Creating A Positive Impression
When completing your practice’s proposal form always bear in mind that underwriters are human. Whilst much of their assessment of your firm will focus on data such as the work you undertake, your fee income, claims experience and so on, other factors can be taken into consideration. A well-presented submission that includes all relevant supporting documentation is always going to be better received than a handwritten one that is incomplete. The key is to ensure that your firm stands out for all the right reasons.
When making your submission consider the following:
Ensure that the proposal form and any additional questionnaires are completed on a computer
Handwritten forms can look unprofessional, especially if completed in a hurry. If your broker provides you with a proposal form that can only be completed by hand ask them for an electronic version of the form.
Check your spelling and grammar
This might sound like an obvious point but a significant proportion of the submissions we receive initially include one or more errors of this type. How would an underwriter view these? Well logically, if a firm can make such errors in its PII submission then it is not beyond reason that there could be a similar issue with attention to detail in the work that they undertake for their clients.
Complete every area of the proposal form and any additional questionnaires
Incomplete forms can slow the renewal process and can reflect badly on a firm. Avoid leaving questions unanswered and sections incomplete unless the form specifically states that a response is optional or that one is not required in your particular circumstances.
Answer all follow-on questions
Many proposal forms include questions that are only triggered by a particular response to a preceding question. These are usually in the form of a request for further information should you answer ‘Yes’ to a particular question or questions. You should always provide full and clear responses that ideally eliminate the need for further clarification.
Provide all supporting documentation
Proposal forms normally include questions asking whether your firm has been subject to disciplinary proceedings, monitoring visits, investigations and such like. They will also ask whether individuals at the firm have had restrictions imposed upon their practising certificates, been fined or reprimanded, had financial issues, and so on. If you answer ‘Yes’ to any of these questions ensure that you include any written documentation related to the particular matter, e.g. correspondence from the SRA. If you do not have written correspondence or if you need to provide additional information then do so via the ‘additional information’ section of the proposal form or on a sheet of the firm’s headed paper that accompanies the submission and that is referenced in the proposal form.
Supply copies of your firm’s accounts for the last two completed financial years
Underwriters will be keen to establish your firm’s solvency and for many insurers accounts information is a pre-requisite.
Provide a minimum of six years’ claims information
This needs to have been provided by your current and prior insurers and should normally have been produced within the three months prior to you making your submission. A handful of insurers require as much as ten years of claims information. Your broker will normally collate this information for you and supply it to insurers on your behalf. If you are approaching other brokers then you will need to obtain copies of your firm’s claims information from your current broker. If your firm has experienced claims that have resulted in insurer payments then it can be helpful to include details of any remedial steps that you have taken in order to avoid a reoccurrence. These can be noted in the ‘additional information’ section of the proposal form or on a separate sheet of the practice’s headed paper annexed to the submission.
Do not leave it until the last minute
Firms that return their renewal submission at the eleventh hour run the risk of having fewer insurance options available to them and receiving terms that are less competitive. Firms occasionally also find themselves without an offer of insurance before the expiry of their existing policy. Even where this is a temporary situation the firm would need to enter the Extended Indemnity Period (“EIP”) which requires notification to the SRA. Aim to make your submission at least one month prior to renewal, ideally sooner. As a matter of course, The Professional Indemnity Company contacts its Solicitor clients 4-5 months before renewal and conducts the process over mutually agreed timescales.
Be careful not to approach too many brokers
Whilst you may want the best deal for your practice there are likely to be significantly more brokers wanting to secure your business than there are insurers who are likely to be competitive. Try to avoid duplication, i.e. multiple brokers approaching the same insurer(s). Insurers can be less receptive to a risk when they have seen it from numerous sources and normally prefer to receive a submission from one broker. Many insurers also work on a “first come first served” basis so would only provide terms to one broker anyway.
Expect regular feedback
PII broking is not a ‘black art’ and you should expect your broker to conduct renewal negotiations in a transparent manner and to provide you with regular feedback, especially if the process has become protracted. If two or more weeks go by without an update we would suggest that you contact your broker and ask how they are progressing. If your renewal date is rapidly approaching then you should expect more regular feedback and if possible an idea of when insurer discussions are likely to be concluded.
Consider how you will be paying the premium before you receive quotations
A Solicitors’ professional indemnity insurance policy is a non-cancellable agreement. As a result, insurers will not normally confirm that cover is in place until they are in receipt of funds settling the premium in full. Try to avoid the risk of going beyond your renewal date without confirmed cover by ensuring that funds are available to settle the premium swiftly and in advance of the renewal date. Until cover is formally confirmed insurers can theoretically withdraw your offer of insurance leaving you without cover. This is a rare occurrence but it can happen, especially where a particular insurer has a finite capacity that has been reached.
Can We Help?
As our name suggests, The Professional Indemnity Company is a specialist, independent professional indemnity insurance broker.
Our Solicitor Division was set-up by Solicitors, for Solicitors and our Account Managers have over 40 years’ experience in securing quality, competitive cover for law firms.
If you would like to discuss your own professional indemnity insurance requirements, including the completion of your firm’s proposal form, or if you want us to provide you with quotations, please contact us on:
0333 733 5192 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
This document is intended for information purposes only.
Whilst all care has been taken to ensure its accuracy it should not to be regarded as a substitute for specific advice. This document should not be reproduced in any form without our prior permission.
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