Insurer keeps number-one spot with 18% of £214m premium income, down from £242m last year

Qualifying insurers wrote £213.5m of solicitors’ professional indemnity (PI) premium for 2010/11, down 11.6% from £241.48m in 2009/10.

Chartis Insurance has the largest share of the solicitors’ PI market with 18.1%. Inter Hannover came second with 14.4% and XL Insurance third with 13.3%.

Chartis said it had serious reservations about the assigned risks pool (ARP). A current ‘root and branch’ review of the ARP is being studied by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

A spokesman said: “The newly published market share figures for the solicitors’ PI market confirm Chartis’s position as market leader.

“We do, however, have strong concerns about the efficient working of the market, in particular the way the ARP operates.

“The Chartis view is that the ARP needs a fundamental overhaul before next year’s renewal. The current situation is not good for solicitors or insurers.”

Chartis said the number of firms entering the ARP was “unacceptably” high, while other firms were refusing to pay ARP premiums but still expected cover. As a solution, Chartis proposes a levy on the profession and more restrictive terms and conditions for ARP solicitors, or allowing insurers to avoid paying claims where no premium is paid or there has been misrepresentation by the customer.

Speaking about the general trends in the market, United Insurance Brokers’ PI divisional director Simon Lovat said: “The thing that has been noticeable is insurers’ need for increased information. They are requiring even more information on potential assured than they have previously wanted.

“There has been, in the majority of the market, a general lack of desire to do deals. We think there has been a rise in premium spend, though it might not be reflected in these numbers.”