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January 25, 2013

New Professional Liability Insurance Coming for Bar Members

With the new year comes an exciting change to the Philadelphia Bar Association's Insurance Program - a new and much-improved lawyers' professional liability product offering.

Over the course of the last year, USI Affinity, the Association's exclusively endorsed insurance broker, worked with the Association to review its professional liability insurance offering. When it was determined that improvements were needed, an RFP process was undertaken. That process included soliciting and reviewing proposals from potential new carriers, interviewing carriers and then making a decision on a carrier and product. At the end of that process, USI Affinity recommended that the program be switched from the current carrier, Westport/Swiss Re to CNA. That recommendation was approved by the Association's Board of Governors at its November 2012 meeting. Policies that renew on or after April 1, 2013 will now be written with CNA.

Part of the reason for making the decision to switch the endorsement was CNA's position as a leader in providing professional liability insurance to law firms, with more than 50 years of experience and more than 44,000 firms insured nationwide. Their underwriting and claims teams are committed to a "customer first" approach, and their risk control resources provide both up to date and very practical assistance in running a practice while avoiding professional liability claims.

Another consideration was making the new offering more affordable for Association members. CNA has designed its rates for this program to be lower than expiring premiums in the current program. In addition, Association members will benefit from a new credit providing 5 percent off a firm's professional liability premium. For each attorney in a firm who is a Philadelphia Bar Association member, the firm will receive a 5 percent credit on that attorney's pro-rata share of the firm’s premium. In addition, CNA is offering a 7.5 percent risk management credit per attorney (in the same manner as the Association membership credit) for two years after taking the risk control program given by the Association's Insurance Programs Committee. This combination should result in significant savings for program participants.

Finally, the policy form is improved over that provided under the current program, being significantly better in some areas. Full details about the new offering will be coming soon, and members will have the information needed to make an informed decision when it is time to renew their professional liability coverage. If your firm is currently insured through the Philadelphia Bar Association program with Westport Insurance Company, USI Affinity advises that the transition will take place as follows:

• In the near future, your firm will be receiving a Non Renewal notice from Westport Insurance Company. You do not need to be concerned: this is a legal requirement and simply part of the transition process to the new program underwritten by CNA.

• Your current coverage underwritten by Westport is not cancelled and you will not be without coverage. Your coverage will continue with Westport until your policy Expiration Date.

• USI Affinity will remain your broker and administrator and will transition your coverage to the new CNA policy when your current policy expires. Here is how that will work:

• Approximately 90 days prior to your Professional Liability policy's expiration date, you will receive your CNA renewal package from USI Affinity.

• This package is designed to make the transition to CNA as easy as possible for your firm. It will contain a simplified renewal application for your firm to complete.

• Simply follow the instructions included for filling out and returning that CNA renewal application and USI Affinity will transition your firm's coverage to the new Professional Liability program.

"If you are not currently with the Philadelphia Bar Association's professional liability program, we urge you to give it a long look. We think you'll agree that this new endorsed professional liability offering is a great value, and a tremendous member benefit," said Carl "Hank" Delacato Jr., co-chair of the Association's Insurance Programs Committee. "We have worked in partnership with USI Affinity to make sure that our members have access to the best products and get the best possible service. This change in our professional liability offering is another example of that focus on excellence. Our members now have access to a superior professional liability insurance offering, with outstanding coverage, services and value."

USI Affinity is a leader in providing professional liability insurance, with more than 60 years of experience, 30,000 attorneys insured nationwide and more than 30 bar association endorsements, including those of the Pennsylvania Bar Association, Philadelphia Bar Association and many of Pennsylvania's other county bars.

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