Solicitors' professional indemnity (PI) rates have been driven down by up to 25% because of high levels of competition, according to experts.

Predictions before the 1 October renewal date were of decreases in the order of 10%-20%.

Sandra Neilson-Moore, European practice leader for law firms' PI at Marsh, had predicted rate decreases of up to 10% at firms with good claims experience and risk management.

Since the renewal date she said some insurers were forced to react to competition by decreasing rates in order to retain their clients.

Steve Holland, executive director at Alexander Forbes Professions, said competition had driven rates down by about 20%. He predicted there would have to be a "market correction" at some point, to deal with the soft market.

Holland said: "If you see rates driven down much more, and further softening next year, it's unsustainable."

Aon Professional Risks said it believed the Assigned Risk Pool total premium declaration would fall below £200m for the first time.

Nicholas Gilbert, director at Aon's professional risks division, said: "We anticipate that the market will harden going forward and would expect premium rate increases to be caused by one of a number of factors."