Most of us lawyers buy legal malpractice insurance to protect ourselves, but do we really know what coverage we bought?
Of course, policies vary and it depends on what you purchased. As we advise any clients with insurance recovery issues, you always need to start by looking at your specific policy. In general, here is what you bought.
WHO IS COVERED?
Who is covered is defined in the definition sections of the policy concerning the meaning of who is an insured. It may include:
- The insured named in the policy — either the individual, the partners, or the law firm entity and its predecessors
- Per diem attorneys, independent contract attorneys, employees and of counsel attorneys, provided that they are performing duties on behalf of the named insured
- Individuals or entities that get acquired by the named insured during the policy period (be advised that this may require that you notify the insurance company of such acquisition and, potentially, pay additional premium, for that individual or entity to be insured)
- The estate of an insured, along with its heirs and representatives
- A spouse or lawful domestic partner of any insured, named as a co-defendant in a lawsuit against an insured involving a covered event
WHAT IS TYPICALLY COVERED?
- Claims involving your professional services performed as a lawyer, mediator, arbitrator, Notary Public, or as an administrator, conservator, receiver, executor, guardian, trustee or in another fiduciary capacity, in the course of rendering professional services.
- Disciplinary proceedings
- Network security and privacy coverage, which includes coverage related to computer hacks and the unlawful disclosure of client personal information
- Crisis Management Expenses, which generally means public relations consultants and related activities
- Identity Recovery, which protects the attorney owners from identity theft.
Again, consult your policy, paying attention to your declarations page and any and all riders or endorsements, to see what coverages you have.
Remember, understanding what coverages you actually have will protect you in the event of a claim. The biggest problem I see with lawyers and these policies is their failure to timely notify the insurance company of a covered or potentially covered claim.
If you have any questions, believe that you may have a potentially covered claim, or are experiencing problems with your malpractice insurance company, do not hesitate to give us a call.
Evan S. Schwartz
Founder of Schwartz, Conroy & Hack