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Insurance Glossary

The world of insurance for law firms can be confusing, and difficult to navigate. We've created this glossary because these common insurance terms should be easy to understand.

Many times friends or colleagues outside of ALPS ask me, “What’s the hardest part of your job?”

A lot of people assume that it’s really hard talking to lawyers, but honestly  lawyers’ malpractice insurance is very important to lawyers. They want to make sure they’re getting a good policy for a competitive rate. I typically have great conversations, especially if I contact an attorney (or firm administrator) a couple of months prior to the firm’s renewal date.

So the hardest part of my job isn’t speaking to firm administrators or lawyers about their malpractice insurance. It’s actually getting past the initial assumption that ALPS isn’t any different than anyone else trying to offer them a quote, including their current agent or broker.

The first thing law firms should know about lawyers’ malpractice insurance is that policies can vary greatly in what they provide for coverage options. Other kinds of insurance are so standardized that only price matters. Lawyers’ malpractice insurance conversely is highly specialized, so price is completely relative! It is important to understand the basics of buying lawyers’ malpractice insurance before you shop. If you have several quotes, it is likely that the lowest priced quote also comes with inferior coverage options. You want to make sure you are paying a good competitive rate, but aren’t sacrificing coverage that really hurts you in the event of a claim, sometimes significantly.

Once a law firm understands that policy features and price both need to be considered they realize there may be an opportunity to obtain a better policy, or a better price, or even both!

So why get a quote from ALPS when a firm’s agent can deliver “multiple quotes” for them? There are two good reasons: first ALPS is a direct writer (which I’ll elaborate on for the majority of this post), but basically means that we provide the firm with direct access to our program without the need for a “middleman.” Second, an agent shopping a firm’s coverage has a limited number of carriers they have appointments with, all of which may have expectations on the agent for sales success and renewal rates. This typically results in pressure to renew with the same carrier year after year and for these carriers to deliver similar coverages. This is counter to what is expected by the firm, but unfortunately this is a reality of the agent/broker world.

To truly get a competitive comparison against a firm’s current coverage, a firm should get a quote from a direct writer.

To be a successful direct writer a carrier must possess certain characteristics.  While most malpractice insurance carriers sell multiple lines of insurance through multiple brokerages, ALPS as a direct writer is a “mono-line” carrier. This means we sell nothing but lawyers’ malpractice insurance. ALPS must be successful at understanding lawyer’s needs and delivering on our promise because we have nothing else to fall back on.  Since the mid- ‘80’s (the start of the modern era of claims-made and reported malpractice insurance) ALPS has gained the respect of so many state bar associations, we are now endorsed by more than any other carrier, both direct or agent based!

ALPS also understands your time is valuable. Filling out applications all day long isn’t what anyone wants. ALPS has the ability to use the policy and application from your current carrier, which you already complete each year for your renewal, to see if we are a good fit.  With complete information, we can identify in 1-3 days if we can offer a competitive option.  Once we deliver an estimate, now a firm truly has a choice, one they can make themselves.

Firms use our estimates to see if what their current agent delivers is superior, similar, or inferior. There are times when our offer is not better than the firm’s current policy. If so, you now know your current coverage is solid. Most of the time (90%+) , when I offer a quote to a firm, the ALPS policy is superior. Much of the time (70%+) our premium is competitive. Those are great odds!

Doesn’t your firm deserve to see if you could do better on your insurance policies this year? Well the answer is: of course! Will your law firm be willing to consider that ALPS can help you do better? Would you want to know that you can be insured by a specialist with excellent customer service and nationwide respect?  Will you consider that ALPS just might be different than the rest of the market and this is the year to give ALPS a shot?  Give us the opportunity and we’ll make it worth your effort!



Coming to ALPS with an extensive business background, Kurt brings a unique perspective on liability insurance to his role in business development. Having owned his own business Kurt understands what decision makers value. While liability insurance isn’t top of mind for every law firm on a daily basis, choosing the right carrier is certainly an important decision to make when the time is right. As a business owner, Kurt was working with partners that he knew would take care of his business when he needed them most. He understands that the firms he works with want the best value for their hard earned dollar and the peace of mind knowing that the firm can always rely on their partners. This relationship is often sold to firms but it is not always delivered. Kurt’s role at ALPS is to be a conduit between law firms and ALPS’ staff of underwriters, claims attorneys and others to deliver on ALPS unique and time-tested value proposition.

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