Notaries are essential. You may know one or may be one yourself, and chances are, you will need one in the course of your life. There has been some form of a Notary Public in Ancient Egypt, proving that this job has been universally agreed upon as a noble public service undertaking for thousands of years.
Nowadays many people choose to become a notary, which is, according to the National Notary Association, someone who is an “official of integrity appointed by state government —typically by the Secretary of State — to serve the public as an impartial witness in performing a variety of official fraud-deterrent acts related to the signing of important documents”. The most important role of a notary is to ensure that the signers of a document are who they say they are. As you can imagine, with any important job, there are risks involved. Those who choose to take on the title of Notary Public, should take precautions to protect themselves, and their employers should do so as well.
Even though statistically, less than 2% of full-time notaries end up in court, the risk of a lawsuit is significant enough to make one want to ensure they have coverage. An independent, full, or part-time notary should carry personal Error and Omissions (E&O) Coverage and possibly Signing Agent Liability E&O Coverage, as well. Depending on the state, a notary could be required to have a notary surety bond. It is important that anyone considering the job know the risks involved and take the proper steps to protect themselves.
Employers can limit the risk of having a notary work for them by making sure they are fully educated in notarizing as well as encouraging them to keep up with notary law. They can also require notaries to keep a journal of all their notarizations. They can check with their insurance carrier to make sure that liability arising out of their employee's work is a covered loss and ask if their state offers group E&O policies for employers of notaries and the notaries themselves.
The employers of notaries can be liable for the actions of the notary while notarizing. Employing a notary may be an important decision for your business, however, it is also important for your business to carry E&O Insurance. Even if the notary never makes a mistake, (which is unlikely) they can still be named in a lawsuit or subpoenaed for information or documents. The cost of legal representation, settling, or being held liable can be a significant expense to the notary and/or employer.
If you need more information on any of the topics covered in this blog, or need help with any risk related issues please contact Albert Sica, Managing Principal, at 732.395.4251 or firstname.lastname@example.org.