by Mike Mooney
Obtaining a liability policy can be one of the largest expenditures a firm or solo practitioner will make each year. With that being said, consider the following six things when evaluating a carrier:
Experience - How long have they written lawyer’s professional liability policies? How long have they written policies in your state? Look for longevity and commitment.
AM Best Rating - AM Best is an independent rating agency that rates carriers on their financial stability and their ability to pay claims (not how pretty their website is and how nice their customer services folks are). Look for, at the very least, an A-rated carrier.
Claims Handling - Who will handle your claims? Is it someone who possesses experience with lawyers and only handles lawyers? Is it a generalist who may be handing a lawyer’s claim today and a home inspectors claim tomorrow? Look for someone who specializes in lawyer’s claims. Most reputable carriers have lawyers on staff that handle claims.
Panel Counsel - Who will serve as your attorney? Are they a local firm? Look for a panel counsel that is familiar with your state and jurisdiction.
Distribution - Does the carrier only write lawyers? Do they only write in your state? Seek a carrier that has a diversified portfolio in case there is an uptick in claims or some type of market interruption. You don’t want a carrier that has all their eggs in one basket and has to exit the marketplace after a year or two of poor results. Insurance is about spreading risk.
Risk Management Services - Does the carrier offer practical services that will help you mitigate risk and run a better practice? Look for a carrier that provides a risk management website, anonymous claims hotline, newsletters and emails alerts, etc. Don’t let your policy just be a piece of paper.
An insurance policy is the safety net that protects your assets and billable hours. Take time to align yourself with a competent carrier partner.
Mike Mooney is vice president of bar association programs at USI Affinity.