And if it does, do you know what that support looks like?

There are a number of insurance products that cover extraordinary events, such as a data breach or an active shooter, and some policies include crisis communications support. In a previous role, I was part of a consortium that provided insured services to the food industry. We provided communications support, another provider managed the recall logistics, and a third provider managed secure storage of the recalled products.

All of this was covered by the affected business’ insurance policy. They didn’t have to worry about whether or not they would get the support they needed and there was no need to discuss billing at such a critical time.

However, where we found this insured support to be most effective was when we had had the opportunity to work with a business beforehand.

I was reminded of this the other day when a community college reached out to us for advice.  They had an insurance policy and their head of communications wanted some advice on the potential providers. “The policy lets us hire Firm A, B or C, and if we make the case, we can hire Firm D outside of the policy. What do you think?

The fact of the matter is, a crisis is not the time to start reviewing A, B or C’s credentials. It’s certainly not the time to go through the bureaucracy to bring D onboard. In doing their vetting in advance, this college was doing the right thing and I made a recommendation based on my knowledge of A, B and C.

But I also advised the college that in addition to validating their suppliers, they needed to introduce themselves to the firm they chose.

And I recommend you do the same.

Once you have confirmed that insurance is in place, get the know the firm(s) that might be supporting you.  Identify a point of contact and then begin the process of developing a relationship and engage with them as much as appropriate.  You might even want to schedule a simulation with them as a way to cement this relationship.

Whatever you do, don’t wait until an actual crisis strikes.

Although it can be done, it’s not in your organization’s best interests as the firm supporting you won’t be as well-prepared to support you at that critical time. Worst of all, you might find that the insurance coverage isn’t there at all.

Filed under: Blog


Bill is a reputation management, crisis communications and professional development expert, keynote speaker, Wall Street Journal Risk & Compliance panelist, and best-selling author of Critical Moments: The New Mindset of Reputation Management. He has more than 25 years of global experience managing high-stakes crises, issues management, and media relations challenges for both Fortune 500 companies and winning global political campaigns.