Brokers Not Classified as Professionals

March 26, 2001

A ruling by the New York Court of Appeals last week set breach of contract suits brought against insurance brokers to a six-year statute of limitations, because brokers are not professionals.

The ruling, handed down Thursday, overturns an appellate court decision last year that determined brokers were subject to the three-year statute of limitations applying to professional malpractice claims.

Last week’s reversal will allow the appellate, precision rotor manufacturer Chase Scientific Research, to pursue its breach of contract dispute with New Jersey-based insurance brokerage NIA Group Inc. Chase claims NIA was negligent and failed to secure sufficient coverage for the company.

Chase subsequently filed suit three years and seven months after NIA placed the coverage.

The Court of Appeals ruling acknowledged that “professional” has different meanings in different contexts, but in the context of malpractice cases it should be taken to mean professions that require “extensive specialized education and training,” and that are held to a certain standard of conduct for which discipline might be imposed.

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