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Agent Concerns Regarding Website ADA Compliance

Issue is a source of still-developing law around the country.
September 16, 2020

Recently, PIA National has become aware of pending lawsuits against independent insurance agencies in several states. The suits allege that the agencies’ websites deny equal access to people with disabilities in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) because the sites do not offer accommodations for use by disabled people. This issue is a source of still-developing law around the country.

In April of 2019, in conjunction with PIA National’s annual fly-in, members of our Agency Operations Advisory Council heard a presentation from representatives of the Small Business Administration (SBA) addressing, among others, the issue of the applicability of the ADA to websites.

The ADA is mandatory, with few exceptions, but its applicability to websites is not uniformly applied across all jurisdictions. There is a split among circuit courts as to whether websites are considered public accommodations and therefore need to comply with the ADA. There are several steps agents can take to address this issue.

1.    Know what your local law requires. Because this issue is treated differently in different parts of the country, seek advice from local counsel about whether it makes sense to address the issue with your prospective client or with your web developer. You don’t want to change your website in a way that improperly destroys evidence or appears to acknowledge wrongdoing.

2.    Don’t assume your website violates the ADA. Even following the available guidelines (typically those found here), some websites will fail purportedly reputable audits. If you think your website is compliant, consult with an expert before you respond.

3.    When you do decide to update your website, factor in ADA compliance. It’s much more efficient to create a compliant website than to update an existing website to make it compliant.

This information in this article is made available by PIA National and/or its affiliates and is for informational purposes only. It should not be construed as providing specific legal advice, and you acknowledge that no attorney/client relationship exists between you or any third party and PIA National and/or its affiliates. This article should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed lawyer in your jurisdiction.

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