Attorney Fees are almost universally excluded from the definition of damages in attorney malpractice policies. Punitive damages may or may not be excluded from malpractice coverage, but still may not be permitted by your state.
Your insurer may pay defense costs and the award for damages in a covered malpractice claim. Fees and sanction awards are another matter. Fees or sanction awards often exceed the value of the underlying claim. Awarded punitive damages could dwarf the underlying case.
The time to check for coverage is not after the punitive damage award. So how can you determine whether a particular malpractice insurance policy covers punitive damages? Punitive damage awards are normally awarded for egregious acts some malpractice policies provide coverage other policies exclude the coverage. Just because it is excluded does not mean you will find it in the ‘exclusion section’. The more common place to find the punitive damages ‘exclusion’ is in the damages definition. In the Aspen American policy it is the definition of damages:
E. Damages means any compensatory sum and includes a judgment, award or settlement, provided any settlement is negotiated with the Company’s written consent.
Damages do not include:
1. The return, reduction or restitution of fees, expenses or costs for professional services performed, or to be performed, by the Insured and injuries that are a consequence of the foregoing;
2. Fines, penalties, forfeitures, or sanctions;
3. The multiplied portion of any multiplied awards;
4. Injunctive or declaratory relief; or
5. Punitive or exemplary damages.
Click here for Punitive/Compensatory Damages Allowed by State
CLICK HERE TO OBTAIN AN ATTORNEY MALPRACTICE QUOTE
This blog is an excerpt from the policy. The complete policy along with applicable endorsements could impact the information provided above.
Contact Me Today
Lee Norcross, MBA, CPCU
California License # 0D87292
L Squared Insurance Agency, LLC ® DBA in California as
L2 L Squared Insurance Agency, License # 0L93416
Managing Director, CEO
(616) 940-1101 Ext. 7080