Top 5 Things To Look At When Purchasing A Legal Malpractice Policy

When it comes time to purchase or renew a legal malpractice policy, most people focus on price, which is not a bad thing. If it’s not the top priority, it is certainly in the top five. There are, however, other items that should be included on that list. Today, I want to give you my top items on my list in no order of importance. 

1. Prior acts coverage. Why is that important? Most claims filed against lawyers stem from professional services they provided five or more years ago. You don’t want a policy that excludes that type of claim.

2. Definition of professional services. Many lawyers wear many hats when providing professional services, acting as an arbitrator, mediator, trustee, Guardian, and title agent, just to name a few. Make sure that these services are not excluded in the policy that you purchase. 

3. Speaking of exclusions, number three is exclusions. I’ve long said that if you’re going to read only one section of the policy, read the exclusion section. At least this gives you some idea of what is not going to be covered under the policy. I have seen policies that have less than 10 exclusions. I’ve seen policies that have more than 25 exclusions. I’m not saying that the policy with 25 exclusions is any worse than the one that has 10 exclusions, but you need to read them and make sure if any of them apply to you. 

4. Extended reporting periods or extended reporting coverages. It’s commonly referred to as tail coverage. In the event that you quit practicing law, or you retire from the private practice of law, this provision will allow you to purchase an endorsement that allows you to report future claims that are filed against you for services that you performed in the past that would have been covered under your last policy. 

5. We’re going to come full circle and back to price. Price is important. Nobody wants to overpay for a policy. But please remember your objective when you first started the process. Your objective should have been to find a policy that provides the coverage you need and protects both you and your client all at a reasonable cost. 

There you have it, my top five list for now.

Use These Tips When Filling Out Your Renewal Application

Every year, most insured lawyers are asked by their carrier to complete a renewal application. Now, I can hear the collective moans coming from the offices before we even send out the renewal application. I’ll be the first to admit that the applications can be long and contain confusing questions. But keep in mind, this is the only time the carrier can get a complete picture of your firm, you need to take advantage of this. 

You need to let the carrier know what your practice is, how your practice is doing, and what you are doing to reduce risk in your office. You do this by answering all of the questions on the application completely. Unanswered questions or incomplete details only cause more questions and increase the back and forth between client and carrier. Take the time to read each question. Don’t assume you know what the carrier is asking for. 

There is one question on the application that I think causes concern, or at least causes me concern. And that is the area of practice grid. That’s the chart on the application that you are asked to put a percentage in, in the areas of where your firm is playing. Now, some carriers will ask for that percentage to be listed as a percentage of your time spent. Other carriers will ask for that percentage to be listed as a percentage of the revenue of the firm. Answering that question one way or the other will create a substantially different picture of your firm and definitely have an effect on the premium that you pay. 

So please, again, make sure that you’re reading each question and answering those questions completely. You’ll be glad that you did.