Even beyond renewals, there is always something going on with claims and administrative requirements. So how does a legal administrator stand a chance of beating this barrage of insurance responsibilities? Use these seven tips to win against the wave of insurance work:
1. Lead the committee of two. The most effective insurance committee is made up of one lead administrator and one other partner (managing partner or administrative partner). These two people need to have a big picture of what goes on the firm on a business level, as well as the pulse of the employees to better manage the employee benefit program. Many firms stack the committee too large or put a partner as the lead. The most efficient committee is two — with you as its leader.
2. Change your renewal dates. If your large key renewals always come at a bad time for your firm financial calendar, change the renewal dates. There isn’t always a simple or quick solution to get this done, but with enough planning with your broker, you can change most of these dates to a more convenient time for your calendar flow.
3. Learn from others. As unique as you think your law firm is (just ask your firm partners), law firms have very similar risks and insurance needs. And while it’s true that every firm is different in the details of their practice and in their view of retaining risk (think deductibles and limits), the basic mechanics of evaluating what insurance you need at your firm is similar across all firms. Learn from other firms and other experts. ALA chapter programs can be great for best practice-sharing from your peers. Conferences allow a more formal idea exchange from peers and experts. We will be providing a full session at the upcoming ALA Annual Conference of best insurance practices: “Everything You Need to Know in 60 Minutes about Insurance.”
4. Prioritize the complex critical from the transactional. Not all insurance policies need to be critically negotiated every single year. Where you have standard policies like excess professional liability insurance, dental insurance, ERISA bonds or any kind of state-mandated coverage, there are no differences in the coverage, so price shopping can be simplified. Even in the complex coverage items like long-term disability, if your policy language is consistent, transactional shopping can be done.
5. Do the up-front renewal work. Your two most consequential and expensive renewals are the health insurance and the professional liability insurance. For both of these policies, it is well worth the time to schedule a “strategy-only meeting” with your brokers three to four months before the renewal date. The time you spend planning will save many hours later of chasing and developing bad ideas.
6. Plan the end of the renewal process. Before each renewal, have a deadline meeting scheduled. Last-minute insurance meetings lead to bad decisions because you feel like you have no choice but to proceed. Schedule these meetings in advance for the best outcomes.
7. Health Insurance 2.0. Anticipate a big increase in your time to handle this year’s renewal. The past two years have been disruptive in the health insurance world. While there is no legal change in sight (as of this writing), costs and solutions continue to appear. New technology in the health data analytics world is becoming user-friendly and less expensive for even mid-size law firms. Budget extra time to fully explore these options.
Law firm leaders will always have a lot on their plate. By definition, running the show means running the show. The challenge with insurance is that many of the processes are multi-month projects that recur every year.
If you can institutionalize these tips in your firm, your insurance responsibilities will be a little bit more manageable.