Legal Actions Against NEA Members–Who Pays?
NEA supports state "hold harmless" legislation which requires that the employer pay for your defense or related damages in case you are sued. However, since this not always available—and because the liability potential can be so serious for individuals employed by schools and other educational units—NEA provides all eligible association members with professional liability insurance through the NEA Educators Employment Liability (EEL) Program.
Eligible association members include the following membership categories: Active, Life Active, Substitute, Student, and Retired.
What is the Educators Employment Liability (EEL) Program?
The EEL program is a professional liability insurance program which NEA provides as a benefit of membership. The program is totally dues-funded; members pay no separate fee. It is designed to protect association members—whether classroom teachers or support professionals—from personal financial liability for most incidents arising out of their educational employment activities or duties.
The EEL Program provides insurance coverage for a variety of situations which result in injury to someone other than members. For example:
- Student injuries
- Charges of educational malpractice
- Corporal punishment
The EEL Program is administered through your NEA state affiliate association. Liability and insurance laws vary in each state. If you want more information on the specific provisions of EEL coverage in your state, contact your local UniServ representative or state affiliate association.
EEL Program Benefits
The following benefits are available to all NEA member educators or school/university employees, including Education Support Professionals (ESPs).
Coverage A. Educators Liability Benefit
Payment of the legal defense costs of up to $3,000,000 per occurrence in defending civil proceedings (other than proceedings concerning Civil Rights) brought against you in the course of performing your educational employment activities.
Payment of up to $1,000,000* in damages assessed against you as a result of such civil proceedings.
Payment of up to $300,000* worth of defense, settlement or judgments and other supplementary payments for proceedings concerning Civil Rights.** (Coverage A is subject to a $3,000,000 per member per occurrence damages limit not to include any civil rights issues or claims, and a $9,000,000 defense cost limit per member per occurrence regardless of the number of members involved in the occurrence, not to include any civil rights issues or claims.)
Coverage B. Reimbursement of Attorney Fees for the Defense of Criminal Proceedings**
Reimbursement for attorney fees and other legal costs up to $35,000 if you are charged with violating a criminal statute in what otherwise would be within the course and scope of your educational employment activities, and you are exonerated of all charges by a court of law or all charges are withdrawn or dismissed.
If, however, the proceeding arises out of an incident involving the administration of corporal punishment, the policy will provide reimbursement regardless of the outcome.
Coverage C. Bail Bond
Reimbursement of up to $1,000 of bail bond premium, if you must post a bond as the result of an occurrence arising out of your educational employment activities. (The insurance company is not required to furnish the bond.)
Coverage D. Assault-Related Personal Property Benefit
Payment of up to $500 for damages to your personal property when caused by an assault upon you in the course of your educational employment. (Vehicle and school property are excluded.)
* May have state variations; check with your state affiliate.
** State insurance laws do not permit this coverage in New York.
Additional Advantages of The EEL Program
Your coverage is worldwide, includes coverage on and off school grounds, and is in force 24 hours a day, as long as you are performing your educational employment activities.
Also, you should know that NEA's policy is an "occurrence policy." This means that your coverage is linked to when the "occurrence" took place. For example, if you are sued for a 2001 incident, coverage would be available to you if you were a member at the time of the "occurrence," even if such a claim or proceeding arises against you in the current year or in the future.