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An Ounce of Prevention: Planning Ahead with Disability Insurance
Post on May 22nd, 2024

If you’re in private practice, you may have noticed new questions when you renewed your Ohio attorney registration last year. Amendments to Gov. Bar Rule VI, adopted in 2023, will be formally effective January 1, 2025. In part, these amendments require many attorneys to provide additional information to the Ohio Supreme Court at the time of biennial registration: 1) “whether the attorney has professional liability insurance on the date of registration;” and 2) “whether the attorney has a plan to manage the attorney’s work or caseload in the event the attorney becomes temporarily or permanently unable to do so.”

Comment [5] to Prof.Cond.R. 1.3 suggests that the duty of diligence may include succession planning that designates another lawyer to support clients in the event of death or disability. Increasingly, there is heightened professionalism attention on emergency management and succession planning for attorneys.

More than one in four of today’s 20-year-olds will become disabled before retirement, and perhaps surprisingly, most disability claims come from illnesses rather than accidents.  Disability insurance can be a vital component to an emergency management plan for solo and small firm attorneys. Disability insurance provides income if you are unable to work from a disability resulting from injury or illness. Disability insurance may replace between 60% and 85% of your income. For attorneys, income-replacement benefits from disability insurance can help prevent burdening a spouse or law partner with overhead costs like rent or mortgage payments, technology expenses, or other contractual obligations.

The two main types of Disability Insurance (DI) are Short-Term Disability Insurance (STDI) and Long-Term Disability Insurance (LTDI). STDI can provide for payments immediately following a serious illness or injury (ranging from three to 12 months), while LTDI maintains income replacement if your condition keeps you out of work past the end of your STDI benefit period, often to retirement (usually two-15 years).

Disability Insurance may also be of interest to attorneys who are the sole provider for the family, those who support minors, those with recurring injuries or illnesses and those who travel frequently or are frequently in court.

Professional and financial responsibilities do not stop when you become injured or ill. With proper planning, attorneys can meet these obligations, ensuring continuity of service for clients and funding for expenses. The OSBA Insurance Agency, OBLIC’s trusted agency partner, can help Ohio attorneys and their families navigate disability insurance options. Email or call Agent Danna Blackburn at 614-572-0627 for more information.

See also:

Business Succession Planning: Designating a Successor Attorney (Feb. 11, 2021)

Covering Short-term Absences (June 9, 2021)

PMBR FAQs (Ohio Disciplinary Counsel)

As always, your OBLIC Loss Prevention Team is here to help! Call our Complimentary Ethics Hotline with your practice management and professionalism questions at 1-800-227-4111 or call either Merisa or Gretchen at the direct numbers below.

Gretchen K. Mote, Esq.
Director of Loss Prevention
Ohio Bar Liability Insurance Co.
Direct:  614.572.0620
[email protected]
Merisa K. Bowers, Esq.
Loss Prevention Counsel
Ohio Bar Liability Insurance Co.
Direct:  614.859.2978
[email protected]


This information is made available solely for loss prevention purposes, which may include claim prevention techniques designed to minimize the likelihood of incurring a claim for legal malpractice. This information does not establish, report, or create the standard of care for attorneys. The material is not a complete analysis of the topic and should not be construed as providing legal advice. Please conduct your own appropriate legal research in this area. If you have questions about this email’s content and are an OBLIC policyholder, please contact us using the information above.