From Legal Futures’ Associate Miller Insurance .
If your law firm still hasn’t found professional indemnity insurance then you shouldn’t worry – providing you act soon. Here’s what you should do.
Those firms that still haven’t got insurance by now will broadly fall into two categories: those who expect to renew their cover easily, and those who are already encountering issues.
If you haven’t started looking for cover
Some of you simply might not have got round to doing it yet. That’s understandable, but although the 1 October renewal deadline might look a long way off you do need to start the process now otherwise you might not get the best deal.
The PI market continues to be competitive, so if your law firm hasn’t suffered claims recently and isn’t deemed to be a higher risk then you should find a new policy relatively simply.
At the moment, we’re seeing some smaller law firms with fewer than six partners paying lower premiums than last year, while prices remain steady for larger practices. But you shouldn’t wait any longer. Here’s what you should do:
- Prepare and submit your proposal forms now. It’s worth taking your time over these if you want to make a good first impression. Thousands of law firms are looking for insurance right now from fewer than 20 insurers, so your proposal needs to persuade them why they should choose to cover your firm over many others. (For more tips on this request a copy of our guide to PI insurance) 
- Get an up-to-date claims summary for the past six years. This is essential for underwriters, so if you haven’t already received one from your existing insurer then you need to get it ASAP.
- Test the market. You might be perfectly happy with your insurer, but it’s always good to know you’re getting the best terms available. It’s worth asking a few brokers to send your proposal to other underwriters to see how they respond.
- Hit the right targets, not every broker will have direct access to every insurer, so you may need speak to a broker that has a broad direct access to the insurance market to ensure it can get you a full range of quotes. Speak to a broker with a strong track record in solicitors’ PI who can advise you on which are the best insurers for your firm.
If you have started but are having problems
If your law firm has already sent off its proposal forms and either hasn’t heard back from insurers or you’ve already been turned down, then you shouldn’t panic, but you do need to address the underlying issues urgently.
Here’s what you should do:
- Do you know why you’re having problems? It might be as simple as you’re approaching the wrong insurers or you haven’t included the right information in your proposal. Ask another broker to give you a second opinion on whether your approach is correct.
- Tackle your problems. If insurers have explained to you why they won’t offer you cover then you need to address their concerns. Don’t think that if you approach enough insurers then one will be bound to offer you cover. Einstein said you shouldn’t keep doing the same thing over and over and expect a different result. Chances are that if your proposal sets alarm bells ringing at one insurer then it will do the same elsewhere.
To convince wary insurers to cover your practice you must reassure them that you’re a risk worth taking. If your firm has suffered a claim then you need to explain what happened and what you’re doing to solve that problem. Contrary to opinion, insurers do understand that mistakes happen. But they want to know you won’t keep making the same mistakes. A good broker will help explain where you’re going wrong and how to develop a strong pitch that will help change underwriters’ minds.