In the state of Wisconsin, any legal issue can be stressful for clients and their families. At WILMIC, we understand that reducing the risk of legal malpractice claims and making sure you have adequate coverage for your practice is critical. Since 1986, thousands of your predecessors and colleagues have relied on us to protect them from claims, reduce risk and efficiently handle their insurance needs.
Read on for answers to questions we are frequently asked about legal malpractice insurance. Don’t see the answer to your question? Call 800-373-3839 to ask us directly about how our lawyers work through malpractice claims and how our insurance products can help you.
Yes. Honesty is always the best policy when it comes to claims and potential claims. In fact, professional liability and legal malpractice insurance policies require lawyers to report all claims and potential claims to their insurance carrier.
There are numerous factors that play a role in the cost of your professional malpractice insurance. What we can say about practicing in unfamiliar areas of law – or “dabbling” – is that it may increase your risk of being hit with a malpractice claim. According to our statistics, more than 60% of malpractice claims involve lawyers who practice less than 20% of their time in the subject area from which the claim arose.
There are two common ways to be sure all of your work is covered by insurance when you leave a firm or retire. The first is by way of an Extended Reporting Endorsement or “Tail coverage.” This type of coverage is an endorsement onto the most recent professional malpractice policy that can provide coverage for a lawyer who is no longer practicing or has moved onto another firm. You must have an existing malpractice policy in place to obtain tail coverage; you cannot purchase a separate tail policy. The second way is to purchase “all prior acts” coverage from a new professional malpractice policy carrier after you leave your firm. This option would not likely be available to a retiring lawyer.
In our experience, bankruptcy and collections, estate planning and probate, real estate law, family law, and plaintiff’s’ personal injury are the top five generators of legal malpractice claims.
Legal malpractice insurance typically covers the cost of defending against and settling legal malpractice claims. Legal malpractice claims can be filed against attorneys for a variety of reasons, such as breach of contract, negligence, fraud, and misrepresentation.
If an attorney is found to be liable for legal malpractice, the attorney’s malpractice insurance carrier will typically pay the cost of the judgment or settlement, up to the limits of the policy.
The cost of legal malpractice insurance in Wisconsin varies depending on a number of factors, including the attorney’s area of practice, claims history, law firm size, years of experience, and desired coverage limit.
Attorneys who practice in high-risk areas of law, such as personal injury and real estate, will typically pay higher insurance premiums than attorneys who practice in lower-risk areas of law. While no case is the same, attorneys with a history of claims will also pay higher premiums.
The size of the law firm and the attorney’s years of experience can also affect the cost of legal malpractice insurance. Larger law firms and attorneys with more experience typically pay higher premiums.
Finally, the coverage limit desired is a major factor in determining the cost of legal malpractice insurance. Attorneys who desire higher coverage limits will pay higher rates.
It is important to note that legal malpractice insurance rates can vary widely between firms and attorneys. For a more accurate quote, you can get in touch through our premium estimate page.
The amount of legal malpractice insurance that an attorney needs depends on a number of factors, including the attorney’s area of practice, claims history, and law firm size. However, most experts recommend that attorneys carry at least $1 million in coverage.
Attorneys who practice in high-risk areas of law, such as personal injury and real estate, may want to carry higher coverage limits. Attorneys with a history of claims may also want to carry higher coverage limits.
According to our statistics, newer lawyers are actually targeted for malpractice claims at a lower rate than their more experienced counterparts. 11% of claims we covered were made against first-year lawyers, while 30% were against lawyers who had been in practice for 10-20 years.
Believe it or not, the majority of claims do not stem from something that takes place at the negotiating table or in the courtroom; they stem from attorney calendars. Administrative procedures, calendaring and planning errors top the list of the most common lawyering mistakes.
For more malpractice information, view our malpractice resources here.