Are you a legal professional who’s contemplating a change in your career trajectory? Perhaps the thought of leaving your firm or retiring has crossed your mind, but amidst all the planning and excitement, there’s one crucial question that nags at you: Will my legal malpractice insurance still protect me after I depart? As an attorney, safeguarding both your reputation and financial security is paramount. In this blog post, we discuss legal malpractice insurance coverage and explore whether it extends beyond the confines of your current practice.
Introduction: What is Legal Malpractice Insurance?
As a lawyer, you are required to maintain Professional Liability (Errors & Omissions) insurance. This is also commonly referred to as malpractice insurance. The purpose of this insurance is to protect you from financial damages that may arise from allegations of professional negligence.
Malpractice insurance typically covers any losses, judgments, settlements or defense costs related to claims of negligence or wrongful acts. It is an important form of protection against the costs of defending and settling a legal malpractice claim, as well as providing compensation for a client’s financial damages.
In addition to providing financial protection, malpractice insurance can also provide peace of mind by allowing lawyers to practice with confidence. It can provide access to resources such as risk management and client communication tools that can help reduce the likelihood of a legal malpractice claim.
Tail Coverage: Extended Reporting Endorsement
One way to ensure that all your work is covered by insurance when you leave a firm or retire is through an Extended Reporting Endorsement, commonly known as tail coverage. This type of coverage is an endorsement added to your most recent professional malpractice policy. It provides continued protection for lawyers who are no longer practicing or have moved to another firm.
To obtain tail coverage, a lawyer must have an existing malpractice policy in place. It can extend coverage for a specified period after leaving the firm, typically ranging from one to five years. Tail coverage allows you to be protected against claims that may arise from work you performed while at your previous firm. However, it’s important to note that you cannot purchase a separate tail policy; it must be added to your existing policy.
“All Prior Acts” Coverage With a New Policy
Another option to ensure comprehensive coverage after leaving a firm is to purchase “all prior acts” coverage from a new professional malpractice policy carrier. This option may not be suitable for retiring lawyers, as it usually requires an ongoing law practice. With this coverage, the new policy extends protection to all work previously performed, including claims that may arise in the future.
When opting for “all prior acts” coverage, it’s crucial to carefully review the terms and conditions of the new policy. Ensure that it provides adequate protection for claims arising from your past work, even if they are made after you retire or leave the firm.
Coverage Options After Leaving a Firm or Retiring
Retiring lawyers should consult with an experienced insurance broker to explore suitable coverage options. While tail coverage may not be available for retiring lawyers, other alternatives, such as comprehensive “all prior acts” coverage, should be considered.
No matter if you’re retiring or simply leaving your current firm, it’s important to plan ahead and explore your coverage options well in advance. For example, insurance carriers may have specific requirements or limitations regarding coverage for retiring lawyers. Discussing your plans with an insurance broker early on will allow you to understand the timeline for obtaining suitable coverage.
When leaving a firm or retiring, it’s essential to assess the options available for maintaining legal malpractice insurance coverage. Tail coverage through an Extended Reporting Endorsement can provide continued protection for a specified period, while “all prior acts” coverage in a new policy can ensure comprehensive coverage for past work. It is always best to double-check with an experienced insurance broker to make sure that any change in status will not affect your policy or cause gaps in protection. By understanding what your legal malpractice insurance covers and taking proactive steps to protect yourself and your clients, you can ensure that you are properly insured throughout all stages of life as an attorney.