ECBMLaw | Insurance for Lawyers and Law Firms





ECBM Law is a member of the ECBM Insurance Brokers and Consultants family. One of the largest family-owned and operated insurance brokerages in the country,  we have access to insurance carriers that most smaller independent insurance agents do not. Charlie Bernier, an attorney and principal Professional Liability Consultant, draws upon his experience defending insurance companies when advising clients on their businesses’ unique liability needs, and works with wholesalers and carriers to create insurance policies that provide the best coverage at the fairest price. Additionally, in the event of a claim, you can be confident know that our large on-site claims department goes to work for you free of charge, acting as your advocate to ensure your business is compensated to the fullest extent. That’s service you can’t find at large publicly-traded brokers.


Considered one of the top 100 largest privately owned insurance brokerages in the country, our office of 80+ employees located in Philadelphia’s immediate suburbs is family owned and operated, and has won multi-year awards for being one of Pennsylvania’s “Best Places to Work”.


Charlie Bernier, president of our Professional Liability Division, is an attorney who defended insurance carriers. This gives him unique insight into how claims are fought- and won- from the insurer’s perspective, as well as what coverages are the most appropriate given your firm’s unique needs.


At ECBM, we are one of the last remaining brokers who are consultants to you and your firm. We tailor your policy to your business’ unique needs because we believe insurance isn’t a one size fits all product, To learn more about our five step consulting process, click here.


At ECBM, we have access to virtually every professional liability carrier in the country. We have the ability to compare over 40 competing rates in order to get you the best coverage and rates available.


All of our clients are assigned to a team of on-site claims specialists who are dedicated to serving you. Each client is provided with access to our team through a single point of contact, so you’ll never have to worry about calling an impersonal call center or speaking with someone who isn’t educated on your situation.


Founded in 1970, we have over 40 years of proven experience providing exemplary service to our clients.


ECBM clients are presented with a coverage comparison chart for a straightforward view of how their policy stacks up against a typical policy brokered by ECBM. View a sample coverage comparison chart.  



ECBM  has developed a Claims Review Program to protect our clients from the financial impact of over-estimated loss reserves. Over a 3 year period, the experienced result is an overall reduction in your Experience Modification of 30%.


By partnering with ECBM, you have access to professionals all over the country. An answer to a problem you may have is just an email away with questions answered quickly, saving you time and resources.




All policies contain the standard professional/legal coverage consisting of insured performing services as a lawyer, arbitrator, mediator, title agent, notary public and fiduciary capacity.   However, does your policy contain coverage for attorney’s services as a director or officer of a non-profit organization, as an escrow agent or as a lobbyist?  If not your firm is taking on unnecessary risks that should be covered.

Furthermore, are any of the attorneys at your firm publishing or writing blogs, articles or papers?   This type of service can be added to the definition of professional coverage but most policies do not have it in their standard form.   Not having the broadest form of coverage leaves your firm open to paying claims that could have been covered with a proper review of not only your firms practice, but the actual activities of the attorneys.



If your defense costs are part of or “inside” your limit of liability, it means that each dollar spent on claim expenses- such as the cost of defending your malpractice claim- is one less dollar available to pay for damages. When these costs exhaust your available limit of liability, your carrier’s obligation to investigate, defend and cover your claim is terminated.   This means all payments for settlements or judgments and costs will come of your own pocket, resulting in a potentially devastating financial situation.


In a standard policy personal injury coverage will include libel, slander, violation of a right of privacy, false arrest, detention, imprisonment, wrongful entry, eviction, malicious prosecution or abuse of process.   It will not include personal injury that comes to the company as a result of insured’s advertising.   In the course of advertising a firm is at risk of causing personal injury through oral or written publication of material that disparages the goods or services of an individual or entity; uses another’s advertising ideas; or infringes on copyright, title, slogan, trademark or trade name.   When a law firm neglects to purchase this coverage any claim related to advertising and brought under the above will be paid for at the firm’s own expense.

If your firm is advertising at all you will need this coverage added and will need an experience insurance professional and attorney to work with an insurance carrier to confirm that your firm will not be on the hook for these damages.


Lawyers Professional Liability (LPL) policies are generally “claims-made” policies meaning that coverage under the policy is triggered by the act of reporting the claim. So whether there is coverage will depend first on whether the lawyer has a policy in effect on the date when the claim is reported to the carrier. Once that particular LPL policy ends there is no coverage under that policy for claims that were unknown to the insured or known but not reported in that policy year.

 What about claims arising from past legal services rendered (i.e., acts occurring before the policy effective date)? After all, very few professional negligence claims arise, are made known to the attorney, and then are reported to the carrier all in the same year. That is where prior acts coverage comes in. The Prior Acts Retroactive Date (PARD) contained in an LPL policy is the second date crucial to determining coverage (beyond the reporting date discussed above). Simply put, the PARD is the date back to which there is coverage for an attorney or a firm’s professional services under a policy of professional liability insurance — assuming the claim is otherwise covered.

 ECBM’s policy offers full prior acts coverage on all policies regardless of the carrier you were with before.  As long as you had prior coverage you will be covered by full prior acts coverage.  With each policy renewal, the prior acts coverage lengthens by a year. This will go on as long as the policy is continuously renewed and in this way a firm or attorney can build up coverage over the years with each new LPL policy.

