Tribal insurance programs provide unique insurance solutions for sovereign nations. The goal is to address protecting the distinctive cultural, financial, and legal requirements of tribal governments.
The size and makeup of tribal nations vary from members residing in small, remote rural villages to large cities and everything in between. And regardless of location and size, they all need to safeguard the tribe's assets from financial losses. Tribal insurance programs generally provide a comprehensive suite of traditional and specific coverages designed to insure the risks of federally recognized Indian nations within United States borders, including their business and gaming operations.
Specialty brokers and program administrators work with carriers to develop coverages for tribal governments and businesses based on each tribe's needs. The assortment of products and services that comprise Tribal Insurance Programs varies. Programs can run from a package of insurance coverage as simple as a group of single-line policies to a collection of multi-policy packages that provide comprehensive layers of protection.
How Does a Tribal Insurance Program Differ from Traditional Commercial Insurance?
Commercial insurance is a must when considering the coverage tribal governments need. Tribal insurance, however, differs significantly from commercial insurance and requires different considerations.
The primary difference between tribal and traditional insurance is that it meets the specific needs of tribal organizations. For example, tribal nations include provisions that protect their sovereignty, meaning they have the right to determine their laws and regulations regarding their internal affairs and governance.
Commercial insurance covers most traditional business risks tribal businesses face, but commercial policies do not cover tribal operations. Instead, they only cover specific areas such as construction, transportation, or gaming.
Who Provides Tribal Insurance Programs?
Insurance companies working with MGAs and program administrators create these types of programs for tribal nations to match the highly specialized and complex needs of sovereign nations. In addition, these policies require careful consideration of risk factors, unique legal requirements, and other variables that may not apply to non-tribal entities.
Some tribal nations operate under federal or state laws that mandate certain levels of liability and worker's compensation coverage. Other tribes choose to self-insure their enterprises through private carriers. Regardless of whether a tribal government or business decides to self-insure, it is critical to know how Tribal Insurance Programs work.
What Does Tribal Insurance Cover?
As an example of a Tribal Insurance Program, the following Tribal Coverages are available from Arrowhead General Insurance Agency's program for sovereign nations. First, it protects both specific and varied tribal risks.
Comprehensive Property Coverage
Includes blanket limits and the critical coverage extensions that matter most for your client's exposures.
- $1 million per occurrence
- $2 million aggregate limit
- $5 million retained limit
- $10 million self-insured retention (SIR)
- $100,000 deductible
- $500,000 sublimit
- $25,000 sublimit
In addition to comprehensive property coverage, many tribal nations require that their insurance program includes:
- Building coverage
- Fire coverage
- Flood coverage
- Hail/windstorm coverage
- Earthquake coverage
- Mold coverage
- Risk Management
General, Liquor, and Professional Liability
This coverage includes police, health care professionals, Tribal Officials, E&O, Employment Practices Liability, Cyber Liability, and Fiduciary Liability protections.
- Professional liability coverage protects professionals from being held liable in civil court for errors they make during their work. This type of coverage can help defend Tribal businesses and employees from claims related to malpractice, negligence, and professional services rendered.
- Employment practices liability protects employers from civil suits filed by former employees alleging discrimination or harassment.
- Cyber liability covers losses associated with cyber-attacks on computer systems, networks, or data.
- Fiduciary liability protects financial advisors from lawsuits claiming that they failed to act in the best interests of their clients.
- Liquor liability coverage protects liquor license holders from claims made by third parties injured after consuming alcohol purchased from them.
Public Entity Liability
Public Entity provides coverage for public entities like municipalities, school boards, and counties.
Provides coverage for tribal governments and tribal officials for acts committed within the scope of employment.
Errors and omissions, also known as professional liability insurance, cover legal fees incurred in defending a claim brought against a tribal nation for damages caused by an employee's negligence, misconduct, or breach of contract. It also covers defense costs when people sue tribes for defamation, libel, slander, invasion of privacy, false light, intentional infliction of emotional distress, or other tortious conduct.
