Ask the Underwriter: "How Do I Know When I Need Prior Acts Coverage?"
Introducing AIM's brand new feature, "Ask the Underwriter" with Wilma S. Fields, CPCU, CIC, Vice President and Underwriter. Each quarter, Wilma will answer a new question frequently asked by our insureds and potential insureds. This quarter, she tackles: "How do I know when I need prior acts coverage?"
Q. If an attorney in a law firm leaves and begins practice as a sole practitioner or with a new firm, is prior acts coverage needed under a new malpractice policy?
A. In order to be eligible for full prior acts coverage under a new policy, one must be a majority successor in interest to the assets and liabilities of the predecessor firm(s) as named in the application for malpractice insurance. One attorney leaving a firm normally does not fit this definition. There are, however, two means by which an insured can purchase tail coverage. The first is under the former firm’s policy.
In general, a former firm’s policy provides coverage for an attorney who practiced with that firm and left. This is the case provided the former firm continues its malpractice insurance coverage. The attorney’s coverage is only for acts, errors, and omissions made while acting on behalf of the former firm up to the time the attorney left. If the former firm later discontinues its coverage, the attorney who left also becomes uninsured. This brings us to the second means of providing prior acts coverage.
Attorneys who are insured by AIM can purchase individual tail coverage when leaving their firm if they are concerned that their former firm may not continue its malpractice insurance coverage.