LEGAL MALPRACTICE INSURANCE COMPANIES

LEGAL MALPRACTICE INSURANCE COMPANIES

A Guide To Legal Malpractice Insurance Companies and Markets

This post will describe the structure of the legal malpractice insurance market, and identify the leading insurance carriers.

I. There are two legal malpractice insurance markets:

A. Standard Market – this is where most law firms obtain their coverage. It’s comprised of about 40 insurers, including major national and international insurance companies, and some smaller, specialty insurers, such as those that are operated by a state bar association.

Standard Market legal malpractice insurers are also distinguished by the way they market and sell policies. Most do so through insurance agents and brokers; the others sell directly to attorneys, and so are called “direct writers”.

B. Surplus Lines Market a/k/a/ the “hard-to-place-risks” market – this is for firms that can’t get coverage in the Standard Market, because they’re in a high-risk practice area, i.e., Plaintiff’s Medical Malpractice, Securities, or Intellectual Property; they have an extensive malpractice claims history; their malpractice coverage was non-renewed; they’re in bankruptcy, etc.

This market has about 30 insurers that underwrite legal malpractice insurance, but only about 10 of them are active participants.

The Surplus Lines market is thus less competitive than the Standard Market, and unlike Standard Market insurers, Surplus Lines insurers aren’t constrained by regulators in how much they can raise a firm’s premium. As a result, premiums typically increase 50% – 100% in this market, i.e., if a firm was paying a Standard Market insurer $10,000 for malpractice coverage, it was non-renewed, and had to buy coverage from a Surplus Lines insurer, it would likely pay $15,000 – $20,000 for a malpractice policy that would have lower limits and a higher deductible than its expiring policy.

IIA. Legal Malpractice Insurance Companies – Standard Market

These insurers sell coverage via agents and brokers.

AIG/Chartis
Allianz (Fireman’s Fund)
Allied World
Arch
Aspen
Attorney’s Protective
AXIS
BRIT
Chubb
CNA
Crum & Forster
GUARD (Berkshire Hathaway)
Hartford
Hanover
Ironshore
Liberty Mutual
Markel
OneBeacon
ProAssurance (Medmarc Casualty)
StarStone National

Swiss Re (Westport)
Travelers
W.R. Berkley (Carolina Casualty)
Wesco (AmTrust)
XL Catlin
Zurich

Some of these insurers, i.e., CNA, Hanover, Hartford, Liberty Mutual, etc., are well-known to attorneys, because they’ve been insuring lawyers for many years, have a large share of the legal malpractice insurance market, and sell personal lines of insurance like auto and homeowners, and thus advertise extensively.

Others are less well-known, because they’re based in Europe or Bermuda, i.e., Allied World, Aspen, AXIS, Catlin, and Ironshore, they’ve been underwriting this insurance in the US for fewer years, and they don’t offer personal lines insurance.

Some, such as Attorneys Protective, underwrite coverage in just a few states, while CNA, AIG, and others underwrite in almost every state.

IIB. Legal Malpractice Insurance Companies – Standard Market – Direct Writers

These insurers sell directly to law firms, rather than through an agent or broker, and legal malpractice insurance is the only coverage that they offer.

ALAS
ALPS
Minnesota Lawyers Mutual

IIC. Legal Malpractice Insurance Companies – Standard Market – Direct Writers – Bar Associations

In these states, the state bar association operates a legal malpractice insurance company, which sells coverage directly to law firms, and competes with the Standard Market insurers:

Attorneys Insurance Mutual of the South (AL and TN)
Florida Lawyers Mutual Insurance Company

Illinois State Bar Association Mutual Insurance Company
Lawyers Mutual Insurance Company of California
Lawyers Mutual Insurance Company of Kentucky
Lawyers Mutual Insurance Company of North Carolina
Ohio Bar Liability Insurance Company
Oklahoma Attorneys Mutual Insurance Company
Oregon Professional Liability Fund
Texas Lawyers’ Insurance Exchange
The Bar Plan Mutual Insurance Company (IN, KS, MO, NM, and TN)
Wisconsin Lawyers Mutual Insurance Company

III. Legal Malpractice Insurance Companies – Surplus Lines/Non-Standard Market

Admiral
Amtrust
BRIT
Catlin
Colony
Columbia Casualty
Darwin National Assurance Co.
Endurance
Evanston
Everest National
General Star Insurance Co.
Nautilus Insurance Co.
Grosvenor
Hiscox
Ironshore
James River
Kinsale
Landmark/RSUI
Lexington
Lloyd’s of London (several “syndicates” underwrite legal malpractice insurance in the US under the Lloyd’s name )
Maxum Specialty
Noetic Specialty
Prime Insurance Co.
ProSight
QBE
RDI
Scottsdale
Starr
Starstone
Verus

Some of these insurers are smaller, stand-alone companies; others are owned by large insurers, i.e., Columbia Casualty (owned by CNA); Lexington (AIG/Chartis); and Darwin (Allied World). Still others operate in both the standard and non-standard markets, and thus appear in both of these lists, i.e., Catlin and Ironshore.

Too, many of these insurers are “opportunistic”, i.e., selective about the law firms they insure, and focus on market niches in which there’s likely to be less competition, i.e., Patent law firms.

Published by Lawyers Insurance Group, legal malpractice insurance brokers and subject matter experts.

Our mission is to find the best terms available in the market for your firm. 

We also help attorneys who have unusual malpractice insurance needs:

  • Coverage non-renewed.
  • Insurers won’t offer quote.
  • Policy limits > $5 million.
  • Office outside of U.S.
  • Firm merger or acquisition.
  • Firm emerging from bankruptcy.
  • Low-cost tail coverage.

To learn more about legal malpractice insurance, including attorneys’ biggest misconceptions, and how to obtain the best terms, visit our FAQs page:

LEGAL MALPRACTICE INSURANCE FAQs: Answered

To obtain the best terms on your firm’s malpractice insurance, download, fill out, and return this one-page premium estimate form.

 

FURTHER READING

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