A new insurer today entered the professional indemnity market for small law firms, having taken over the run-off claims-handling function of the Solicitors Indemnity Fund (SIF).
Cheltenham-based Vision Underwriting Limited intends to market to firms of up to five partners in size, both on a direct basis and through the Internet. Its entry will be welcomed given the difficulties small firms insured with Quinn are expected to have finding new cover if Quinn stops writing solicitors’ business this year.
Vision is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Liberty Mutual Insurance Europe Limited, part of massive US insurer Liberty Mutual Group.
The Law Society said the transfer of claims-handling functions currently handled by Legal & Professional Claims Ltd (LP Claims) would secure an “economic and viable long-term solution for the handling of the run-off of SIF claims, a task which is expected to take another ten years to complete on an ever declining basis”. It said outsourcing claims handling creates cost efficiencies for the SIF and for the solicitors’ profession which funds it. Under the arrangements, control of the SIF and its indemnity arrangements will remain with the Law Society.
The current LP Claims staff of eight, including chief executive George Raubenheimer, will transfer to Vision.
Paul Kurgo, managing director for commercial business in the UK and Ireland for Liberty Mutual Insurance Europe Ltd, said: “This is an exciting opportunity for Vision as it enters a sector of the solicitors’ market currently experiencing a growing concern about the availability of a competitive market place. I am also pleased that we have been able to secure a professional and highly experienced claims team that has been recognised for the quality of its management of solicitors claims, developed over many years.”
George Raubenheimer added: “Solicitors’ firms of one to five partners will recognise the value, benefits and stability of combining the very best of SIF claims management with that of a large internationally recognised insurer. The profession will have comfort knowing that the run-off of the remainder of the SIF claims will continue to be dealt with professionally and to the highest standards.”
Law Society chief executive Des Hudson said: “The Law Society has secured an excellent result for the profession, which secures the viability of the handling of SIF run-off claims at a reasonable cost and at a time when we are working hard to keep to a minimum the overheads on solicitors. I am delighted that we have been able to reach agreement with Vision Underwriting Limited and that I am also able to welcome the arrival of another insurer for solicitors.”
Vision will be trading online under the title of Legal and Professional Insurance (www.LPinsure.co.uk ).