William Gallagher Associates, Lynne Ahearn, ARM, Senior Vice President
How and why did you come to work with law firms? I specialized in assisting finance teams with their executive risk management for several years, with professional liability being a big part of it. It was a natural fit to dive in to the legal community and focus on the issues the management of law firms were facing.
Why is your service/product important to law firms? At the core of our insurance brokerage operation, you will find client service. Insurance is the equitable transfer of the risk of a loss from one entity, the law firm, to another, the insurer, in exchange for payment. It is a form of risk management primarily used to hedge against the risk of a contingent, uncertain loss. Insurance products are important to law firms as a way to protect the firm’s balance sheet. At WGA, our team offers a law firm more than just a transactional solution. Many of the firms I speak to do not have someone dedicated to insurance, so I work as their outsourced risk manager, to help communicate changes to the marketplace, and to strategize on program structure and to review new perils as they come to the fore.
What makes your service/product unique? Our commitment to client service makes our Professional Service Practice at WGA unique. We are not reactive & transactional to our clients’ needs but, in fact, proactive. We look to educate our clients on emerging trends with seminars, webinars and round table discussions.
Share how your company solves problems. The Professional Services Practices reviews each risk for its unique profile. With law firms, we examine the appetite of risk for the particular firm and then look to structure an insurance program that meets the needs while offering solutions that may be outside the box. The latest risk issue that has been getting plenty of press has been data security. Many firms feel that this exposure should be picked up by the malpractice insurance however there are several concerns that we have as broker: 1) Will the policy actually provide coverage 2) Retention levels for LPL are significant, therefore if cover is afforded the recovery may be limited 3) Management of insurance limits, do you as a firm really want to dilute limits from true malpractice protection to deal with non-core coverage issues and 4) Overall cost – LPL limits are much more costly than data privacy limits.
Share a success story your company has experienced working with a law firm. We have several firms that we have worked with that did not have a focused approach to their insurance program, and as a result the programs were disjointed. Multiple expiration dates led to an administrative burden at the firm as well as led to coverage gaps, higher premiums and overall inefficiencies in the products. We have been able to alleviate the administrative burden by consolidating the program effective dates, which also leads to utilization of leverage in the marketplace and more competitive pricing, terms and conditions, etc. By making the changes necessary in the structure of the program, we are then able to evaluate and identify gaps in coverage and exposures that were not being addressed effectively.
Share your "WOW" factor. I think our “wow” factor is when we deal with a client that is pleasantly surprised to find out how well we know their business. Much of the value that William Gallagher Associates beings to our clients is the ability to understand the unique risks that they face in the course of the business, then designing specialized insurance programs to meet their needs.