Brunel solicitors’ PII clients have the reassurance of 2013-14 insurance and were offered the opportunity to opt for a full open market appraisal.

Brunel Professional Risks acted swiftly to protect all its solicitor clients affected by the suspension of Latvian insurer Balva’s licence to underwrite new business in the UK and subsequent withdrawal of all of Balva’s operating licences by Latvian regulators.

All of Brunel’s solicitor clients holding professional indemnity insurance (PII) with Balva were offered the option to cancel and replace their Balva policy with a policy from a new insurer, or to benefit from a full open market review of their PII options with quotations from both rated and unrated insurers.

The cancel and replace approach ensures that Brunel’s clients with Balva have incepted fully-qualifying cover for the 2013-14 policy year. Clients who accepted a 2 year policy with Balva were also offered the switch at no cost to them.

Russell Lane, Managing Director, Brunel Professional Risks, said:
A number of our solicitor clients were insured with Balva.  Our prompt action has ensured that they were offered a qualifying PII insurance for the 2013-14 policy year.  It has also eliminated the very real risk that some firms would struggle to find PII cover at the October 2013 renewal – without which they could not continue to practice. To offer any less would not have been in the best interest of our clients. Critics of Berliner are failing to acknowledge the harsh commercial conditions and lack of realistic insurance options facing many solicitor firms. This isn’t an abstract issue – people’s jobs and livelihoods are on the line.”

Frank Maher at Legal Risk LLP recently commented:
Were it not for unrated insurers, many solicitors would not have been able to trade forward as at the 2012 renewal. As it can take as long as 15-20 years to close a solicitors’ PII book it is understandable that solicitors will feel a change is necessary, irrespective of whether the original qualifying insurer was rated or unrated or remains solvent over such an extended period”.

 Paul Redfern, Partner, Beales, solicitors specialising in professional negligence, said:
If the cancel and replace option is made available then insurance brokers are right to offer it to their clients.  In a very difficult PII market for solicitors any broker failing to offer it to their clients could potentially be exposed to a claim for breach of duty.”

The decisive steps taken by Brunel ensured continuity of cover for its solicitor clients:

  • All Brunel’s solicitor clients insured with Balva were offered alternative cover from German regulated insurer Berliner Versicherung Aktiengesellschaft (Berliner) through APRO Management Ltd (APRO), the underwriting agents who were underwriting PII on behalf of Balva. The offer combined PII cover for the remainder of the 2012-13 policy year with an early renewal for the 2013-14 policy year – ensuring solicitors had qualifying insurance, without which they would be unable to practice.
  • All Brunel clients that did not wish to insure with Berliner continue to have cover until the 2013 renewal with Balva, which currently remains solvent and paying claims.  They were all offered the benefit from a full open market review of their PII insurance options which included quotations from both rated and unrated insurers.

Russell Lane, Managing Director, Brunel Professional Risks, said:
We have given our clients the option presented to us and the offer of a full open market review. I am pleased to say we are actively working on alternative quotations for the majority of clients which did not wish to insure with Berliner.