Solicitors PII Renewal: Challenges in Obtaining PII

solicitors PII Insurance

 

The renewal processes for Professional Indemnity Insurance (PII) is becoming increasingly difficult for solicitors. With many firms seeing substantial  premiums increases, and some insurers declining to insure solicitors, a small number of law firms have been left without cover and have been required to close as a result. 

The traditional renewal date for PII has always been October; however, there is now a ‘secondary renewal season’ in Spring. In October 2020, solicitors experienced the impact of a hard PII market  on a significant level due to the impact of covid-19. The market is showing no real signs of improvement, and the Law Society has urged firms to act early in preparation for the 2021 October solicitors PII renewal date. 

Why are the solicitors PII renewal difficulties being faced?

Economic uncertainty caused by Brexit and the covid-19 pandemic has undoubtedly played a major role; however, other influences such as increased claims activity against practices have led to insurers becoming more reluctant to insure solicitors. The factors below are just some of those which are now considered in the risk management process by insurers when making the decision to insure a law firm.

  • Claim activity against solicitors: Although the number of claims being made against solicitors has not increased drastically, the monetary values for the claims are surging. Whilst the majority of firms are not experiencing any claims against them, the value of the pay-outs for those who are experiencing claims now exceeds the total premium collected by insurers for all solicitors. As the volume of work for some legal sectors, such as conveyancing and contentious probate increases, the risk of high-value claims will also increase, leading to increased risk for insurers. 
  • SRA minimum terms and conditions (MTC) – It could be said that this type of insurance for legal professionals is less profitable and more difficult to underwrite than other types of insurance. The reason for this is due to the SRA MTC, which often acts as a financial guarantee, containing more terms and conditions and a number of exclusions. The broad wording of the MTC may deter new insurers from providing cover for the legal profession. 
  • Cyber-attacks – Cyber-attacks are becoming more and more common in all industries. As solicitors are in possession of high volumes of sensitive client data, claims against law firms for data breaches due to cyber-attacks are likely. 
  • Economic uncertainty – The economic uncertainty caused by Brexit and the pandemic has led to insurers taking a very cautious approach in providing cover for solicitors in all areas. Although the outlook following Brexit is positive, and restrictions are beginning to ease, the economy will be in a fragile state for some time now and insurers will be particularly reluctant to insure those in practice areas that are more susceptible to recessionary losses. 
  • Stamp duty holiday – The stamp duty holiday has had a positive impact on the conveyancing industry. As firms witness increases in conveyancing work, the risk of high-value claims being made against them will also inevitably increase. Furthermore, as deadlines approach, there will be a higher risk of conveyancers rushing their work and making mistakes as a result. Solicitors may also fail to properly inform their clients that they cannot guarantee that the transaction will be completed prior to the deadline.

 

Solicitors PII Renewals: The outlook

It is clear that a large proportion of PII insurers have been reluctant over the past few years to insure those working in the legal services industry. It is doubtful that the outlook will change any time soon, and those areas of law which may be deemed as higher risk will face the greatest difficulties. Insurance premiums are likely to increase steadily, and some firms still run the risk of not obtaining cover at all. 

Insurers now expect a completed covid-related questionnaire as well as a presentation which should include a proposal form and insurer claim summaries. 

 

What should solicitors do to ensure they obtain PII cover?

Solicitors should ensure that they provide a good quality presentation to ensure that their renewal applications are accepted. An insight into your practice should be given, and a supporting note will also be required. You should discuss your plans to mitigate specific risks associated with your practice area within your application.

As recommended by the Law Society, solicitors need to be organised and should prepare and submit their applications months in advance. A large proportion of solicitors do not submit their presentations until the last four weeks leading up to renewal, and others miss the deadline completely.

 

How can Recovery First Assist?

Recovery First can assist firms wishing to exit specific areas of law. You may decide to exit a high-risk market to ensure you obtain adequate PII insurance for the rest of the firm. 

We offer a positive solution to any law firm by helping them exit any legal market whilst remaining solvent, maintaining cash flow, and ensuring they get the most out of their files.

As well as assisting firms who are going through restructuring, we also assist many firms who are going through the formal insolvency process. We work alongside the insolvency team to come up with the right plan tailored to meet the needs of each specific firm.

Whatever the reason, Recovery First will ensure the most positive and profitable outcome is achieved. An additional benefit being that the firm’s clients not only get a seamless transfer, but they are also married up with a firm specialised in their particular needs. The unique scheme offered by Recovery First is suitable for law firms and professional advisors, including restructuring and insolvency solicitors, insolvency practitioners and accountants. Our team manage the transfer of files from start to finish, placing case files with an approved law firm so as to protect the integrity of the client’s case.

We will provide you with all the advice and support you need, and we guarantee 100% confidentiality for all clients. If you would like to find out more about Recovery First’s process, feel free to get in touch today via email (david.johnstone@recoveryfirst.co.uk), telephone (0845 056 1258) or contact Sally Dunscombe at sally.dunscombe@recoveryfirst.co.uk or 01357 440140.

It's never too late to speak to Recovery First. Contact us now in the strictest confidence

Sally Dunscombe:

sally.dunscombe@recoveryfirst.co.uk

David Johnstone:

david.johnstone@recoveryfirst.co.uk

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