By Mike Mooney
Every month we review hundreds of applications to our Lawyers' Professional Liability program. While most of the forms are filled out properly, more than a few contain one or more of the following errors:
The Area of Practice Grid - The grid segments the percentage of gross revenue or billable hours by practice area. The grid needs to equal 100%. Not 87.5% or 125%. We use the grid as a driver in determining the terms and conditions of a policy offer.
Attorney Information - Carriers want to know the name of everyone practicing law at the firm and what their affiliation is to the organization. Common questions include:
Are they full time/part time/of counsel/independent contractor?
What was their hire date?
When were they first admitted to the State Bar?
On average, how many hours do they work in a week?
What are their primary and secondary areas of practice?
It’s important to ensure that this information is properly relayed to the carrier so no gap in coverage occurs.
Supplements - Many questions on the application, if answered a certain way, require you to complete a supplement. For example:
Does the firm perform class action or mass tort?
Has the firm had previous claims?
Does the firm sue for fees?
If the question directs you to fill out a supplement, it will be required in order to process the application. Here, the carrier is looking for additional information. Completing the supplement will save you time in the end.
Website - Plain and simple, make sure your website content corresponds with the information you provide in your application. All underwriters review their prospects’ websites. If you fail to list all your attorneys or practice areas on your application, the carrier will find out. While an omission may be a simple oversight, the carrier could think you are trying to misrepresent yourself.
It’s important to take the time to ensure that your application is completed thoroughly and accurately. The application is the only avenue you have to convince a carrier that you are a good risk and deserve a competitive premium. The carrier doesn’t get to see you in the court room or see your law school transcripts. The only thing they have to rely on is your application.
Mike Mooney is vice president of bar association programs at USI Affinity.