Question: Our plan committee is thinking about purchasing fiduciary liability insurance. Is a fidelity bond the same thing as fiduciary liability insurance?
Answer: The fidelity bond required under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) specifically insures a plan against losses due to fraud or dishonesty (e.g., theft) by persons who handle plan funds or property. Fiduciary liability insurance, on the other hand, is insurance plan fiduciaries purchase to protect themselves in the event they breach their fiduciary responsibilities with respect to the plan. Please note that courts can hold plan fiduciaries personally liable for losses incurred by a plan as a result of their fiduciary failures. Fiduciary liability insurance — while not required — could be an important financial safety net for plan fiduciaries. Although obtaining ERISA fiduciary insurance is considered prudent, it does not satisfy the fidelity bonding required by ERISA.