Since 1996, Attorney Picardi has been providing national hotline services for accounting professional liability programs. The hotline has been an effective loss control tool for accounting firms and their carriers. It is designed to help accounting firms avoid claims and defend those they cannot avoid.
Confidentiality is at the foundation of this service. All communications on the hotline can be as anonymous as the accounting firm wishes. And we do not disclose the identity of the accounting firm to its carrier or any other third party without appropriate authorization. The intent is for these hotline communications to be privileged. These features encourage accounting firms to seek early intervention for troublesome issues by eliminating any fear that the inquiry will be discoverable or give rise to adverse underwriting consequences.
For a fixed monthly fee paid by the carrier, accounting firms from any state may contact us by telephone or email to discuss a wide range of topics concerning the intersection of law and accounting. If we are unable to answer a call or respond immediately, our policy is to respond within one business day.
Common topics of discussion on the hotline include:
- Structuring accounting firms to manage risk;
- Drafting effective engagement letters;
- Avoiding and managing conflicts of interest;
- The impact of recent changes in the law;
- Responding to subpoenas and other matters bearing on confidentiality;
- Suspension of services and disengagement;
- Fee collection strategies;
- File retention;
- Managing liability exposure to third parties;
- Alternative dispute resolution;
- Reporting actual and potential claims (when and how).
If a hotline contact concerns a claim or incident (a matter reasonably likely to result in a claim, or a subpoena matter), we will recommend that the accounting firm follow the procedure established by its carrier for reporting such matters. The hotline does have its limits, however:
- It does not constitute the reporting of a claim/incident;
- It does not provide guidance on questions of policy coverage or underwriting; and
- It does not address questions specific to state law.
As part of this service, monthly we send the carrier a log reflecting the date, duration, state of origin, and subject matter of each communication without disclosing the identity of the inquiring firm. These logs provide carriers with valuable data concerning their programs and the accounting industry.