Volume 12, no. 4
Now that You’re Going Solo, What About Insurance?
By Robin Page West
Many lawyers have a nice “package” that they take totally for granted. Malpractice insurance, health insurance, sick leave, and possibly even disability and life insurance usually come along with the job. But once on your own, that package goes right out the window, leaving the new solo lawyer—as they say in the industry—“bare.”
What insurance will you need before you go solo? In addition to malpractice and health insurance, if you intend to have employees, you will need worker’s compensation and business owner’s insurance to cover your business for injuries to your employees and for any torts they commit while working for you, as well as to cover the business for liability for things such as accidental injuries to others while on your premises.
In order to keep the lights on if you were to become temporarily disabled, you should consider disability income or office overhead insurance. The former pays you a “salary” while you are disabled, whereas the latter pays your office overhead expenses such as rent and payroll.
Also worthy of consideration is long-term care insurance to cover all or part of the cost of your care at home or in a long-term care facility should you become unable to manage the activities of daily living. It is a common misconception that Medicare covers long-term care. The younger and healthier you are when you purchase long-term care coverage, the less expensive it will be. If you wait until you have a health problem to apply for coverage, your premiums may be unaffordable or you may be rejected.
Finally, if you have children and a spouse who are dependent on your income, do consider life insurance.
You may be able to find one independent insurance broker who can provide you with all these forms of coverage. Another place to look is trade associations or groups that you belong to, such as the ABA, (which sells insurance through the American Bar Endowment), as well as local bar associations, military associations, alumni associations, and any such groups to which your spouse belongs. In addition, if your spouse is employed, you may be able to obtain health insurance coverage through his/her employer.
Obtaining proper coverage at an affordable price requires time-consuming research, but doing this homework and obtaining coverage is not optional. A non-covered catastrophic injury or malpractice verdict could torpedo your earning power for life and wipe out your savings. Do your homework, get your insurance in place, and sleep like a baby at night.
Robin Page West, editor-in-chief of SOLO, is a shareholder in Cohan & West, P.C., in Baltimore, Maryland, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.