American Association of Insurance Management Consultants

The Special Relationship and the Insurance Producer

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The Special Relationship and the Insurance Producer

The special relationship doctrine can create an overwhelming burden for the unsuspecting insurance agent or broker by imposing a duty to provide advice to a policyholder concerning all possible coverages and in some instances a responsibility to give advice as to what limits to purchase and whether such limits are “adequate.” This article explores the nuances of the special relationship and provides a template for the producer, the policyholder and their respective attorneys to follow by illustrating the circumstances that give rise to the special relationship between the producer and the policyholder/insured.

Navigating the special relationship minefield is not an easy task, especially since actions the producer innocently perceives as being “value-added” may create a legal duty where none was contemplated. Knowing the elements of the special relationship will allow the producer to decide whether embracing it – as opposed to avoiding it – will enhance the producer’s connection with the client by using the special relationship to inspire a client to focus on aspects of the insurance procurement transaction that does not involve the bottom line. This article makes it clear that the special relationship is not premised on such relationship factors as longevity, social interaction, reliance for non-property and casualty advice or even providing unsolicited advice under most circumstances.

Stanley Lipshultz

Stanley L. Lipshultz, JD, CPCU