An elite provider of professional indemnity insurance to top-200 law firms is pulling out of the market, the Gazette can reveal. Libra Managers, which provides cover to 20 of the top-200, confirmed to the Gazette it will not underwrite any new business from 1 October. Ten of the 20, for which 1 October is the renewal date, have just six weeks to find a new insurer.
City of London-based Libra is run by an independent firm of specialist managers – Tindall Riley & Co Limited – which dates back to 1855. It provides PII underwritten at Lloyd’s of London (pictured) for larger firms of solicitors in the UK and internationally. Today’s development follows reports that Lloyd’s has initiated a strategic review of the whole business in response to a £2bn loss last year. Lloyd’s chairman Bruce Carnegie-Brown told Reuters last month that Lloyd’s is looking at all aspects of its business, including cost structure, technology, its role as a marketplace and a regulator, and how it mutualises risk.
In a statement to the Gazette, Libra said: ’After careful consideration Libra has concluded that current market conditions are not compatible with sustainable and responsible underwriting.’
John Wooldridge, of solicitors’ PII broker Howden, said Libra’s departure will have potentially ‘frightening consequences’ for all law firms seeking insurance in the runup to 1 October, which remains the most common renewal date for the sector. Upward pressure on prices is certain as a recently benign solicitors’ PII market starts to harden - especially as Libra is not the only provider linked to Lloyd’s to have pulled out this month. On 1 August Aspen Insurance UK revealed that after reviewing business written on the Lloyd’s platform, international professional indemnity had ‘disappointed’ and therefore Aspen would cease to underwrite this book.