Everyone wants an accurate attorney malpractice insurance quote. Remember it is not just the premium quoted that matters, but the coverage provided by that quote. No one wants a low premium that does not provide the proper insurance coverage. While the attorney malpractice application is essential for underwriting and quoting a law firm, the declarations page with the policy endorsements completes the reminder of the picture. Remember once you switch claims-made policies it not only changes your coverage going forward, but also in the past. With claims-made insurance the policy that is inforce at the time a claim is made is the policy that you will settle on.
Attorney insurance malpractice is claims-made coverage. There are no standard policies for lawyers professional liability insurance. Every malpractice insurer has different policy declarations pages and endorsements.
The malpractice declarations page provides basic information such as effective and expiration dates, limits, deductible(s), possibly retroactive/prior acts dates and a listing of the policy endorsements. Without this basic information being reviewed by the agent and/or the underwriter it is possible that an error could occur that might change coverage unexpectedly.
Of equal importance are the policy endorsements. The attorney malpractice policy is modified by these endorsements and without an understanding of the endorsements, policy coverage gaps can occur. Malpractice agents and underwriters are particularly interested in the following:
1. Prior Acts/Retroactive date endorsements for individual attorneys or the firm.
2. Split retroactive dates for policy limits
3. Specific entity endorsements that either exclude a specific entity or provide additional limit coverage for that entity
4. Predecessor firm endorsements
5. Additional named insured endorsements
6. Additional insured endorsements
7. Claims exclusion endorsements
8. Knowledge date endorsements
9. 1st dollar defense or loss only deductible endorsements
10. Claims expenses outside the limits endorsements
11. Aggregate deductible endorsements
12. Public official endorsements that either include or exclude coverage
13. Specific areas of practice endorsements that either include or exclude specific areas of practice
14. Suits for fees exclusions endorsements
15. Controlling interest endorsements
16. Title Agency endorsement
17. Manuscript endorsements
The above list not an all-inclusive list, but not reviewing or providing to the malpractice agent or underwriter the above information can lead to unexpected coverage issues. Claim time is the wrong time to find out about a missing coverage or policy exclusion. No one wants a coverage gap.