Everyone who has been to law school learns about neglect and the standard of the reasonable person. This standard is "what a reasonable person would have done under the same or similar circumstances." However, an insurance agent will be held with a similarly placed insurance agent under the same circumstances.
As the Court noted in Saylab v Don Juan Restaurant 1 ] an insurance agent is a professional who possesses special knowledge and skills and thus will be held to a higher standard. In Saylab the court posed the question of what a "reasonable insurance agency in the District of Columbia would have done in the circumstances here, a wise agent or broker would have informed [plaintiffs] of the availability of [specific] coverage." 2
In addition, "where an agent also stays as a consultant and adviser, he has an obligation to advise the insured about his insurance needs, especially where such needs have been conveyed to the agent's attention." 3
I am convinced that the vast majority of insurance agents do a good job of providing coverage for their customers, but given the increased duty of care, I would recommend that insurance agents spend time with their customers. Get to know each other's insurance needs and give them information about available coverages that clients may not know exist.
In Saylab the question arose of not giving a restaurant advice on liquor nsvar. This is a coverage that an insurance agent should know exists and should know that a customer in the restaurant industry needs. So it is becoming increasingly important to socialize with the customer, learn more about them and their needs and tailor insurance coverage to meet those needs. After all, insurance agents seek protection for their most valued assets and it is the job of the insurance agent to ensure that they are covered.
3 Stevenson v. Severs 158 F.3d 1332 (D.C. Cir. 1998). Quote 16A J.A. Appleman & J. Appleman, Insurance Law and Practice 35-66 (1981).