Are Emergency Remote Notarizations Covered by E&O Policies?

May 7, 2020

by Micheal Lewis, Managing Editor of Member Publications for the National Notary Association 

With many states issuing emergency executive orders, proclamations and guidance temporarily authorizing remote online notarization (RON) or remote notarization  of paper documents, members of Notary community have asked if these notarizations would be covered by their bonds and errors & omissions insurance policies. In general, the answer is yes.

The NNA reached out to Merchants Bonding Company for guidance. Here's what you need to know.

A remote notarial act performed in a state that issued an emergency measure is a valid notarial act and generally should be covered under an applicable bond or E&O policy as long as the notarization conforms to the emergency measure and was performed while the emergency measure was in effect, according to Gina Lockwood, Senior Claims Attorney with Merchants Bonding Company.

Many states that have enacted emergency measures have authorized traditional Notaries to perform RON under certain circumstances or subject to certain criteria. It is extremely important that Notaries read, understand and comply with any state-specific requirements to obtain authorization to perform remote notarial acts during this temporary period and ensure that they do not exceed the authority granted to them in performing RON.

Since these orders are temporary, Notaries should be conscious of the start and end date of the orders to make sure they they are not performing RON acts outside the authorized period. 

The requirements to perform RON under the emergency measures are extremely varied from state-to-state. For example, some of these requirements may include, but are not limited to, to the following: 

  • Taking a state-approved training class;
  • Providing notice to the state prior to engaging in an initial remote notarial act;
  • Using state approved vendor platforms to perform a remote notarial act;
  • Notarizing hard copy documents sent via mail following performance of a remote notarial act; or
  • Maintaining video records of remote notarial acts for a certain period of time. 

Notaries should continue to maintain good records during the period, including records of their compliance with any steps required under the emergency measures to perform RON, as verifying compliance with these requirements will be an important step in determining whether coverage exists under and bond or E&O policy for acts performed during the temporary period.

Information subject to change; 4/17/2020 edition.

For more information and resources from the National Notary Association, visit their website.