Balancing Duties – The Role of the Mandated Insurer

Posted on December 20, 2017

By Tim Clarke – General Claims Counsel

I have spent most of my 25 years as a lawyer working for or with professional liability insurance programs mandated by self-regulated professions.  The roles of the regulator and insurer are quite distinct but should be complimentary.

The regulatory authority has a duty to administer the profession in the public interest.  As part of that role, the professional regulator will not only set down ethical standards and discipline process but will, frequently, require its practicing members to carry insurance from a designated or captive professional liability (malpractice) insurer.  The policy reasoning behind the requirement of insurance is to ensure that members of the public who suffer economic loss because of an error or omission by a professional will be compensated.

Designating a compulsory or captive insurer also ensures that all members of the profession have uniform malpractice insurance coverage.  Including all members of a profession in a single program increases the risk pool for insurers which allows all professionals access to affordable coverage.  Having a single insurer also ensures that claims made are handled consistently.

At law, insurers and insureds owe each other a duty of the utmost good faith.  The regulator’s first duty is to the public but the insurer’s first duty is to the insured professional.  These duties do not have to be mutually exclusive. As claims managers, by dealing with claims on a principled basis, we help the regulator fulfill its public protection imperative. Justifiable claims by clients who have suffered harm at the hands of a professional should be paid as efficiently and expeditiously as possible. An insurer is not a protective association, “stonewalling” legitimate claimants is not its function. Equally, an insurer should not be capricious in how it extends coverage. In my view, a compulsory insurer’s job is to look for not to deny coverage.

None of this is to say that a compulsory insurer should compromise the defence of an insured for the sake of expedience. Not all claims are created equal.  A professional’s reputation is possibly their most important asset.  We see a great many unmeritorious claims against our insureds and take an assault on a professional’s reputation very seriously. While there are many lawyers in Ontario, the insurance litigation bar is relatively small.  We see the same plaintiff’s counsel again and again.  While we strive to resolve meritorious claims as quickly as possible, we do try to send the message that there is no profit to be had in bringing a groundless law suit against one of our insureds. Where an unmeritorious claim is made against a professional, the professional should be able to expect the insurer to stand up for them.

Brokers gonna broke – congrats Meagan!

Posted on December 6, 2017

Meagan Phillips joined us in late March of 2013 as an underwriting administrator utilizing her law clerk degree in reviewing and processing documents both in the claims and underwriting areas. Her passion for underwriting became clear as she started to move through her CIP designation, which is almost complete, and just recently Meagan put another stake in the ground by obtaining her broker’s license after a very intense but thorough 2 week prep course. Congratulations Meagan!

The Axxima team has been growing in 2017!

Posted on November 13, 2017

Three new faces have joined us this year. Each adding their own energy to the Axxima family.

Richard McGee
Role: Insurance Specialist
Home base: Toronto
Joined: January 2017

Richard has experience in underwriting, broking, and risk management all in a past life at places like Aviva, Marsh, and JLT. He has been putting his well-honed craft to good use at Axxima over the past 9 months. Clients know him best for his extensive suit collection and passion for anything sports related.

Nick Mahdavi, LLB
Role: Consultant/Claims Counsel
Home base: Toronto
Joined: September 2017

Nick joined us full-time as a Consultant and Claims Counsel. Nick has been with us for almost a year filling in a maternity leave position and he joins Axxima’s well-seasoned and talented group of lawyers and claim professionals. To Nick’s credit he is dying to learn about the brokerage side of our business.

Jean-François St-Pierre
Role: Actuarial Analyst
Home base: Longueuil
Joined: September 2017

Jean-Francois joined us as part of our actuarial team. Having just graduated this past May from Laval University, he is getting put through his paces by our FCAS crew while working on his actuarial designation. His energy and enthusiasm for the work is helping him fit right in.

5 Questions Boards Should Ask Their Actuary

Posted on September 11, 2017

What questions should you ask your actuary?

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Over the last 20 years, I’ve presented the results of various actuarial analyses to client Boards hundreds of times. Sometimes I get asked great questions, but mostly, I don’t.

I understand why, though. The actuarial presentation is rarely the sole focus of a Board meeting, and the Board is usually moving quickly through a busy agenda with financial results, governance issues, new initiatives, marketing, etc.

I also understand that some Board members are less comfortable than others with the numbers and financial-centric presentations. The actuarial concepts and terminology can be overwhelming, and some Board members are bound to feel uncomfortable asking questions for fear of showing a lack of understanding. It is certainly not their fault – Board education on actuarial topics is not easy to find, and often Board members will be limited to one or two opportunities annually to have any actuarial discussion.

To encourage actuarial discussion at the Board level and highlight the value that the actuary can provide, I came up with a list of questions for Boards to ask their actuary.

Axxima at the 2016 NABRICO Conference

Posted on July 14, 2016

Nabrico-2016-logo-200.fwAxxima CEO, Patrick Mahoney, will be a panel member for the Fast Forward: Part 2 – The Insurance Marketplace session at this year’s NABRICO conference in Vancouver. In his session, Patrick and his four fellow panel members will “crystal-ball [the legal profession’s] insurance future. First, they’ll share their views on the insurance implications of this transformed legal world. Their discussion will then move to trends in the insurance market, and the anticipated impact on LPL lines.”

Find out more about the session, the panel members, and the NABRICO conference at

Go, Ryan!

Posted on April 13, 2016

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Axxima is excited to see our CIO, Ryan Durrell, featured on Trent University’s Daily News blog!

An alumni of the University, Ryan shares his success story and words of wisdom HERE.

Congratulations, Pascal!

Posted on March 11, 2016

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Axxima is very proud to announce that our very own Pascal Boucher recently became a Fellow of the Casualty Actuarial Society.

Pascal has been a valuable part of Axxima as an actuarial analyst since the company’s inception. He always brings his hard work, skill, and positive attitude to the various insurance projects he works on, including actuarial reserving, statistical analysis, and stochastic modelling. Pascal has now turned things up to 11 by obtaining his FCAS designation.

The Casual Actuarial Society boasts 7,000 members who are experts in property and casualty insurance, reinsurance, finance, risk management and enterprise risk management.

Congratulations, Pascal, from all of us at Axxima!

Celebrating Our First Anniversary

Posted on September 18, 2014

Axxima Turns OneWe are pleased to announce that Axxima celebrates its first anniversary on September 18, 2014. The past 12 months have been full of hard work and laughter, and have been unbelievably satisfying. We are truly home.

We would like to thank our fantastic clients, our hard-working business partners and our ever-supportive families for believing in us and for helping to make us a success. We would also like to thank our colleagues at Axxima, the best group we could hope to work with.

The first year was fun. But we are just getting started.

~ Patrick Mahoney, on behalf of the Board