Several factors will affect an attorney’s legal malpractice insurance cost. An insurance company will evaluate an attorney’s risk based upon various underwriting criteria. Then specific factors relevant to an attorney will determine the rate the attorney will be charged by the insurance carrier.
In determining an attorney’s potential risk, an insurance company will look at the attorney’s prior history of professional responsibility. The company will consider whether the attorney has ever undergone State bar disciplinary proceedings. In evaluating risk, red flags in an attorney’s background might include multiple malpractice claims filed against him or her, non-payment of insurance costs or deductibles, any disciplinary proceedings, or non-cooperation of any kind. An insurance company may also look at whether the attorney has any existing business relationships with clients or other conflicts of interest, whether the attorney was rejected by other insurance carriers, and whether the attorney maintains other professional licenses as well.
After evaluating an attorney’s potential risk, another fact-specific analysis will determine the exact insurance rate an attorney will be charged. Rates will be higher, for example, for high-risk practice areas such as real estate and banking. Rates will be affected by factors that the attorney elects, such as the limit of liability and deductible amounts chosen. Factors outside of an attorney’s control, such as the risk pool within the lawyer’s geographic area and overall state of the insurance market, will also affect the legal malpractice insurance cost for a given attorney.
Different insurance companies will evaluate these and other cost factors differently, tailoring malpractice insurance to the individual circumstances of a given attorney or firm.