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INTERESTING RENEWAL SEASON PREDICTED

Not the most popular date on solicitors' calendars over recent years; the looming professional indemnity renewal season has featured a lot in the media this month. Not least with some curious advice from one lawyer on how to save time getting your next quote.

The solicitors' professional indemnity market has veered from one crisis to another recently, with capacity crunches threatening its very existence back in 2009/10. However there are chinks of light from certain quarters which may indicate a softening of rates and a calmer period for all concerned. Before the summer lull, brokers often provide a little crystal ball gazing and Martin Ellis, director of Prime Professions, explained to the Law Society Gazette that  there may still be late entrants to the solicitors' professional indemnity market.

Mr Ellis wouldn't be drawn on precisely what this could mean, but rival broker Lockton came out with the prediction that premiums could still be set to rise by 10% in 2011 for firms with no new claims and no significant change in circumstances.

For those dreading the administrative burden of obtaining quotes for their business, solicitor David Pickup offered his ten cents by suggesting that one should simply ignore brokers' proposal forms and write 'see attached' with whatever information you think is relevant. Presumably if Mr Pickup is to be believed and they want the business enough, brokers will work around their clients' idiosyncrasies - Premex Group and its subsidiaries would like to point out it does not endorse such a course of action!

And finally, solicitors' professional indemnity insurers may have got themselves out of some potentially very hot water after complaints of bias were alleged against the market from diversity groups. Concerns had been raised by black and ethnic minority lawyers that insurers had refused cover or given higher quotes because of the ethnicity of the lawyers running the firm.

The Financial Services Authority took the issue seriously as you would expect and launched an investigation. However the Gazette reported later that no evidence had been found to support the claims, but the FSA did warn insurers to be aware of their legal obligations when deciding to provide or refuse cover including appropriate controls to avoid the risk of unlawful discrimination arising from their risk-based underwriting practices.