Helping law firms move from uncertainty to confidence is all in a day’s work for the underwriting department at Lawyers Mutual.
And it’s yet another everyday value enjoyed by LM policyholders.
The underwriting department is led by Vice President Kathy Fisher, who before joining Lawyers Mutual was in private practice herself. This gives her a real-world understanding of the pressures and needs of practitioners.
“As a result of being in private practice for 14 years and having defended LM insureds during that time, I understand what our insureds are experiencing,” she says. “My legal experience also helps me communicate with insureds about issues concerning their coverage or practice that are apparent to me because I am a lawyer, and it helps me assess and underwrite for the risk associated with different areas of practice.”
To get a snapshot of a typical day in the underwriting office, we reached out to Kathy and asked her what it’s like on her side of the desk. Here are some excerpts:
What makes LM underwriting unique? “In one word, accessibility. Any LM insured can interact with us directly by telephone, email, or in-person to discuss their application, their policy, and underwriting options available or recommended related to changes to their practice. LM is also different because we are a mutual insurance company. Ownership is shared among all policyholders. Our underwriting is guided by our goals and responsibilities to all of our policyholders.”
Tell us about an actual interaction with an insured lawyer. “I recently had a telephone conversation with an insured concerning their coverage limits. An insured should have coverage limits relative to the potential amount of damages associated with their practice in the event of an error or omission. This does not always equate to the amount of the transaction involved. Real estate is a good example. The potential damages that might result from a real estate transaction are rarely the full amount of the sales price or loan amount.”
How was the insured feeling before the call? “Uncertain. They were trying to determine whether the coverage limits on their policy were adequate in light of the monetary exposure associated with their areas of practice.”
How did the insured feel after call? “Decided. Our conversation allowed them to ask me questions, gather information, and quickly resolve their concerns. This interaction is the value of Lawyers Mutual!”
What other factors are relevant to decisions about coverage limits and exposure? “When considering coverage limits and changes to your coverage limits, it is important to understand that your professional liability policy is a claims-made policy. This means that the policy in effect at the time a claim is made and reported determines coverage, not the policy which may have been in effect at the time of the alleged act or omission.”
What part of your job do you like best? “There are two parts of my job that I really enjoy. I get to develop relationships with our insureds. I enjoy getting an update and picture from insureds about their family, pets, and vacations, and sharing mine with them. A cute animal picture will always bring a smile to your face! I also like the continuous challenge and learning that comes with being an underwriter. Underwriting is like the law; it is never static and always changing.”
What are some key lessons you’ve learned on your professional journey? “I feel like this question begs for a corny (my 20-year-old child would say ‘cheesy’) response, so here goes. The most important quality I learned from my mentors as a young lawyer was integrity. Sometimes, I must make difficult underwriting decisions and have difficult conversations as a result of those decisions, but every interaction with an insured involves honesty and respect. Integrity is a core value for all of us at LM and a quality that guides me every day.”
So why do you value Lawyers Mutual? How can we provide even greater value? We’d love to hear from you.