Tribal Workers' Benefits
Includes competitively priced Guaranteed Cost and Loss-Sensitive options that give tribes with excellent risk-management the ability to access significant savings at program inception.
Automobile Physical Damage and Liability
This policy addresses unique tribal nation automobile exposures.
This liability coverage extends the limits for all primary policies, including Sexual Misconduct, Errors & Omissions, and Employment Practices Liability.
All Lines Aggregate / Self-Insured Retention
Self-insureds are responsible for paying claims when they occur. The SIR is a way to pay claims without requiring immediate out-of-pocket reimbursement. In addition, the program allows insureds to spread unexpected claim costs over several years.
SIRs are calculated based on the total premium paid for the year. For example, if you have a $1 million annual premium, you will set your SIR at 1% of your yearly premium. If your annual premium were $100,000, your SIR would be $10,000. Once established, the SIR will not increase. You may request a change in the SIR amount up until the end of the policy period.
Active Shooter / Deadly Weapons Protection
Protects against lawsuits and potential out-of-pocket damages should an active shooter situation occur where a person comes onto Tribal Nation property or workplace with a gun and begins shooting people indiscriminately. In addition to providing coverage for bodily injury and property damage caused by an active shooter, this coverage also includes defense costs incurred by an insured business and its legal fees.
Unmanned Aircraft Liability and Property Damage
As UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) quickly expand into commercial uses, they create new liability and property damage risks for commercial operators.
The owner and operator might be liable if a drone crashes into someone else's property. This coverage protects businesses from such events. For example, it covers both physical damage to other people's property and loss of use of their property due to drone crashes.
Should a UAV operation result in injuries or deaths, this coverage protects against lawsuits for these types of claims. It will help pay for settlements, judgments, and defense costs from injuries sustained while operating unmanned aircraft. It also covers damage to any property to buildings, vehicles, and other equipment.
Traumatic Event Expense Coverage
Traumatic event expense coverage insurance helps cover medical expenses incurred due to a traumatic injury. It covers both pre-existing injuries and those sustained during the covered event. In addition, the policy pays out to claimants who suffer from any illness or injury caused by the covered event.
Tribal Insurance Program Costs
Many factors affect the cost of a commercial tribal insurance program. The factors include the usual considerations such as claims history, creditworthiness, business experience, etc. Additionally, the factors impact the program's premium:
- Tribal Status - Tribes with federal recognition are eligible for more favorable rates than tribes without federal status.
- Tribal Reservation Size – Smaller reservations tend to have lower rates than larger ones.
- Location - Insurers often charge higher rates in rural areas than urban areas.
- Size - Smaller entities typically pay lower rates than larger ones.
- Exclusions - Certain exclusions apply to specific policies. These include:
- Deductible - Deductibles vary depending on the size of the company.
- Coverage Limits - Covers only particular losses.
- Other Policies - Other policies may overlap with the one being purchased.
Best Tribal Insurance Programs
At Program Business, we understand the challenges to independent insurance agents in finding and gaining access to the markets for hard-to-place, unusual risks in the Excess & Surplus Lines and program business space. So, for example, when you need help with pricing and placing the unique coverages required to protect sovereign nations with the best tribal insurance programs, the ProgramBusiness.com Market Directory is here for you. An example of how it works is when doing a quick search of the Program Business Market Directory for "Tribal Insurance." The result returns the Arrowhead Tribal Insurance Program.
Arrowhead's Tribal Program was created in 1987 as the Program for Sovereign Indian Nations, with the assistance of Native American attorneys and tribal administrators. Its goal is to help the Native American community with their specialized insurance needs by offering insurance coverage that recognizes tribal sovereignty established by the Constitution.
- works with a select group of agents and brokers nationwide who specialize in placing tribal coverage through our network of top-rated insurance companies with "A" or higher ratings. Its services include risk management to help mitigate a tribe's risks and an in-house claims team that understands tribal law, tribal court systems, FTCA protection, and tribal sovereignty claim issues.