Berkley Select Expands Appetite Offering Coverage for Nonprofit Legal Aid Services

A judge's hand comforts a persons' hands that are folded over a contract

Berkley Select recently expanded our appetite for Nonprofit Legal Aid Service providers. We created an innovative solution that includes comprehensive coverage for organizations offering Legal Aid Services.

Learn more about this expansion and why it is a unique solution for policyholders to place their management and lawyers professional liability coverage all with Berkley Select.


Our Assistant Vice President of Lawyers Professional Liability (LPL), Ashley Fredricksen and Underwriting Manager, Nick Matsie have partnered together to discuss some of the highlights of this unique product.


Nick and Ashley, can you summarize briefly both of your roles at Berkley Select?

Nick: I have been with Berkley Select for nearly 10 years, all within the Executive Liability Solutions department. Currently, my main role is managing the Nonprofit team and their book of business, but I am also responsible for leading our cannabis Employment Practices Liability (EPL) program.

Ashley: I’m considered a “boomerang employee,” as I have come back to the company twice in my 15 years around the organization. I started with the company as an intern prior to being hired in the Nonprofit department. Currently, I serve as the Assistant Vice President over the Middle Market and Excess segments of our Lawyers Professional Liability (LPL) product.


What unique insurance risks do Nonprofit Legal Aid organizations face?

Nick: Nonprofit Legal Aid organizations, similar to all Nonprofit organizations, need to protect themselves from potential lawsuits and claims alleging mismanagement, negligence, or other breaches of fiduciary duty. The high cost to defend even meritless claims can impair an organization’s ability to continue providing services to the community in need. In addition, most individuals serving on a board require an organization to have a D&O policy in place to protect them, as they can be personally held liable for the mismanagement of an organization. By forgoing coverage, insureds could be putting themselves at a disadvantage for attracting top talent to run their organizations.

Similarly, the need for EPL is shared with any organization that has a workforce, but often Nonprofit organizations feel less exposed as they typically are staffed by a hybrid of employees and volunteers. However, even with employees not on the payroll in a Nonprofit organization, they are just as at risk for suits of wrongful termination, discrimination, harassment, or retaliation. These claims are on the rise in recent years and with social and economic inflation, even meritless claims can lead to defense bills in the high six figures. Legal Aid Organizations in particular should make sure they have an EPL policy that includes third-party coverage – this coverage extends the EPL coverage for matters brought by/against third parties. Given the majority of their operations involve working directly with the public, they are particularly exposed to third-party EPL claims.

Ashley: Just as Nonprofit Legal Aid organizations are subject to claims related to mismanagement and negligence in their day-to-day operations, organizations offering legal services to clients are exposed to claims of negligence and malpractice. Malpractice claims can be a burden for Nonprofit organizations, as both financial and human resources are directed away from providing client services to defending a potential lawsuit.


What makes this particular product offering unique to policyholders?

Nick: The product itself provides comprehensive coverage, which will give organizations the security needed to carry out their individual missions. The uniqueness is found in Berkley Select’s expanded appetite to write this class of business on both of our main product lines. We have a 30+ year history of providing D&O/EPL/LPL coverages to a variety of risks, and with our in-house expertise in both underwriting and claims, we are well positioned to provide creative coverage solutions to this space. The ability to place both their D&O/EPL and LPL with the same insurance provider makes the insurance process less cumbersome. The real value proposition is that Nonprofit Legal Aid organizations now have a reputable and established insurance provider seeking to carve out a space as a one-stop shop for their executive and professional liability needs.


Aside from the policy providing comprehensive protection. are there any additional value-added benefits to policyholders?

Ashley: In addition to the financial strength and stability offered by Berkley Select, additional risk management resources are available through access to Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP’s CLE courses, hotline, and dedicated risk management website for Berkley Select Insureds.

Nick: We have recently partnered with Zywave for pre-claim risk management where all of our EPL policyholders have access to a wide range of online resources as well as an HR Helpline to guide them through best practices for specific employment issues.


Looking ahead a year from now, what are your hopes/goals for this new appetite expansion?

Ashley: As there are few markets that will consider coverage for legal aid organizations, many of our brokers/agents have indicated they have not been able to place coverage for their nonprofit legal service clients, creating hardships for both the nonprofit and the insurance professional. Our hope with the expanded appetite to include Nonprofit Legal Aid organizations is to provide our brokers/agents with a comprehensive solution for all of their clients.

Nick: I am hopeful, that as both our product lines are making a concerted push to target this business, that we will be able to fill a gap in the market and as Ashley noted above, make a name for ourselves as a one-stop dedicated executive and professional lines market for Nonprofit Legal Aid organizations.


Being that today (August 17th) is a day to recognize Nonprofit businesses in general, do you have any favorite non-profit/charitable causes you support - either on a local or national level?

Ashley: In 2016, my husband was diagnosed with Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML), so we are supporters of the research and advancements made through the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Nick: My dad’s side of the family has a history of Pancreatic Cancer so I have always supported the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network.

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