FAIRNESS FOR PROFESSIONALS
PROTECTION FOR CONSUMERS
OP-ED: Insurance Bill Would Be Fairer to Professionals, Protect Consumers, NJ Spotlight
Robert B. Hille | December 11, 2017
New Jersey has the highest number of malpractice claims in the region and exceeds the national average, due to the lengthy statute of limitations. Read more.
Thousands of licensed professionals help New Jersey residents resolve problems every day, whether they are turning to a CPA, lawyer, dentist or engineer. These professionals are a huge part of their communities and drivers of the state's economy.
But they often struggle to meet overhead expenses -- one of the most costly, but important, is professional liability insurance. Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto introduced A480/S2264 which would provide critical stability and predictability to professional malpractice cases, protect consumers and put all professionals on a level playing field.
Read A480 here. Read S2264 here. Read the Coalition letter What it means for attorneys More resources
WHAT DOES A480/S2264 DO?
The time is now for fairness in professional malpractice, which would give a critical boost to New Jersey's small business and preserve important protections for consumers.
- Provide stability to the cost of doing business;
- Reduce the statute of limitations to bring a malpractice claim against a professional to two years -- similar to what it is for doctors and what it is for professionals in New York and Pennsylvania;
- Give consumers two years from the date they reasonably discover a problem to file a malpractice claim;
- Make New Jersey a more competitive place to do business for insurance companies;
- Eliminate fee shifting in legal malpractice claims; and
- Protect citizens by making professional liability insurance more accessible and more affordable to professionals.
A CHORUS CALLING FOR CHANGE
A growing chorus of professional organizations, including those representing thousands of dentists, opticians, landscape architects, electrical contractors and CPAs, have joined their voices in support.
Every county bar association in New Jersey -- from Atlantic County to Warren County -- believes adopting this measure is the right thing to do for licensed professionals and consumers.
Insurance companies and associations and civil justice organizations also back professional malpractice reform to help make New Jersey more competitive.
For more information on the bill or to join our coalition, please contact Lisa Chapland, Director of Government Affairs, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click here to read the Coalition of Licensed Professional's letter
View the list of professional groups that support A480/S2264 here.
View the list of bar associations that support A480/S2264 here.
View the list of insurers and other organizations that support A480/S2264 here.
WHAT IT MEANS FOR ATTORNEYS
The status quo is not viable.
Of approximately 25 insurance companies the state Department of Banking and Insurance authorizes to write legal malpractice coverage, just five are actually writing and renewing policies.
The base rate for a New Jersey lawyer to get coverage starts at 49 percent higher than in New York and 33 percent higher than in Pennsylvania.
Because of the overly long statute of limitations, New Jersey has the highest number of claims in the region and exceeds the national average.
Even more, the average claim cost per attorney in New Jersey is double that of Pennsylvania attorneys and 50 percent higher than what New York attorneys experience.
Meanwhile, New Jersey has fewer private practice attorneys than either of those neighboring states.
So what is making the New Jersey insurance market so restrictive? Two things: a statute of limitations for professional malpractice claims that is longer than the neighboring states and fee shifting.
The result is a restrictive insurance market and higher malpractice insurance rates for lawyers -- most of whom work in solo or small firms that form the backbone of their communities and fuel local economies.
A480/S2264 would bring the statute of limitations in-line with neighboring states and eliminate fee shifting in professional malpractice matters, which would make the New Jersey insurance market place more attractive and would protect consumers. This will provide accessible and affordable coverage to those small business owners who need it most.
Click here to read the key findings of a New Jersey State Bar Association Report from the Working Group on Professional Malpractice.
Check out legal malpractice data highlights New Jersey's outlier status here
Learn more about the New Jersey small business community here
Read statements from small business owners on the hardships they face due to New Jersey's restrictive insurance market here.
Get our Professional Malpractice Fairness flyer here.
Read "Professional malpractice stability needed: New Jersey attorneys share their experiences" here