A lawyers professional liability (LPL) insurance policy should provide a broad spectrum of protection against lawsuits and malpractice claims. Your challenge as a lawyer researching LPL insurance is determining which policy features provide the best coverage options for your needs.
Each provider in the LPL industry has its own ideas about the right way to protect its policyholders. Therefore, the onus is on the lawyer to figure out which policy provisions provide the broadest coverage and risk-management service.
It’s crucial to avoid the instinct to buy the cheapest policy you can find. It’s more prudent to get as many coverages as you can within the bounds of your budget.
Here’s what to look for in a full-featured LPL policy:
A robust array of coverage options
These are some of the most critical coverage options in an LPL policy:
Claims-made with a broad definition of legal services. Claims-made coverage becomes binding when a client informs you of a potential lawsuit over legal services you’ve provided. Thus, it’s crucial to notify your insurer as soon as possible when you learn about the threat of a claim.
A broad definition of legal services prevents your insurer from excluding you from certain kinds of coverage you may need. Take time to talk over claims-made coverage with your agent and make sure you understand all of its ramifications.
Retroactive coverage. LPL policies usually have retroactive coverage to a specific date. Make sure your LPL does not leave gaps in your coverage.
Full or unlimited prior acts. Your policy should cover certain kinds of actions, errors, or omissions that happened before the inception date. Be sure to ask if your policy offers “full prior acts” coverage or has a retroactive date.
Moonlighting. Some lawyers have full-time jobs outside the legal profession but keep practicing law in their off-hours. Moonlighting language in a policy ensures they can get coverage for part-time work.
Innocent partner. You should not have to pay for the misdeeds of your partner if you haven’t done anything wrong. You could still be named in a lawsuit, however, so innocent-partner coverage limits your exposure to damages.
Disciplinary proceedings. You don’t want to represent yourself in a disciplinary hearing. Disciplinary proceedings coverage helps defray these kinds of costs.
Premium discount opportunities.
Your insurer should be able to provide a price break for:
- New lawyers and part-timers. Beginning and part-time lawyers have much smaller case histories than their veteran counterparts. Because each case represents the potential for a lawsuit, those who handle the fewest cases will normally qualify for the best prices on LPL coverage.
- IT security best practices. Lawyers store a wealth of valuable private data on their computer systems. Thus, IT security breaches can trigger costly lawsuits against attorneys. Following security best practices, as defined by the policy, can earn you a discount.
- Retirement. Some insurers provide an extended reporting period (ERP) to their long-time customers at no cost after they retire from practicing law. Ask about the age and loyalty requirements.
LPL insurers may include benefits such as:
- Subpoena assistance. Delivering all the documents required via discovery can be immensely time-consuming. Subpoena assistance can help defray subpoena expenses.
- Risk management assistance. Some insurers offer a loss-prevention hotline and other types of resources like a risk-management website. These resources can help you understand the nature of your coverage and reduce the likelihood of a claim.
- Dedicated claims support staff. Ideally, you should have access to around-the-clock support from your insurer to help deal with the complications of a claim.
- Trial-time reimbursements. Your policy could help with the cost of appearing at trials or mediation hearings if you get sued.
- Extended reporting periods. If you need to widen the time span of your coverage, some policies have this option available.
Qualities to look for in an LPL insurance provider
- Long track record. Insurers that have been in business the longest often deliver better service because years of experience have taught them the pitfalls of inadequate LPL policies.
- Agent is an underwriter. Some LPL insurance agents also act as underwriters, which can speed the process of getting a premium quote and binding coverage.
- Agent has a law license. When you’re talking over LPL coverage, it can be immensely helpful to have an agent who understands litigation, damages, ethical requirements, and Bar Association obligations.
The McGowan advantage in LPL coverage
McGowan Program Administrators provides all of these benefits in our LPL insurance policies. What sets us apart is the “Power of the Pen” — our ability to mix and match coverages, services, and premiums to write an LPL policy that meets your precise requirements.
Talk to one of our experts today to ensure you have the LPL coverage you need to prosper in your law practice.