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Solicitors Professional Indemnity Insurance Market Update

Whilst the majority of solicitors renew their PII cover on 1st October, there is a significant cohort who renew on 1st April. Whilst not definitive, the outcomes of the April season are an indicator of how the market might react in the October season.

There is a malaise in the wider PII market at present. A lack of capacity is driving premiums upwards and the affects of this have been felt particularly in the accountancy, insurance broking and design/construct sectors. Increases in these sectors have been severe. The pandemic has further unnerved insurers and added a layer of uncertainty. A lack of capacity and a degree of uncertainty are shallow foundations to any financial house. The April season saw insurers ask pandemic related questions as to how firms are managing the exposures related to home working. Compliance and cyber risks are clearly at the forefront of insurers minds.

Against this background there was little appetite amongst insurers for new business during the April renewal season. Many, although not all insurers, were reluctant to accommodate firms where the percentage of conveyancing work undertaken exceeds 25% of all activities. For those firms with up to 10 partners, primary layers of cover i.e. the first £2m to £3m of cover saw increases averaging between 15% and 25%. These increases, whilst significant, are a fraction of the increases applied to other professions where doublings and trebling’s are not uncommon.

Excess layers of cover, i.e. those top-ups from £3m to £10m, suffered severe increases averaging 50% to 60% reflecting the abject lack of capacity in the market and also a trend towards major losses in these layers. There was a time in the not so distant past when excess layers were priced between £1,100 and £1,550 per million of cover. Those days are long gone.

Excess layers above £10m are available with premiums rising on average between 15% and 20%.

 

Of course, market norms and averages are just that. Insurers underwrite each risk individually and the exposure presented allied to the claims experience can produce an outcome that is either substantially better or worse than the norm.

However the market behaves,  our objective is to achieve the best possible outcome. Having a coherent strategy is essential. Starting the process early is non-negotiable. Compiling a high-quality submission to underwriters is as important as ever. We have an experienced team and access to all markets. We are here to guide and advise you through the vagaries of the PII market.

One final point: we have seen a marked increase in cyber claims during recent months. Cyber criminals are clearly taking advantage of staff working remotely. We are seeing ever more sophisticated ransomware attacks; a Doncaster firm recently experienced an attack by the Russian ‘Darkside’ organisation. It seems implausible that the crew who attacked the Californian oil pipeline in recent weeks should launch an attack in Doncaster but that is the cyber world – a world of no boundaries. We have seen firms suffer major disruption and losses from attacks and for this reason, if you haven’t done so already, a conversation around cyber cover is a must.

 

Please feel free to contact our specialist team at ProAktive:

Ian Laycock, ianlaycock@proaktive.co.uk  07939 081190

Andy Morley, andymorley@proaktive.co.uk  07961 179821

Dane Turner, daneturner@proaktive.co.uk  07958517694

 

By Ian Laycock FCII, Chartered Insurance Broker and Group CEO. 

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