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Chubb Insurance responds to denial of coverage for blogs

I emailed the PR folks at Chubb Insurance the end of last week asking them to respond to Chubb’s denial of malpractice coverage for law firms publishing blogs.

I received a press release just now from Jodi Dorman, Chubb’s Public Relations Specialist, with their response (download press release). Though Chubb did not issue this release because of my email, Chubb’s willingness to respond to news coverage on this issue, most of which coverage was from lawyers on the blogosphere, should be lauded.

Key is that the insurance company, which insures 90% of the law firms listed in The American Lawyer’s AM Law 200, will insure blogs. From James L. Rhyner, worldwide lawyers professional manager for Chubb Specialty Insurance:

As a leading insurer of law firms across the country, we make it a priority to be on top of emerging trends that affect law firms. Today, more and more law firms are establishing blogs. Chubb does insure this new form of communication—and will continue to do so within select parameters.

A remaining concern is Chubb’s apparent unwillingness to insure blogs that could be ‘advisory blogs.’

Chubb has found that law firm blogs fall into two general classes: informational and advisory.

  • An informational blog presents information or offers a forum for discussing issues in a neutral, unbiased way. This type of blog offers information similar to that found in an article or presented by an individual in a seminar—informational blogs do not provide advice to a specific individual on a unique matter. Typically, these blogs pose a minimal level of risk from Chubb’s underwriting perspective.
  • In an advisory blog, however, a law firm offers advice. By its nature, then, it increases the risk of a malpractice lawsuit against the firm. An advisory blog can potentially establish an attorney-client relationship, possibly bypassing such safeguards as determining the suitability of a potential client and checking for possible conflicts of interest. As always, Chubb’s underwriters will evaluate each submission on its own merits.

In that Chubb desires to work with law firms, perhaps in particular the AmLaw 200, which are taking to blogs in a big way, I have asked Jodi Dorman:

  • How will Chubb be evaluating blogs as to whether they are informational or advisory, especially when there is no track record when the blogs start?
  • Will Chubb be establishing guidelines?
  • Does Chubb see a law firm’s possible need to clear their blog with Chubb as ‘non-advisory’ as chilling law firms from starting blogs?

Interested in hearing Chubb’s response and how other lawyers view Chubb’s response today.

Related posts: Chubb Insurance refuses to cover law firm with blogs Lawyers respond to Chubb Insurance’s position on law firm blogs Technorati Tags:

  • http://blog.bretttrout.com Brett Trout

    I think Chubb is doing the right thing. Lawyers should not be offering advice on their blog (even if they do it on a blogger blawg ; ).
    I appreciate the concern over chilling bloggers, but seasoned bloggers know the difference between information and advice. If Chubb ever tried to stretch the definitions to deny coverage, there would be a blogger backlash of epic proportions. Chubb is too smart for that; I would not worry.

  • http://www.insurancecoverageblog.com David Rossmiller

    “Advisory blogs?” What’s that, a Dear Abby type of thing? What lawyer in his or her right mind is going to give it away for free on the internet? What’s that lawyer’s motto: “All the risk, none of the profit”? I’d like to know how many of these are supposedly out there, I’ve not run into any. Saying they are not going to insure advisory blogs is like saying they are not going to insure snowmobiles in Mississippi.

  • http://www.susancartierliebel.typepad.com Susan Cartier Liebel

    I find their response extremely interesting. I have never heard of an ‘advisory blog.’ What it seems to me is that Chubb is creating their own definition of the blog they fear versus the reality of what a blog is. Any practice-area based blog is informational and I have yet to see a blog which advises unknown clients. There are blogs which can have a forum component providing give and take with the author but I have yet to see an author give ‘advice’ that establishes an attorney client relationship. But my best guess is the all important language in their letter which gives them the opportunity to review each blog on a case-by-case basis to determine insurability…it also allows them to determine where it falls on their pendulum of risk, minimal to maximal, and as to whether or not the blog author is complying with the current Rules governing advertising within their state with the disputed disclaimers and the current cases pending against this requirement, such as in New York. If attorneys are victorious in New York, can the insurance companies go in the back door and dictate compliance based upon their criteria or withhold insurance? Imagine the insurance companies dictating where and how big your disclaimer must be positioned on your blog? Quite frankly, it is the worst kind of fabrication and manipulation and attack against free speech in the name of ‘risk’ I have ever seen. And then take it a step further. You rebel, drop your insurance, but wait…you are in an state that requires malpractice insurance? What next…who you are permitted to take on as a client?

  • http://www.rushonbusiness.com Rush Nigut

    Chubb is trying to save face. The company realizes it made a mistake with its blanket denial and the press release is a way to say, “We really didn’t mean we wouldn’t cover law firms that have blogs . . . you must have misunderstood us.”

  • http://www.newyorkpersonalinjuryattorneyblog.com/ Eric @ New York Personal Injury Law blog

    Chubb’s attempt to put blogs into categories is foolish and unworkable. I’ve responded at some length here: Chubb Insurance Trips Over Self In Trying To Regulate Law Blogs

    Thanks Kevin, for the head’s up.

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    Thanks for very interesting article. btw. I really enjoyed reading all of your posts. It’s interesting to read ideas, and observations from someone else’s point of view

  • http://www.insurancevan.net Car And Van Insurance

    I find their response extremely interesting. I have never heard of an ‘advisory blog.’ What it seems to me is that Chubb is creating their own definition of the blog they fear versus the reality of what a blog is.