When one attorney in a law firm wants increased attorney malpractice limits but the other firm members do not want to pay the extra cost, what can the one attorney do? It seems logical to allow one attorney to increase their policy limits. So if one attorney is willing to pay for increased limits either by an endorsement to their existing attorney malpractice policy or purchase an excess policy just for themselves is this possible?
Unfortunately for the attorney wanting to increase their own limits above the law firm’s lawyers professional liability insurance limits the answer is no.
The reason is that attorney malpractice insurance is written for the law firm. All firm members are covered by that policy. So why would insurers sell lawyer’s professional liability insurance just for the firm and not for individual members?
As a practical matter, if a claim is made against one member of a firm, it is likely that the individual member will be named as well as the firm itself. Any good plaintiff lawyer will discover all of the malpractice insurance coverage that the firm has. If an insurer was providing increased limits for one firm member, it is nearly impossible to carve out insurance coverage for just that firm member. Firm members are not only responsible for their own covered acts, but they are financially responsible for the acts of the firm. No insurer wants to charge a premium for one attorney when the insurer is covering many. And being a duty to defend policy, even if the insurer ultimately does not have to participate in the claim indemnity payment, unlikely, the insurer still has to provide a defense. All of this costs money.
Attorney malpractice insurance is written for the firm, ‘All for one and one for all’.