In my industry, we spend a lot of time on do's and don'ts.

I spend much of the day reviewing insurance policies and trying to maximize coverage for my clients. I'm especially involved when a claim occurs. My involvement at that point is not as a legal representative, but as my client's insurance advocate. I also try to explain how they should respond at the time of an occurrence, including what not to say.

One thing that I really stress to my clients: There is a time to speak and a time to shut up. To explain, I'll quote directly from a commercial vessel Protection and Indemnity (P&I) insurance policy (In ocean marine policies, the "Assured" is the client and the "Assurer" is the insurance company.):

"The Assured shall not make any admission of liability, either before or after any occurrence which may result in a claim for which the Assurer may be liable. The Assured shall not interfere in any negotiations of the Assurer, for settlement of any legal proceedings in respect of any occurrences for which the Assurer is liable under this policy, provide, however, that in respect of any occurrences likely to give rise to a claim under this policy, the Assured are obligated to and shall take steps to protect their (and/or the Assurer's) interests as would reasonably be taken in absence of this or similar insurance. If the Assured shall fail or refuse to settle any claim as authorized by the Assurer, the liability of the Assurer to the Assured shall be limited to the amount for which settlement could have been made."

Loosely translated, the policy instructs you to not say you're sorry, not say your insurance will take care of it, not to admit to anything, not tell your insurer you're too busy to help them, and not to tell the other person that damage looks either minor or extensive.

Finally, don't do anything that may bite you later. This means you must make sure your crew is also aware of how to act. In court or elsewhere, something said by your crew could be construed as something said by you and this may change your insurance coverage.

Knowing what not to say can save you a lot of money and prevent a lot of grief.

A collection of stories from guest authors.