Since retiring from the Big “I” at the end of 2016, I’ve continued as a volunteer faculty member on their Virtual University (VU) and regularly respond to questions submitted to its “Ask an Expert” service. Over 90% of these questions are coverage related. VU subscribers complete a submission form that includes a link to this page:

Ask an Expert Submission Guidelines and Disclaimer

The instruction clearly state that a policy form is required in order to provide an answer that is meaningful for that particular coverage scenario. If it’s an ISO form, the full ISO form number is adequate since we have access to these forms. However, a small minority of coverage questions are general in nature and, if a specific form is not required, then the subscriber can check a box with this label:

“Policy form(s) are not required for this inquiry.”

The problem is that FAR too many subscribers simply do not understand that most coverage or claim questions require a policy form. For example, just this morning I received the two “Ask an Expert” questions below:

“Are volunteers considered a ‘covered party’ or ‘insured’ under E&O Insurance? Question – insuring a Non-Profit that provides life skill classes to women; classes are generally taught by volunteers. If the non-profit is sued for an E&O arising out of the act or failure to act of that volunteer does the E&O policy respond – either for liability and/or defense?”

The “Policy form(s) are not required for this inquiry” box was checked. There is no industry standard E&O policy, so any answer to this question that generalizes whether volunteers are insureds under “an” E&O policy is pointless and a waste of time of the volunteer faculty. So what was my answer to the question? Simple: RTFP!

The second submission asks:

“Is liability provided on a commercial auto policy for a personally owned trailer when being pulled by a corporate owned vehicle? For instance, the camping trailer is owned and registered to the corporate officer, which is driving a corporate vehicle for his use.”

As in the question above, the “Policy form(s) are not required for this inquiry” box was checked. Although ISO has an industry standard Business Auto Policy, many carriers use their own proprietary forms and underwriting preferences may vary as to how to best insure the described exposure. So, from an educational standpoint with regard to “ISO standard” forms, I referred the subscriber to this existing article in the VU Research Library:

Pulling a Personally Owned Trailer With a Company Truck

There is another VU article that addresses the issue of pulling a business owned trailer with a personal auto. In fact, if a subscriber uses the very handy Search field on the VU web site, they’ll get links to several VU articles about trailers, even information about possible CGL coverage for use of trailers.

I don’t know if the above article answers the subscriber’s question. It might IF the policy in question is the ISO CA 00 01 form, assuming the edition dates are the same if that’s material to the question. But, again, the real answer to this question is RTFP!

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Bill Wilson

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One of the premier insurance educators in America on form, coverage, and technical issues; Founder and director of the Big “I” Virtual University; Retired Assoc. VP of Education and Research from Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America. Reprint Request Information