As the prior acts coverage expands, so does the statistical likelihood that the attorney or firm will experience a claim. To account for the increased claim exposure, LPL premiums increase for a period of years reflecting the increase in years of prior acts coverage being offered under each new policy.   After a period of 5 years you should receiving no increases in premium due to your full prior acts.  If your premium is increasing or not decreasing to a satisfactory amount you need a broker to discuss this with a large group of carriers to get you a lower price while keeping your full prior acts coverage.


Most law firms are in possession of personally identifiable financial or medical information and can therefore be susceptible to violating HIPPA, the Gramm-Leach-Biley Act of 1999, state privacy protection laws and federal and state consumer credit reporting laws.   The kind of documentation these laws focus on are electronic or paper form information containing an individual’s name, social security number, driver’s license info, other security codes and medical and healthcare records.  Your firm needs coverage for violation of any of these state or federal laws and most common policies do not have it.

Please Note the only way to be fully covered for this type of act is purchase a Cyber Liability Policy.   To learn more about how Cyber Liability Coverage can protect your business please visit our sister site


All law firms could potentially experience a crisis event that will have a material adverse effect upon their reputation.   Crisis events can be a wrongful act; death departure or debilitating illness of a principal; potential dissolution; incident of workplace violence or really an event that will adversely affect the firm’s reputation.

Crisis event coverage takes care of the cost of consulting with a public relations firm in response to a crisis event.  Disastrous situations happen there is nothing you can fully do to prevent them, but you can minimize the damage they cause through professional liability insurance.



Claims happen and even frivolous ones need to be defended. When one of your attorneys attends trial the insurance company should be there to pay you for the time she missed.  A firm should expect to be reimbursed a loss of earnings of up to $500 for each day or part of a day of an attorney’s attendance at a trial, hearing or other alternative dispute resolution proceeding, including arbitration proceeding or mediation, involving a claim against the firm or attorney.  The limit on this should be $15,000 per claim and $30,000 total per policy period.

As with claims disciplinary actions can be brought against attorneys to, and although a finding of no liability against the attorney is usually the outcome these actions have to be defended as well.   The insurance company should be paying $20,000 per attorney to pay for attorney fees and other reasonable cost expenses or fees.   There should be a total of $100,000 allotted to pay these fees per policy period.

These are supplementary payments that are offered by the best carriers and if you do not have them I can help you get them as soon as possible to protect yourself and your attorneys.



The drive to expand and develop new practices in order to win new business is an inherent part of every law firm.   If merging your firm or closing your practice is part of your plan to reach these goals now or in the future then the optional reporting period is a very important part of your policy.  Your policy should contain optional extended reporting period increments of 1 year (100% of premium), 2 years (150% of premium), 3 years(175% of premium), 6 years (225% of premium)  and unlimited (250% of premium).   These extensions use the premium you are currently paying and can protect your firm for any claims that occurred after the prior acts retro date without your firm having to renew the policy.



A breach by a law firm or the firm’s service provider can result in a breach of the firm’s network security.  A breach of the firm’s network security can result in 1) theft, corruption or deletion of electronic data; 2) Unauthorized access to or unauthorized use of the firm’s computer system; 3) the denial of an authorized user’s access to the Company’s Computer System; 4) a Denial of Service Attack-where your firm’s computer system denies the access of third party client to their own computer system through a virus; 5) the transmission of malicious code from the firm’s computer system to a third party client’s computer system.

With the onset of the BYOD (“bring your own device”) culture, firms can reduce spending on mobile devices, and users have the freedom to use the device of their choice, but from a security standpoint it’s a nightmare.  Many of these devices have no law firm security software and leave firms vulnerable to the above breaches.

 Please Note the only way to be fully covered for this type of act is purchase a Cyber Liability Policy.   Please refer to the Cyber (Hyperlink) section for further information.



No one likes to think about death or disability happening to them.  Which is why as attorneys we have a hard time convincing people to execute a will.  However, just as a will is necessary so is death or disability extended reporting period.

 In the event of death the estate, heir, executors and administrators of such insured will receive extended reporting period free of charge.  If the insured becomes totally or permanently disabled the extended reporting period should be provided free of charge until the insured is no longer totally or permanently disabled.



Think your law firm doesn’t need cyber insurance? You may want to rethink after reading this.

Last week, a Russian broker targeted elite law firms in both Chicago and New York hoping to discover information about
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Think your law firm doesn’t need cyber insurance? You may want to rethink after reading this.

ECBM’s President Charlie Bernier speaks with Jeff Mack for City Biz List’s CEO Interview Series.

ECBM's President Charlie Bernier speaks with Jeff Mack for City Biz List's CEO interview series:   [embedyt][/embedyt]        
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ECBM’s President Charlie Bernier speaks with Jeff Mack for City Biz List’s CEO Interview Series.

An Interview With Charlie Bernier, ECBM’s President

ECBM's President Charlie Bernier discusses with Executive Leaders Radio host Herb Cohen how his family and upbringing influences his outlook,
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An Interview With Charlie Bernier, ECBM’s President

WebMD interviews Charlie Bernier

WebMD's sister site, MedScape, recently interviewed Charlie Bernier for an informational piece on why and how medical professionals should purchase
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WebMD interviews Charlie Bernier



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About Charlie Bernier, ESQ.

President, Professional Liability Division

Charlie Bernier is an attorney and principle professional liability consultant at ECBM Insurance Brokers and Consultants in Conshohocken, Pennsylvania.  He received his Bachelors Degree from from Pennsylvania State University and attended Widener University School of Law where he earned his J.D. Read More..