Lawyers are busy. We’ve got briefs to write, hearings to attend, depositions to prepare for, and trials to worry about. There are 24 hours in a day and 7 days in a week and somehow still not enough time to get it all done. Our plates are so full of tasks and deadlines and meetings that one extra thing can often feel like the last straw to set everything back. ALPS claims attorneys have all been there and we know that when a malpractice claim or a potential claim rears its ugly head, it can feel like that last straw and doesn’t always rise to the top of your priority list. We usually see attorneys who do the right thing when there is a claim made or when they discover facts or circumstances that could potentially lead to a claim – they promptly send in their written notice to ALPS like the policy requires. They identify the claimant and usually write up a brief overview of the underlying case and send it off. Then they check the “report claim to ALPS” box off on their to-do list and go back to the very important motion they need to get filed for another case before the deadline. But the next steps are crucial for us in claims.
After promptly reporting a claim, we occasionally have insureds who then put the claim or potential claim on the backburner. Of course, the policy requires that insureds cooperate with ALPS in the handling of the claim, but, particularly at the outset of a new claim, good communication with us is critical and can really help your claims attorney do what we need to do to assess the claims and begin our work toward getting the claim resolved. Cooperation between ALPS and our insureds begins with our initial efforts to talk to you on the phone about the case. Unfortunately, when we make our initial call to an insured after reporting their claim, we are sometimes directed instead to talk with the receptionist, the office manager, a paralegal/legal assistant, or some other designated spokesman for the firm. We are often also directed to voicemail but then after leaving a message we don’t hear back right away. We will send an email or letter requesting additional information and a return call. All these additional steps can lead to delay in our ability to assess and handle the claim and can really set back our ability move a claim forward, especially at the beginning which sometimes presents our best opportunity to get a claim resolved early.
Here are a few things you can do to help your claims attorney get the case moving forward right out of the gate:
- Provide a direct-dial or cell phone number for the specific attorney involved in the underlying case. We will certainly talk with the office manager or managing partner, but having a conversation about the claim with the attorney who handled the underlying matter right away is key;
- Be sure to let your reception staff know that an ALPS claims attorney will be calling and to expect the call. To go further, we would recommend you take steps so your receptionist can forward our call to your cell phone or home phone if you are not in the office.
- Promptly return our call after we have left voice messages. Days or weeks can be critical, particularly when there is a demand made by a claimant or a deadline to respond to a pleading.
- Respond to our emails as soon as possible, especially when our email includes a request for additional information or your files. Again, it is best if the attorney who knows the most about the case sends a written overview via email along with a copy of the relevant files.
- Even after the claim has been reported and we have had our initial interview with you, feel free to check in with us on the phone or via email to see what progress has been made. Your ALPS claims attorney will be keeping you posted as often as possible but your continued involvement and investment in the process from the outset can help to move the claim along more quickly to conclusion.
ALPS claims attorneys know you have other pressing matters and a claim is an easy thing to push to the side after initial reporting. Clear and prompt follow-up communications and your active involvement help us to get the claim resolved more quickly so you can get back to the other pressing priorities in your practice.