Sole practitioners and principals of small firms have reacted with shock and bewilderment to letters notifying them that their insurer has pulled out of the professional indemnity market.
The letters, from broker Aon, state that its Maven MGA scheme can no longer offer cover. With most policies still lapsing on the old 30 September renewal date, this leaves them with little time to agree alternative cover. One solicitor contacted the Gazette yesterday to say that, after 12 years without a claim, he had received a letter from Aon saying it is no longer covering small firms like mine. 'Came as a huge shock whilst I am on holiday in Spain,' he said.
Another recipient of the letter, Cardiff sole practitioner Andrew Lucas of AG Lucas and Co, said the letter came as 'a complete bolt from the blue'.
He told the Gazette: 'No explanation is provided by Aon in the letter that they have effectively exited the professional indemnity insurance market and the reader is left with the impression that the inability to obtain a renewal quotation may be the firm's fault. I telephoned Aon persistently yesterday to try and find out what was going on however, the direct line number provided at the foot of the letter was unobtainable whilst the main switchboard number was continuously engaged. I now have to try and find cover with another insurer and start the renewal process very late in the day.'
In a statement this morning, Aon said: 'Aon UK Ltd provides professional indemnity insurance broking and advisory services to solicitors firms of all sizes. A number of insurers are withdrawing from the solicitors PI market including Maven Underwriters. A number of Lloyd’s capacity providers who have previously supported the Maven MGA have withdrawn their capacity as part of the Lloyds profitability review.
'Aon has negotiated with alternative insurers and partner brokers who specialise in PI for solicitors to ensure that all existing Aon/Maven clients with cover lapsing on 30th September 2019 are offered a renewal strategy that will deliver the very best terms available in the market. Aon continues to provide sustainable insurance solutions for all of its clients in this sector.'
Insurers that have exited the PII market in recent years include Aspen, Brit, Channel, Hamilton, Libra and Pioneer. During April renewals, two of the managing general agent-based schemes backed by Lloyd’s struggled to quote after losing their capacity, and have now also withdrawn from the solicitor market.