PII renewal: "substantial" rises, short acceptance deadlines and variable quotes

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By Legal Futures

28 October 2010

Cover: same insurers dealing with same proposal forms from different brokers gave variable quotes

Solicitors have generally seen a “substantial increase” in their professional indemnity insurance (PII) premiums this year, the Law Society has reported.

The society’s PII helpline also received complaints about short deadlines to accept quotes, variable quotes from the same insurer and brokers being “less than truthful” with solicitors.

As of 5 October, the society’s PII helpline, which launched on 16 August, had received 1,434 calls.

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This is about the same as in 2009, although then it opened on 10 September.

The main issues emanating from the helpline before the 1 October renewal deadline were:

  • Difficulties in obtaining cover, or affordable cover, which was mainly experienced by firms with predominantly conveyancing or immigration practices; with low gross turnover; with a significant claims history or subject to SRA investigation; and/or sole practitioners.
  • Insurers’ delayed responses to early proposal forms.
  • Offers with strict deadlines attached, varying from three to 21 days, the most common being seven days. Solicitors found themselves accepting offers under pressure only to receive substantially better offers from others. They then had variable results in attempting to extricate themselves from the offers they had initially accepted.
  • A wide range of quotes, from low to high, from different qualifying insurers processing identical proposal forms.
  • Equally variable quotes from the same insurer, processing the same proposal forms, but through different brokers.
  • A significant number of complaints that firms found it difficult to obtain information from brokers, or that brokers had been less than truthful with them.

Post 1 October, brokers reported that insurers were inundated with new business, meaning they could not issue policy numbers or documents. Solicitors were calling the helpline out of concern that they may not actually be covered. “In light of current incidents of accepted quotes having been withdrawn, solicitors are advised to notify their circumstances to the SRA’s PII unit,” said a paper to a meeting of the society’s membership board last week.

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