Miscellaneous Professional Liability – What It Is and Why It May Be Right For You

Miscellaneous Professional Liability (MPL) is a catch phrase in the insurance industry for a single, pliable product capable of contorting to the needs of a wide variety of professionals seeking coverage.  Because of its unique nature, MPL has come to mean different things to different people over the years.  First offered in the 1970s, Miscellaneous Professional Liability was originally designed to cover any type of profession conceivable.  The boundaries would be that of the comfort level of the underwriter, and the existence of other products available, which would obviate the need for such coverage, i.e., accountant’s professional liability for accountants, etc.  In lieu of such other coverage, if the underwriter could mold a policy for the exposure and decide on a premium, coverage would be offered.

This model still exists today, however the times are changing.  What is written on a MPL policy form and the degree of specialization has radically altered the landscape of the MPL world, as have the needs of the clientele who purchase such policies.  In the past, MPL was the form of choice for those in professions that were either too small in number to attract large scale insurer interest, or too collectively unaware of the availability and need for coverage.  For example, while real estate agents today can still purchase MPL coverage on an MPL form, most Realtors, either individually or through their agencies, purchase specially designed Real Estate Agents Professional Liability.  This has prompted numerous specialists to develop specific forms for Realtors with more bells and whistles than an MPL policy will typically offer, and at pricing that is sometimes a bit more attractive than a standardized MPL policy can offer.

Similar evolutionary trends are occurring or have occurred elsewhere in the MPL arena.  Once, a computer programmer could only find coverage, if lucky, on an MPL form with “Electronic Data Processors” endorsements added on to tailor the coverage accordingly.  Nowadays, with the boom in technology (notwithstanding recent turbulence to the contrary), MPL coverage for technology professionals has morphed into highly specialized forms with titles such as “Computer & Technology Products & Services Professional Liability Insurance” and can sometimes be incorporated into other coverages such as a Business Owners Policy.

While the natural trend, as industry segments increase in size, is to break off from the MPL mainstream and offer specialty coverages, the traditional standby MPL policy works just fine for most professions.  Surprisingly, the MPL generalist may be able to offer a better price or coverage than the specialist for some classes of business.  Ask your agent to secure at least two quotes if available and don’t be fooled by the marketing and glitz.  Often the bells and whistles are offered because there is little value to them and/or the coverage exists elsewhere already.  Using your industry knowledge and your agent’s insurance expertise, you should be able to determine which quotes and coverages are the most appropriate for you.

Although the definition of which exposures fit into the MPL model differs from company to company, and MPL Underwriters truly love the challenge of underwriting new or unusual types of Miscellaneous Professional Liability exposures (example: Fire Ladder Inspector), there is a great deal of overlap.  Following are some of the classes that a typical MPL Underwriter may look at, in no particular order:

·        Talent Agents

·        Publishers

·        Business Brokers

·        Funeral Directors

·        Mortgage Brokers

·        Third Party Administrators

·        Employee Benefit Administrators

·        Public Adjusters

·        Computer Consultants

·        Marketing Consultants

·        Management Consultants

·        Broadcasters/Film Producers

·        Barbers & Beauticians

·        Actuaries Association Management Firms

·        Home Inspectors

·        Land Surveyors

·        Public Relations Firms

·        Advertising Agencies

·        Trustees

·        Title Agents

·        Title Abstractors

·        Escrow Agents

·        Real Estate Agents

·        Travel Agents/Tour Operators

·        Freight Forwarders/Customs House Brokers

·        Printers

·        Notaries

·        Staffing/Employee Leasing Firms

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