Marsh says small law firms face another challenging PI renewal season

Whilst many professional indemnity insurance companies are running for the hills when it comes to small solicitor firms Marsh believes it has identified and partnered with two that want to insure them.
Marsh has issued a statement saying “Small legal practices are bracing themselves for another challenging renewal season for solicitors’ professional indemnity (PI) insurance, as insurers assess their risk profiles with increased rigour. In contrast to many larger firms that continue to reap the benefits of benign market conditions, smaller practices face soaring premiums as insurers either withdraw or retreat from the market”.
Marsh is offering two to three-partner firms exclusive access to Legal & Professional Insurance, part of Liberty Mutual Insurance Europe, and four to ten-partner firms exclusive access to XL Insurance for solicitors’ PI cover. Both insurers are rated A (excellent) by AM Best.  In the past many smaller firms have insured with insurance companies with lower ratings such as Quinn and have faced uncertainty about payment of claims.
“PI renewals have become increasingly difficult and costly for many firms outside of the top 100,” commented Janine Parker, Head of UK Solicitors’ PI at Marsh. “Rates have continued to climb and the number of firms in the Assigned Risk Pool has risen dramatically. Many smaller firms with excellent records are experiencing real difficulty in securing PI insurance at reasonable terms.
“As the renewal date approaches, Marsh has brought together the expertise of leading solicitors’ PI insurers to offer a measured alternative to the annual scramble for insurance cover that many smaller firms endure.”
As well as obtaining quotations from its panel of financially secure insurers, Marsh’s service offers a range of flexible premium payment options, claims handling by claims handlers specially-trained in solicitors’ claims, and accredited risk management training.
It appears that insurance companies are choosing to offer more exclusive or restricted arrangements with certain brokers. For example whilst L&PI and XL Insurance are only available through Marsh other insurers such as First Title are using brokers like Windsor Partners and a small number of other brokers to sell their insurance.
The assumption that a broker has access to the whole of the market no longer appears applicable and conveyancers need to be careful to choose a broker that has access to the insurers that are most interested in their sector.
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