You are happy about saving money with your replacement coverage. But checking these items could save you even more money in the future:
1. Check the named insured and who is insured.
2. Make sure the effective date of the replacement policy matches the expiration date of your current coverage. By convention, all policies expire on 12:01am and new policies are all effective at 12:01am. When the expiration date matches the effective date, there is no overlap or gap in coverage. A gap can be trivial unless you report a claim on the day of expiration and the new policy is inforce the next day.
3. Make sure that the prior acts date is the same or equivalent on the new policy. With ‘claims- made’ coverage the insurer that is on the risk at the time a claim ‘is made’ is the insurer that settles the claim. Once your old policy has expired, the old insurer has no obligation to respond to ‘claims made and reported’ after the coverage expiration date. Shortening up the prior acts date could cause coverage gaps.
4. Report any incidents or potential claims that you might be aware of to your old insurer prior to the expiration date. Renewal policies exclude coverage for any issues that should have been ‘reasonably known’ prior to the effective date of the replacement policy. ‘Prior Knowledge’ is a leading cause for coverage denial with claims-made insurance.
5. The liability limits and deductible should be the same. If not make sure that you are comfortable with the differences. If you are reducing limits or raising the deductible be aware that once the old coverage expires those coverages are gone. You will settle any future reported claims, even if they happened in the past, on the policy form in force at the time the ‘claim is made’. This is claims-made coverage.
6. If you had CEOL (Claims Expenses Outside the Limits), do you want CEOL in the future? An alternative to this may be higher limits.
7. If you had 1st Dollar or a Loss Only Deductible, do you want 1st Dollar in the future. For example legal practice types such as family law claims frequency allegations. If you have changed your practice to areas that do not get frequent unsubstantiated claims, you may not need it. But if your practice is switching to an area that has a high claims frequency you may want it now. Of course, malpractice insurers also know which practice areas have frequent claim issues, and the insurer may not offer it.
8. Even if you have not had an aggregate deductible in the past, an aggregate deductible is a worthwhile additional expense as this limits the amount you paid on deductibles for any one policy year. More than one firm has run into circumstances that caused them to report multiple claims in one policy year. By then it is too late.
9. Check policy definitions, exclusions, and the insuring agreement to verify that you have equivalent coverage. As an example, the definitions of damages may exclude punitive damages in one policy and not exclude them in another.
10. Check your policy endorsements. As an example, owned entity definitions and endorsements frequently cause coverage issues.
Checking these ten items will help prevent coverage gaps when changing insurers.
Contact Me Today
Lee Norcross, MBA, CPCU
Managing Director, CEO
(616) 940-1101 Ext. 7080