Have you ever been told that buying something would be a “quick and easy” process, but feel that when you go to do it, it’s not really the case?
When shopping for insurance, it appears most carriers strive to make the process as simple and pain-free as possible. With that being said, the judgement of whether something is actually simple and pain-free is quite relative. Often times something that you may think would take 5 minutes, turns into an hour that you were not expecting.
When shopping for something like car insurance, the application process could be much simpler due to its nature. A simple overview of the type of car, year, and driving record history will give an insurance provider a good idea of the appropriate rates. On the contrary professional liability insurance, while not difficult, can take more work to apply for than one may expect.
We hear you, professional liability insurance applications stink! They are time consuming, they ask questions that might not even apply to you, and every single application is different. We don’t like it either, and we’ve been in the business for 25 years.
And to make it worse, when lawyers ask, “Why does it have to be this way?” they are often met with a cop-out response. “That’s just the way it is.”
Well, enough is enough. We are going to address the elephant in the room and explain the problems with professional liability insurance applications, including:
- The application is long
- Some of the Questions Don’t Apply to Me or My Firm
- My Area of Practice isn’t listed on the Application
- Am I limited to only the Areas of Practice I listed on my application?
- Every Application is Different
The good news is, there’s a solution to every problem. Read on to learn more about why these problems exist and how to fill out your application.
1. The Application Is Long
When filling out an application for professional liability insurance it can feel like the insurance carrier is just throwing in questions for fun. Do they enjoy taking up my time?
The application for professional liability insurance is long and meant to accommodate all different types of law firms. While not difficult, the application requires some time to gather specifics, including financial information, area of practice break down, claim history documents, firm management protocol specifics, etc., that may not be right at your fingertips when applying.
Applications are more detailed with the goal in mind of getting all or most information needed in order to fully review a firm and eliminate all or most “back and forth” before providing official binding terms.
Our best advice is to be patient with the process, as we are simply trying to understand the dynamics of your firm the best we can. The insurance premium and acceptability are based on many factors. The more information we have, the better we can insure you and possibly save you money.
2. Some of the Questions Don’t Apply to Me or My Firm
It can be very frustrating when you come across a question on the application that does not directly apply to your law firm. How are you supposed to give the most accurate answer when the question at hand doesn’t apply? And what about when the answer is to be selected from a multiple choice or drop-down list? Where is the “not applicable” option?
There are certainly times when a question may not be applicable to your firm. If this is the case, respond to the question as best as possible. If you have further questions or concerns, they can be directed to your agent and they will be able to help smooth out the application process.
3. My Area of Practice Isn’t Listed on the Application
The practice of law contains a vast scope of different practice areas, yet we ask attorneys to try to fit the entirety of their practice into a few simple categories.
It can be extremely frustrating if you don’t see your specific area of practice listed on an insurance application. Then you have to attempt to make yourself and all the things you do fit into a category predefined by an insurance company. Frustrating, right?
Every firm is different in so many ways, therefore it is difficult to create an application that properly allows all firms to “categorize” their practice perfectly. We try our best, but at some point, insurance carriers do have to limit the number of options we put on the application.
If you think your area of practice does not fit a category provided on the application, there is an “other” category provided in which you can explain your area of practice in the provided description box. The agent and/or underwriter reviewing your application can help you to re-categorize this area of practice properly, if needed.
4. Am I Limited to Only the Areas of Practice I Listed on My Application?
After filling out the entire application and fitting the entire scope of your work into a few simple words, sometimes attorneys feel they are then limited to those areas of practice for the next 12 months.
What happens if you want to expand your areas or practice? Or, what happens if you want to take on a case related to your defined areas of practice but not an exact match?
Our specific application asks for firms to provide the area of practices they handled in the past 12 months.
If a firm decides to handle a new area of practice that was not disclosed on their last insurance application, that is fine! Lawyers are required to provide an updated area of practice table at renewal each year. This allows the carrier to reevaluate any changes the firm had in the last year.
Firms are not limited to areas of practice that were disclosed on a previous year’s application.
5. Every Application Is Different
All insurance carriers have their own version of the application. Many have similar aspects, but all have their own additions and omissions. These differences can cause a headache for attorneys when they are trying to apply for insurance. The fact that there is no standardized application for insurance is probably the biggest problem with the application process.
Insurance carriers are constantly working to evaluate the dynamics of a law firm and in-turn evaluate if there is a relation to potential claims in the future. Applications are modified in order to retrieve the most information possible from the firm in order to properly evaluate.
Some carriers may be looking further into a certain aspect of a firm due to patterns they have been seeing with their current policy holders in that particular jurisdiction, that another carrier may not be experiencing. In turn, one carrier may dig deeper into a certain topic on the application than another carrier may.
The Key to Successfully Filing Professional Liability Insurance Applications
Professional liability insurance applications may appear to be a bit lengthier and demanding than expected, but don’t let this deter you from finishing the application process.
One way to navigate around these problems is to prepare as much information as possible before sitting down to fill out the application. If you get all your ducks in a row beforehand, the application will be much less lengthy and time consuming.
Another solution is to work closely with an insurance agent or carrier. They will be able to walk you through some of the application problem areas and navigate through these problem areas.
Before you begin filling out the application, ask the insurance specialist what areas of the application people tend to have questions on. Knowing what sections others struggle with or spend more time on will help you prepare for your application process.
Answering the application questions to the best of your ability and making it all the way through to the last page can seriously pay off for your law firm. With the right preparation or the help of an insurance specialist, a professional liability insurance application could take just 15 minutes to complete. And, you never know, those 15 minutes it takes you to fill out the application could save you some serious dough on your professional liability premium.