This is an important question if you expect your malpractice insurer to pay your malpractice claim. Not properly insuring the attorneys can cause a claim denial. Lawyers Professional Liability Insurance policies are normally written to cover the Law Firm. By extension all of the attorneys and employees that work for the firm past and present are covered for covered work they have done on behalf of the ‘named insured’ firm.
But now for the catch.
Axis Insurance also provides insurance coverage for part time attorneys and attaches the following part time attorney endorsement to give the firm part time rates.
“PART-TIME ATTORNEY ENDORSEMENT
Solely with respect to policies issued to a named insured who qualifies as a sole practitioner, it is agreed that the definition of you is deleted in its entirety and is replaced by the following:
a. the named insured;
b. any non-lawyer employee who was, is, or becomes an employee of the named insured, but only while acting within the scope of employment on behalf of the named insured at the time of such employment.
All other provisions of the Policy remain unchanged.”
According to AXIS, this endorsement modifies the policy to only include work done by the named attorney. AXIS provides a significant discount for this endorsement. But if the attorney is using any other attorneys as an ‘Independent Contractor’ or ‘Of Counsel’ there is no coverage under this policy for that work.
Better yet, if that policy’s prior acts had covered other employed attorneys, partners in the past, once this endorsement is attached to the policy, that prior acts coverage is now gone.
This is just one example how coverage can be dramatically different, even from the same insurance carrier. All attorney malpractice policies have slightly different wording. And the endorsements do matter. What may be appropriate for one insured law firm is not necessary appropriate for another law firm.