Hope for small firms as another A-rated insurer enters professional indemnity market

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By Legal Futures

25 July 2012

Lloyd’s of London: more insurance options for small law firms

Axis Specialty plc has become the second new A-rated insurer to enter the professional indemnity market for small law firms in a week.

The news comes in the wake of AmTrust Europe Ltd setting out its stall for sole practitioners.

Axis is targeting sole practitioners and two- or three-partner firms. Prime Professions, the broker through which solicitors can access the cover, said the move indicated that “the tide may be turning after several years of an unquestionably hard solicitors’ PII market”.

With more options now available, firms should not rush into renewal decisions and instead consider their options carefully, it said.

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Richard Brown, director at Prime Professions, said: “As the preferred broker for the Sole Practitioners Group, we are delighted to announce this exclusive deal to the market. Smaller firms, and in particular sole practitioners, have been faced with a tough market in recent years with a limited choice of policies. The tie-up will focus on risk management, and if firms can demonstrate a good history of this along with Lexcel and CQS accreditation – or if they are working towards it – this could be an attractive option.”

Martin Ellis, director and head of risk solutions at Prime, added: “This is an excellent development for solicitors and should come as good news for all in the midst of this year’s renewal season. We would now advise those looking to renew their PII to take their time and not rush into the first quote offered to them.

“Axis Specialty is an insurer right out of the top drawer, and their decision to enter the market should demonstrate to solicitors that, unlike in many previous years, there are more options out there.”

Last week broker JLT launched its sole practitioners’ PII service through an exclusive relationship with AmTrust.

Mike Perry, a partner at JLT Specialty Ltd, said AmTrust’s A rating came with a “long-term commitment that the market needs”.

He said JLT has spent the last year “immersing itself” in the solicitors’ indemnity world and is promising bespoke quotes “based on a real assessment of each individual risk profile”.

Also last week, the Law Society announced that broker Aon will provide a PII package to legal practices with the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) or Lexcel quality marks.

It said CQS and Lexcel firms who use the service may have access to PII quotes that reflect their accreditation in time for this year’s renewal. Under the initiative, Aon has an exclusive arrangement with two of the largest A-rated qualifying insurers for one to 10-partner firms, it said. Firms with 11 or more partners can apply but may be provided with quotes outside of these exclusive arrangements.

The society said both insurers are prepared to look favourably on CQS and/or Lexcel firms as part of their usual underwriting process. Each firm will still be individually underwritten based on their risk profile and claims history.


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