Voice mail disclaimers. Most agencies today have standard voice mail disclaimers that state something to the effect of, “No coverage can be bound or obtained by leaving a voice mail.” I support this disclaimer.
However, two E&O exposures are created in many, and maybe most agencies, relative to this disclaimer. First, many agencies do not mandate that all office phones have this disclaimer. Some agencies have an automated phone system so that all phones have the same voice mail message so for these agencies, assuming they have the correct disclaimer on their master system, this is not usually an exposure. Many agencies do not have these kinds of phone systems though and each person has to make sure their voice mail is updated daily. People get in a hurry, they forget, they think it sounds too formal, and they fail to include it. This may lead customers to believe they can obtain coverage simply by leaving a voice mail.
The second exposure is the one created by cell phones without a disclaimer. From a customer’s perspective, does it really make a difference whether they left the voice mail on the agency’s system or the producer’s cell phone? Many producers buy their own phones and use them for personal purposes too so they do not want this disclaimer. However, from a customer facing a large loss, does it really matter whether they left their voice mail on a personal phone or an agency owned phone?
Moreover, the inconsistency between systems when sometimes the client gets a voice mail disclaimer and other times they do not get a voice mail disclaimer raises the question of whether the agency has one standard practice. It also raises the question of whether insureds that can call producers directly are treated better than other customers.
Is it not simpler to just use the same voice mail disclaimer on all devices regardless of the device type or who owns the device?