LAWPRO STATEMENT ON COVID-19
[Updated May 15, 2020]
LAWPRO wants to reassure Ontario lawyers and its other stakeholders that we continue to operate. While calls to our customer service department have slowed down, new claim reports continue to come in at pre-crisis numbers – ten to fifteen each and every day. We have activated our business continuity plan and we are doing the best we can to provide uninterrupted service during these difficult times.
From the calls and emails we are receiving we know that COVID-19 is taking a toll on you. Like LAWPRO has done, most law firms have temporarily shut their doors and transferred to a working from home status. With courthouses closed and clients unable to meet face-to-face, a large number of you have had to change the way you practise. Due to practice changes and family or personal demands we know some lawyers have decided to temporarily stop working. These are challenging times for many.
LAWPRO’S COMMITMENT TO ITS INSUREDS AND PAYMENT DEFERRAL
To help at this time:
— LAWPRO is continuing to respond to new and existing claims, customer service inquiries and LAWPRO-related filings with professionalism, integrity and the highest possible level of service we can offer. Please be patient as we might be a bit slower dealing with some requests. For general customer service enquiries, emails to [email protected] are preferred over phone calls.
— While lawyers are still expected to carry out their usual LAWPRO filings and payments, we recognize this may be difficult for many. Accordingly, LAWPRO will not be sending notices or following up on the collection of any delinquent accounts or missed filings (e.g., quarterly real estate and litigation transaction filings, unpaid premiums, or deductibles) at this time. If you want to stop automatic monthly or quarterly billing (credit card or EFT) until July 1, 2020, please notify us at [email protected]. Allow at least 10 business days for this to take effect. After the deferral period has ended, payments will recommence as scheduled, with premiums adjusted on a pro rata basis. We will notify you if a deductible is triggered, but please contact us at [email protected] if you need to defer that payment up until June 1, 2020. As usual, we will continue to let you know if the credit card we have on file expires.
— If you will not be practising at all on a temporary basis, for personal, medical or other reasons, for a minimum of thirty days, we strongly recommend that you look at applying for exemption from payment of premiums to stop these amounts accumulating.
— Look for more practice related help and support from AvoidAClaim.com and practicePRO.ca over the next several weeks.
REMOTE COMMISSIONING AND VERIFICATION OF CLIENT IDENTITY
LAWPRO will consider any remote commissioning and verification of identity done as part of a broader legal retainer to be covered professional services, in keeping with the Law Society of Ontario’s temporary rule relaxations in that regard.
COMMON REAL ESTATE TRANSACTION QUESTIONS
See our TitlePLUS newsletter for more information on the common questions we are seeing with respect to real estate transactions.
LAWPRO’S COMMITMENT TO ITS EMPLOYEES
To ensure the safety of our employees, they are working remotely at this time. As much as LAWPRO would like this to be a seamless transition, it does mean some changes have been put into action:
— Calls to specific employees will generally result in a message having to be left, with the employee phoning back at a later time. For this reason, we recommend the increased use of emails (if possible) to contact specific employees.
— Travel restrictions have been implemented, and the ability of our staff to present in person at continuing legal education events has been curtailed. We have always done virtual presentations and we are using them more frequently now. If you are interested in having us present a claims prevention session remotely, please email [email protected].
WE’RE STILL HERE
We have started to assess and consider the longer term impact of COVID-19 on LAWPRO. The market decline has reduced the value of our investment portfolios, which directly impacts the reserves we hold to pay claims. We expect a change in the types of malpractice claims that we will see. Typically, a business downturn results in an increase in the count and cost of claims. As part of the work we do to meet our regulatory requirements, we plan for this type of scenario and we are confident we can weather this storm.
If you have any questions, LAWPRO is here to help. Please contact us at [email protected] to let us know what we can do to assist you; or to report a new claim, please fill out an online notice report.
The members of the LAWPRO team offer our thoughts for the health and safety of you and your family at this challenging time,
President & CEO