Jan. 4, 2016
Maintaining professional liability insurance is crucial. We live in a litigious society and clients will sue over almost anything. Even an unfounded allegation of wrongdoing can result in defense costs or even an actual loss payment to resolve a professional liability claim. Multiple claims and/or multiple claim payments can result in the insurance company taking steps to non renew your policy.
If you have received a notice stating that your professional liability insurance will not be renewed, you know exactly how petrifying this situation is. A notice of non renewal can leave a permanent mark on your record. How will you get insurance through another company?
There are any number of reasons that an Insurer can use to non renew your policy. These reasons can be grouped into two categories:
An insurance company's underwriting acceptability of your business may have changed due to adverse claim history, regulatory oversight of your practice or change in your business making your insurability riskier than anticipated.
Sometimes the insurance company will agree to renew your policy but only under changed, more restrictive terms. The insurance company may need to increase your premium, decrease your coverage, or exclude certain risky behavior. In order to do so, state insurance regulations require that the insurance company give sufficient notice to you usually at least 45 days before your policy expires. This is commonly referred to as a notice of intent to renew under conditional terms.
While receiving a non-renewal letter may leave you frantic, or looking for a new insurance company, you need to stop and take a deep breath. There is light at the end of the tunnel!
Independent brokers are great advocates for you because they negotiate with multiple insurance companies on your behalf. Insurance agents generally represent a single company and are obligated to accept the insurance company's decision. Agency agreements generally prevent an insurance agent from applying to other insurance companies on your behalf.
Take time to understand your rights under your current policy. Read the insurance company's requirements and the state insurance requirements related to the timely notice that must be provided to you in the event of policy non-renewal.
In most states, you are entitled to receive a detailed explanation for the insurer's cancellation/non renewal notice. If the written explanation for such action is not clear, you should request clarification in writing. Non-renewal notifications become part of your permanent insurance history. You deserve to know why such action is necessary and formally challenge such a ruling if unfair.
By working with your current insurance agent or broker, you may be able to get the initial decision reversed. A non-renewal of a policy by an insurance company must be disclosed on all future insurance applications, which may result in future denials or higher premiums.
Take control of your professional liability insurance. Work with an independent insurance broker that specializes in professional liability insurance, has access to multiple insurance companies and represents you first and foremost.
Request annual loss history reports. Be familiar with your loss history and know that frequency of claims and claim payments can have a negative consequence on future insurability regardless of your culpability.
Take an active interest in pending claims. Work with your current insurance agent or broker to monitor the efficient resolution of your claim. Do so helps to limit the amount of defense costs and loss payments you and the insurance company suffer, and ensures your satisfaction with the strategies being used to protect your assets.
Cindy Wiedman, founded Wiedman Insurance Services, LLC (LiabilityPro Insurance Advisors*) August 1, 2014. Cindy is a Registered Professional Liability Underwriter (RPLU) and has designed and administered professional liability insurance programs over a 35-year career working for various insurance administrators in the Midwest such as Shand Morahan & Company, Kirke Van Orsdel, Marsh and Lockton Affinity.
*Serving non medical professionals in Iowa, Nebraska, Minnesota, Kansas and Illinois