An after-the-event insurer has introduced a new emergency insurance product to cope with the surge in demand from solicitors in the run-up to 1 April.
Keystone Legal said the product would enable it to issue policies ahead of the April deadline, when the Jackson reforms are implemented, but revisit the level of premium within 120 days.
The move follows the company’s offer of £1 ‘top-up’ cover for cases insured by other providers.
ATE policies issued before 1 April will benefit from the old rules, whereby the cost of the premium will be recovered from losing defendants, rather than met by claimants. The change has led to a rush to sign clients up to ATE insurance this month.
Chris Marden, managing director of Keystone Legal, said demand from solicitors was ‘completely crazy’, and regretted that lawyers had not addressed the issue some months ago.
He said that while Keystone was still able to process more straightforward enquiries, it needed further information to deal with some of the more bespoke cases, and there was not now enough time to obtain this.
The insurer has therefore set up a special policy which allows it to ‘revisit’ the inception premium within 120 days of issue.
‘This will allow us to adjust the premium up or down depending on the circumstances, and this effectively buys us more time’, said Marden.
In a separate development, Keystone has introduced online emergency cover for when a solicitor has just received a case, and has not had time to properly assess the prospects of success or establish whether the claimant is covered by before-the-event insurance.
The cover provides solicitors with ‘limited handling authority’ until it has been confirmed that the case fits Keystone’s standard acceptance criteria.
A comprehensive table of the new post-Jackson ATE products available from insurers will be published in the April edition of Litigation Funding magazine.