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Bar switches carriers for its malpractice program

In a move which may help ease the malpractice insurance woes of thousands of California lawyers, the State Bar's Board of Governors approved a change in the underwriting carrier for its professional liability insurance program.

Arch Insurance Co. was selected as the State Bar's new carrier, and will replace Chicago Insurance Co., a member of the Fireman's Fund Interstate Insurance Group, as soon as regulatory filings are submitted and approved by the Department of Insurance.

Attorneys and law firms currently insured through the bar's malpractice insurance program by Chicago Insurance Co. need not take any action. Chicago will continue to accept applications from new insureds and will process existing policy renewals until the switch is finalized.

The new underwriter brings with it additional capacity to write policies in California, giving the bar's program the flexibility to insure more members. Chicago Insurance Co. informed the bar earlier this year that business restructuring initiatives would limit its ability to accommodate the program's continued growth. The number of insureds has grown rapidly since 2000.

Malpractice insurance premiums have soared in recent months and underwriters often have restricted special coverage. Arch will continue to offer innovative policies such as policies for part time practitioners and new admittees, as well as tail coverage for retirees.

California lawyers who buy their malpractice coverage through the State Bar also will receive additional new member benefits, such as free online legal research and a loss prevention telephone hotline. Arch will continue financial support for claims avoidance and risk management activities conducted by the State Bar.

Information about the bar's insurance program is available from the program administrator, Marsh Affinity Group Services, a service of Seabury and Smith at 800-343-0132.

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