Berkley Select Assistant Vice President Claims, Cynthia Carter, Discusses the Importance of EPL Insurance

Cynthia Carter

As Berkley Select's Claims Assistant Vice President, Cynthia Carter oversees the claims teams for both Professional and Management Liability lines of business. With a robust background in law spanning nearly 20 years, Cynthia talks to us about her career trajectory, how EPL claims are handled at Berkley Select, and the kinds of ongoing claims the team continues to see. Cynthia has appeared on a variety of panels as a guest speaker and claims subject matter expert.


"EPL Insurance is a must have in today's world. All businesses benefit from EPL Insurance. Claims cause a significant disruption in businesses - particularly small businesses. In addition to being potentially very expensive, litigation is a drain on the time and resources of everyone involved in the company."


Cynthia, congratulations on your recent promotion to Assistant Vice President at Berkley Select. Can you tell us more about your background and how you became involved in claims?

After graduating law school, I joined a private law practice firm where I represented domestic and international insurers in high-exposure medical malpractice and other professional liability claims. I didn’t go to law school thinking that I would end up in an insurance company. Like many other insurance professionals, I discovered that working for an insurance carrier could give me a fulfilling and challenging career while continuing to use my law degree. I joined Berkley Select eight years ago and was initially responsible for managing claims of malpractice against some of the largest law firms in the world. I currently manage a team of claim professionals who specialize in lawyer professional liability, director and officer, and employment practices liability claims.


Focusing more on Employment Practices Liability (EPL) Law at this point, what are some of the claim trends the industry saw this past year?

Frequency in EPL claims remains high, and costs keep increasing. Wage and Hour violation claims, and state-specific laws like California’s ADA changes are impacting claim trends. Also, claims for retaliation are the “new normal.” Many employment claims routinely include this cause of action.


Knowing that every claim has a different outcome, is there a common pattern?

Plaintiffs and their counsel have become increasingly aggressive and the costs to defend claims is increasing. Economic inflation has caused an increase in the fees that law firms charge to defend claims, and social inflation is driving an increase in the recoveries that plaintiffs believe that they are entitled to. Societal and generational changes also impact the costs and outcomes of these types of claims. Employers of all sizes, regardless of industry, are faced with a challenging and ever-changing environment.


Since you and your team see so many employment claims, can you offer some advice to employers?

EPL insurance is a must-have in today’s world. Also, remember:

1) Up-to-date employee handbooks are crucial.

2) Harassment training is not optional. It is mandatory.

3) Make sure that your company’s documentation of any performance or attendance issues is detailed and complete, as well as communicated to the employee.

4) If you’re facing a potential issue, contact your insurance carrier immediately and take advantage of any pre-loss counseling or legal assistance that they may offer.


What type of businesses benefit from EPL Insurance?

All businesses benefit from EPL insurance. Claims cause a significant disruption to businesses – particularly small businesses. In addition to being potentially very expensive, litigation is a drain on the time and resources of everyone involved at the company. Berkley Select works closely with a dedicated panel of EPL defense experts around the country who step in immediately and ease that burden. We work as a team to get the matter resolved quickly, efficiently, and for the lowest possible outcome.


What are some of your predictions/outlooks for EPL claims for the remainder of 2024?

I do not see EPL claims slowing any time soon. Economic downturns drive EPL claim activity. Plaintiff attorneys are more aggressive in their advertising and solicitation of clients. Enormous EPL verdicts are heavily touted in the media. The laws in certain states – like California – are employee friendly, making it very difficult for employers to avoid claims, and to defend them. The Berkley Select claim professionals are highly experienced in helping insureds maneuver through these complex claims so that our insureds can get back to running their businesses.


When you are not settling claims and leading your team, how do you like to enjoy your free time?

I love to read and travel whenever I get the chance! I also enjoy spending time with my husband, my three daughters, and my dog Olive.

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