There Is No One-Size-Fits-All Legal Malpractice Policy

Many carriers trying to be innovative or distinguish themselves in the Legal Malpractice marketplace try to add certain coverages to the policy hoping to get your business.  While any additional coverage is a good thing, sometimes the advertising and marketing of the additional coverages can cause confusion about the type and extent of the additional coverages offered.  

Some of the additional or ancillary coverages that carriers in the Legal Malpractice marketplace are marketing/providing are: Cyber Coverage, D&O Coverage, Fidelity Coverage and even some BOP coverage or business owners.  Again, the additional coverages are not bad to have but they should not be thought of as complete coverage for that type of exposure.  All of these ancillary coverages are just that – ancillary. Don’t be fooled in thinking that the ancillary coverage is all you need for those exposures.  The ancillary coverage will provide minimal coverage in terms of depth and limits.  

For a more comprehensive coverage with broad depth and adequate limits, you should consider a standalone or separate policy for each of the exposures that exist in your firm.  Although buying separate policies for cyber, business owners, and crime coverage will add to your outlay of cash it should provide adequate protection for you and the firm in the event of a claim or loss.  Notice I did not mention D&O coverage, if you sit on a non profit or for profit board you definitely need to check with that entity and confirm that they do have an inforce policy that protects you in your position as board member.  

Don’t depend on your Legal Malpractice policy to act as a cover all policy.  It’s not!  It’s great to have supplemental and ancillary coverages in the legal malpractice policy but it is a mistake to believe these types of coverage will provide the coverage needed in a claim situation.  Investigate standalone policies. 

Time Doesn’t Stand Still

Time doesn’t stand still and we are not getting any younger.  At least I’m not.  Eventually we all will at some point retire.  As lawyers in the private practice of law, you need to prepare for retirement from an insurance perspective.  

When you retire, you want to make sure that you take the proper steps to maintain the coverage you paid for in all the years prior.  You do this by securing what is known as tail coverage referred to as an Extended Reporting Provision.  Tail coverage will allow you to report future claims filed against you stemming from professional services you provided to clients prior to your retirement.  Hence the term tail coverage.  

Tail coverage is an essential piece of your retirement plan and it is not inexpensive (cheap).  The cost of tail coverage is usually based upon a percentage of the last premium you paid prior to retirement.  Cost can be upwards of 300% of the last premium paid. For example if the last premium you paid for your policy prior to retirement was $2000, your tail coverage could cost as much as $6000. 

It is important to note and to plan for that most carriers will offer a free retirement tail providing that you satisfy certain requirements.  Different carriers have different requirements however most stipulate that you must have been insured with the carrier for three consecutive years to be eligible for a free retirement tail.  Therefore you need to check with your broker and confirm what the requirements are in order to obtain a free retirement tail.  

Do not wait until the last minute to check as we are talking time requirements of at least three years and be careful as to not change carriers when you are within that three year time frame.  And if you do have to change carriers when in that retirement time frame, consult with your broker on what you will need to do to obtain a free tail with the new carrier.  There may be options where you won’t have to start over at year 1 of being continuously insured.

Remember, when you’re getting close to retirement, ask questions, get answers and confirm that you qualify for a free tail or at a minimum can purchase a tail. It will help provide for a secure retirement and possibly add a little more cash to your retirement savings.