Abstract Directors’ and officers’ (D&O) legal liability insurance is commonly provided to corporate executives and directors. Prior literature suggests managers are more willing to engage in opportunistic behaviors when their personal assets are more protected from litigation risk. Therefore, information about D&O policy details is potentially useful in assessing potential managerial opportunism. However, many countries, including the U.S., do not require firms to disclose this information. We provide evidence on whether mandatory D&O disclosures are likely to provide information about managerial opportunism that is incremental to that provided by other sources of information using a sample of Canadian firms, who are required to make D&O disclosures. We examine the association between excess D&O coverage limits and audit fees since auditors have extensive private information about the likelihood of managerial opportunism and strong incentives to incorporate this information into their audit fees. We find a positive association between excess D&O coverage limits and audit fees after controlling for numerous other audit fee determinants, including other proxies for managerial opportunism such as discretionary accruals and corporate governance variables. Additional analyses suggest auditors are more sensitive to potential managerial opportunism when managers are more likely to act on their opportunistic incentives. We also find a positive association between excess D&O coverage limits and the likelihood of future shareholder litigation. Our findings suggest that D&O insurance disclosures convey incremental information to shareholders and other capital market participants. As such, they suggest a beneficial role for mandatory D&O disclosures.
H. H. Chung, Stephen A. Hillegeist, Jinyoung P. Wynn
Journal of Accounting and Public Policy