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From the Front Lines: Professional Liability

“We will see new trends as businesses continue to be creative to generate revenues,” says independent agent David Hanley, “which in itself will create new exposures resulting in new insurance products.”
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From the Front Lines: Professional LiabilityDavid J. Hanley


Professional Liability Insurance Services, Inc.

Austin, Texas

How did you get started? 

I formed Professional Liability Insurance Services, Inc. (PLIS) in 1983, initially working with lawyers in Texas to fill their primary professional liability insurance needs, as well as excess insurance for lawyers on a national level. PLIS was and is recognized as a tribunalized Lloyd's of London correspondent, which led to holding multiple non-marine binding authority agreements including employment practice liability, miscellaneous errors & omissions, farm & vineyard managers, operators and workplace violent acts for both first- and third-party coverage, as well as a first party product for trade name restoration and loss of business income for foodborne illness insurance.

Why professional liability? 

It was a hard market in the '80s for large law firms handling complex cases to secure sufficient insurance through the domestic market. It was an opportunity to help businesses identify their exposures and work hand in hand with the London market to secure coverage to protect their assets. Today, I am still inspired to maintain an understanding of exposures that businesses face daily related to employment practice liability and E&O in over 250 industries.

Biggest professional liability changes?

More specialization in coverages afforded to distribution channels. Businesses have seen an increase in requirements for contracts from their clients, including the agreement of maintaining specific coverages through E&O and employment practice liability, which businesses continually seek education on in terms of availability and coverage.

Biggest challenges?

Professional liability insurance is affected by the economy, social trends, regulation and the litigious nature of society. As these factors change, it results in changes in policy wording or breadth of coverage. This is exemplified with the current COVID-19 pandemic, which is directly impacting the economy and the industry. Also, we're facing a hard market which tends to lead to limited coverage availability. 

Future trends? 

The current market conditions—an increase of employees working from home and restaurants and retailers providing curbside pick-up—will have an impact. We will see new trends as businesses continue to be creative to generate revenues, which in itself will create new exposures resulting in new insurance products.

Advice for a fellow agent?

Document everything, don't lose sight of your client's needs, be aware of the insurance products available and don't be afraid to reach out to colleagues. Distribution channels ebb and flow over time, but insurance is a relationship-based business and it's important to network with underwriters and brokers to maintain the pulse of the market. 

Olivia Overman is IA content editor.

Monday, September 28, 2020
Professional Liability