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June 15 2022

General liability for businesses hiring off-duty and why it makes sense for agencies

There is always the possibility that something will go wrong and cause damage to persons or property in the workplace, and off-duty details are no exception. With an officer working off-duty, however, where the liability rests is not always clear.

General liability insurance 

  • Protects a business owner and their assets in case of an incident 
  • Covers medical costs of persons injured in an incident on-premise

However, when a business hires an outside party for a service at their location (like an off-duty security detail) and an incident occurs in the line of that service, typically liability rests with the service provider. 

With off-duty jobs, this is where the waters can get a little muddied.

Many officers working off-duty are doing so in a 1099 capacity, as private contractors. However, they are also typically in uniform representing their department. If an officer has an incident during a detail that causes property damage, who takes on that financial responsibility? The cop? The agency?

It depends on the agency’s policy and whether or not it extends to off-duty jobs. It can also depend on other variables.

For example, while off-duty managed service providers usually include some sort of general liability, it’s important for agencies to read the fine print; many policies exclude coverage once an officer transitions from acting as security (identifying a person acting suspiciously) to acting as a police officer (making an arrest) to further enforce the law. This would then transfer the liability to the agency, an event that could be potentially costly to the agency, the city, and the community you serve.

Make sure your agency and the businesses you work with are adequately covered by checking agency policy to see if (and to what extent) it covers off-duty or asking your off-duty technology or managed services provider if they include insurance and to what extent. Ideally, finding an off-duty technology provider that provides complete general liability coverage, even when the officer is using their license to enforce the law, can act as the first line of defense to protect the business and the agency. 

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