As a small to mid-size law firm, you're juggling numerous responsibilities. From managing caseloads and clients to maintaining compliance with legal regulations, the weight of your daily duties can be overwhelming. In the midst of all this, facing a professional liability claim is likely one of your biggest fears.

You rely on your professional liability insurance to shield your practice from the financial fallout of such claims. But what happens when your insurance provider rejects your claim?


The frustration and anxiety that follow a rejected claim are all too common. You’re left questioning what went wrong and how you can avoid this situation in the future.

At Protexure Insurance Agency, we understand your concerns and we're here to help. In this article, we’ll delve into the top reasons why lawyers' professional liability insurance claims get rejected. Our goal is to equip you with the knowledge to avoid these pitfalls and ensure your firm is adequately protected.


By the end of this article, you’ll have a clear understanding of the common mistakes to avoid and best practices to follow to increase the likelihood of a successful claim. 


What is Lawyers Professional Liability Insurance?


Definition and Purpose


Lawyers professional liability insurance, also known as legal malpractice insurance, is designed to protect legal professionals from claims of negligence, errors, or omissions that may arise from their professional services. This insurance is crucial because it covers the costs associated with defending against such claims, as well as any settlements or judgments that may be awarded.


Key Benefits for Law Firms


  1. Financial Protection: Covers legal fees, settlements, and judgments.
  2. Peace of Mind: Allows you to focus on your practice without constant worry.
  3. Client Trust: Demonstrates a commitment to accountability and professionalism.


Common Reasons for Claim Rejection


Understanding why claims are rejected can help you take proactive steps to avoid these pitfalls. Here are the most common reasons why lawyers' professional liability insurance claims get denied.

  • Failure to Notify Insurer in a Timely Manner
  • Non-Disclosure or Misrepresentation of Information
  • Policy Exclusions and Limitations
  • Lack of Supporting Documentation
  • Acts Outside the Policy Period
  • Breach of Policy Conditions
  • Claims Involving Intentional Acts or Fraud


Failure to Notify Insurer in a Timely Manner


One of the most frequent reasons for claim rejection is failing to notify your insurer as soon as an incident occurs or as soon as you become aware of a potential claim. Insurance policies typically require prompt notification to ensure the insurer can investigate and defend the claim effectively.


Importance of Prompt Notification

Timely notification allows the insurer to take immediate steps to investigate and defend the claim. Delays can compromise the insurer's ability to gather evidence, interview witnesses, and build a strong defense.


Case Studies and Examples

Imagine a scenario where a client threatens to sue your firm over a missed deadline. If you wait until the lawsuit is officially filed before notifying your insurer, critical evidence may be lost, and witnesses' memories may fade. This delay can hinder your defense and increase the likelihood of claim rejection.


Non-Disclosure or Misrepresentation of Information


When applying for insurance or during the policy term, full transparency is crucial. Non-disclosure or misrepresentation of material facts can lead to claim rejection. Insurers rely on accurate information to assess risk and provide appropriate coverage.


Impact of Full Transparency

Full transparency with your insurer ensures they have all the information needed to assess risk accurately. This includes disclosing any past claims, disciplinary actions, or other relevant information.


Consequences of Misrepresentation

Misrepresentation can lead to the voiding of your policy and rejection of claims. For example, if you fail to disclose a previous malpractice claim when applying for insurance, your insurer may deny coverage for future claims based on this non-disclosure.


Policy Exclusions and Limitations


Every insurance policy has exclusions and limitations. Claims that fall within these exclusions or exceed policy limits are often rejected. It's essential to thoroughly understand your policy to know what is and isn't covered.


Understanding Common Exclusions

Common exclusions in professional liability policies include:

  • Intentional acts or fraud
  • Criminal activities
  • Prior known acts
  • Claims involving other types of insurance, such as general liability

How to Navigate Policy Limits

Review your policy carefully to understand its exclusions and limits. If necessary, seek additional coverage to fill any gaps. For instance, to the extent an event such as cyber fraud may not be covered consider a stand-alone cyber policy to prevent a gap in coverage.


Lack of Supporting Documentation


Claims often require extensive documentation to substantiate the facts and justify the claim. Insufficient or incomplete documentation can result in rejection. Proper record-keeping and detailed documentation are vital for a successful claim.


Importance of Proper Record-Keeping

Accurate and comprehensive documentation supports your claim and helps your insurer defend against allegations. This includes maintaining detailed client records, correspondence, and documentation of all relevant actions and decisions.


Tips for Ensuring Complete Documentation

  • Keep thorough notes on client interactions and case developments.
  • Store all communications, including emails and letters, in an organized manner.
  • Document your decision-making process and rationale for key decisions.


Acts Outside the Policy Period


Insurance policies cover claims arising from incidents within a specified time period. Claims related to acts outside this period are not covered. Ensuring continuous coverage, including retroactive dates, is crucial for protection against past acts.


Definition and Examples of Acts Outside the Policy Period

Acts outside the policy period refer to incidents that occur before the retroactive date or after the policy expires. For example, if you purchased coverage in 2022 with a retroactive date of 2020, any incidents that occurred before 2020 would not be covered.


How to Ensure Coverage for Past Acts

To ensure coverage for past acts, choose a policy with a suitable retroactive date that aligns with the start of your practice or prior coverage. Maintain continuous coverage to avoid gaps that could leave you unprotected.


Breach of Policy Conditions


Insurance policies come with specific conditions that policyholders must adhere to. Breaching these conditions, whether knowingly or unknowingly, can lead to claim denial. Understanding and following policy conditions is essential.


Common Policy Conditions

Common conditions include:

  • Timely notification of claims
  • Cooperation with the insurer during investigations
  • Adherence to risk management practices


How to Avoid Breaches

Familiarize yourself with your policy conditions and incorporate them into your practice management. Regularly review your policy and update your procedures to ensure compliance.


Claims Involving Intentional Acts or Fraud


Claims involving intentional wrongdoing or fraudulent acts are typically excluded from coverage. Insurance is designed to protect against negligent acts, not intentional misconduct.


Definition of Intentional Acts and Fraud

Intentional acts involve deliberate wrongdoing, such as knowingly providing false information or committing fraud. These actions are not covered by professional liability insurance.


Why These Claims are Rejected

Insurance is designed to protect against negligence, not intentional misconduct. Claims involving intentional acts or fraud are excluded to discourage unethical behavior and fraud.


How to Improve Your Chances of a Successful Claim


Best Practices for Law Firms

  • Notify promptly: Report potential claims as soon as you become aware of them.
  • Be transparent: Provide full disclosure when applying for insurance and throughout the policy term.
  • Understand your policy: Know your coverage, exclusions, and limitations.
  • Maintain documentation: Keep detailed and organized records of all client interactions and case developments.
  • Adhere to policy conditions: Follow the conditions outlined in your policy to avoid breaches.

Working with Your Insurance Provider

Establish a good relationship with your insurance provider. Regularly communicate with them to stay informed about your coverage and any updates. Proactive engagement can help ensure you meet all policy requirements and avoid claim denials.




Navigating the complexities of lawyers' professional liability insurance can be challenging, but understanding the common reasons for claim rejection can help you avoid these pitfalls. By promptly notifying your insurer of potential claims, maintaining transparency, understanding your policy, keeping thorough documentation, and adhering to policy conditions, you can significantly improve your chances of a successful claim.


At Protexure Insurance Agency, we’re committed to helping you protect your practice. We hope this article has provided valuable insights and practical tips to help you navigate the intricacies of professional liability insurance. Remember, the key to safeguarding your firm lies in being proactive, informed, and diligent.