Two insurers which together account for almost a quarter of the solicitors’ professional indemnity insurance market are making significant cuts to their books for the 2013 renewal, the Gazette can reveal.

XL, which was the biggest PII provider in the market last year with a 16% share, has confirmed that it is withdrawing cover for law firms with one to three partners. It is also understood that AIG, which held 8% of the solicitors’ market in 2012, is pulling out of the market for firms which rely heavily on conveyancing. The insurer declined to comment.

Nigel Wallis, a partner at north-west firm O’Connors, said underwriters are increasingly nervous about the legal sector in the current climate.

‘None of them wants to be left holding the parcel when the music stops, only to find the prize is having to provide six years’ run-off cover,’ he said.

Frank Maher, partner at Liverpool firm Legal Risk, said any reduction in the availability of cover with rated insurers will be a concern to many firms following the collapse of unrated insurer Lemma, and the withdrawal from the market of unrated insurers ERIC and Balva.

Law Society head of regulation Elliott Vigar urged solicitors to use the Society’s helpline (tel: 020 7320 9545).