PI insurer QBE continuing investigation

Confusion is mounting over compensation for lost premiums placed via broker Preston Whiteside.

Sources close to Laing & Co, which placed liability cover with Preston Whiteside, recently claimed that Laing's professional indemnity (PI) insurer would soon be making payments, but Laing & Co's PI insurer QBE denied that it had agreed to pay out on any claims.

QBE speciality lines portfolio manager David Eynon said: "QBE Internat-ional Insurance has never been close to making a payment in this respect."

A source close to Willis & Co, one of several clients seeking recompense from Laing & Co, said: "Earlier this year, Laing's PI insurer said it was going to do a deal...but it hasn't happened. [Willis] have not received a penny."

The Serious Fraud Office (SFO) has carried out a series of raids, in conjunction with local police, on several brokers, including Laing & Co.

The raids took place as part of an investigation into an alleged £3.5m liability insurance fraud, which included employers' and public liability business.

"Clearly, the Serious Fraud Office's involvement adds another dynamic to this situation," Eynon said. "QBE continues to investigate the claim in the normal way."

Earlier this year, Laing & Co sued Preston Whiteside for £1m.

Laing & Co obtained judgement and an order for an interim payment of £160,000 was made by the High Court.

The suit followed allegations that Preston Whiteside failed to obtain insurance cover in respect of premiums paid by Laing & Co.

In its High Court claim, Laing & Co said that, between January 2002 and 31 December 2002, it paid £1.17m in premiums to Preston Whiteside.

But Preston Whiteside failed to obtain insurance cover in respect of paid premiums and sent false invoices to Laing & Co.