The mandatory professional indemnity insurance (PII) renewal date for all firms is 1 December 2014. This date is not negotiable. All cover under the current indemnity period will expire on 30 November 2014.
Confirmation of cover
All firms must ensure that confirmation of their PII cover is provided to the Society within three working days of 1 December 2014. Therefore, confirmation of cover in the designated form must be provided to the Society on or before Thursday 4 December 2014.
Confirmation of cover should be provided by your broker through the Society’s online PII confirmation system. Such confirmation must include your policy number, and confirmation of cover cannot be provided until the policy is actually in place. As your firm has a statutory obligation to ensure such confirmation of cover is provided to the Society on or before Thursday 4 December 2014, you are responsible for ensuring that your broker provides the Society with confirmation of cover by that date. You should also ensure that your broker has familiarised themselves with the online confirmation system and has the necessary information to confirm cover online (such as their login and password) in advance of 4 December 2014.
It is noted that some firms who have confirmed PII cover to the Society during 2014 have a coverage period that extends past 30 November 2014. Such firms are still required to reconfirm cover for 2014/2015 with the Society by 4 December 2014.
Please note that your firm will not be reflected as having PII in place on the Society’s ‘Find a Firm’ online search facility until such time as the Society has received the required online confirmation of cover.
Guide to renewal
The Guide to Renewal for the 2014/2015 indemnity period is published on the Society’s website to assist the profession with renewal. The guide includes information such as tips for renewal, important points to note, and a guide to insurers and brokers. This guide will be updated frequently with new information received by the Society, in particular with regard to what insurers will be in the market in the next indemnity period.
2014/2015 renewal resources
Renewal resources for the 2014/2015 indemnity period are available to download from the Society website at www.lawsociety.ie/PII and currently include:
- The Common proposal form for 2014/2015 indemnity period and relevant guidelines;
- The PII Guide To Renewal 2014/2015;
- The PII regulations and minimum terms and conditions for 2014/2015;
- The Participating Insurers Agreement for 2014/2015, and
- Relevant PII practice notes.
This area will be updated frequently as more documentation becomes available.
Disclosure of financial ratings
Financial ratings are obtained by insurers following assessment of their financial strength through an independent process by a rating agency. While a financial rating is an indication of the financial strength of an insurer, it does not guarantee an insurer’s financial solvency.
The Society changed the title of ‘qualified insurer’ to ‘participating insurer’ for the 2013/2014 indemnity period and has kept this change in place for the 2014/2015 indemnity period to more accurately reflect and emphasise the Society’s limited role regarding insurers in the solicitors’ PII market and to dispel the mistaken impression of approval or financial strength that may have been incorrectly inferred from the title ‘qualified insurer’.
Participating insurers are required to disclose their financial rating, or absence thereof, to firms when issuing quotations. This requirement was introduced in the 2011/2012 indemnity period, and remains in place for the 2014/2015 indemnity period in order to:
- Allow firms to make a more fully informed decision on their choice of insurer,
- Ensure full transparency for the profession in relation to participating insurers meeting, or not meeting, generally accepted standards of financial strength, and
- Do so in a way that will not restrict firms’ choice of insurer.
It should be noted that all participating insurers in the market are permitted to write insurance in this jurisdiction under the supervision of the Central Bank. The Society is not responsible for policing the financial stability of any insurer. The Society does not vet, approve or regulate insurers.
More in-depth information on financial rating of insurers can be found on the Society’s website at www.lawsociety.ie/PII and in the guide to renewal.
Notification of claims by 30 November 2014
All claims made against solicitors’ firms and circumstances that may give rise to such a claim should be notified to the firm’s insurer as soon as possible. In particular, claims made between 1 December 2013 and 30 November 2014 (both dates inclusive) should be notified by the firm to their insurer by 30 November 2014.
It is proper practice for firms to notify insurers of claims or circumstances during the year as they arise, not that the end of the indemnity period. Notifying all claims and circumstances at the end of the indemnity period is referred to as ‘laundry listing’ by insurers, and is not looked on favourably. Firms should also ensure that their claims and circumstances notifications meet the notifications requirements set out in the insurance policy terms and conditions.
The minimum terms and conditions for PII were amended in the 2011 PII regulations, and the change is retained in the minimum terms and conditions for 2014/2015, to permit firms to report claims or circumstances of which they are aware prior to expiry of cover to their insurer within three working days immediately following the end of the coverage period. Therefore, a three working day grace period from 30 November 2014 is in place with regard to notification of claims and circumstances to your insurer.
Insurers are required to leave quotes to firms open for a period of not less than ten working days. This requirement was introduced in the 2012/2013 indemnity period and remains in place for the 2014/2015 indemnity period.
Amendments for 2014/2015 indemnity period
The 2014 PII regulations consolidate the PII regulations for 2011 with the 2012 and 2013 amending regulations. These regulations contain the minimum terms and conditions, and are available on the Society’s website at www.lawsociety.ie/PII.
A new regulation 8(b) has been included in the 2014 regulations, which introduces the requirement for a firm to cease practice on the date specified in the firm’s notice of intention to cease practice, even if that firm’s PII cover extends beyond the notified date of cessation. This is ensure that firms actually cease on their nominated date of cessation and cannot provide legal services past that date. Firms are advised, if possible, not to have a nominated closing date earlier than the date of cessation of your PII cover. Firms may close their doors and refuse any new business earlier than the date of cessation of their cover, and take the extra time to thoroughly and properly wind-down their practice with PII in place. If firms wish to change their notified date of cessation, this must be done in advance of the date of cessation, not retroactively.
The Run-off Fund provides run-off cover for firms ceasing practice:
- That have renewed their PII for the current indemnity period, and
- Subject to meeting eligibility criteria, including that there is no succeeding practice in respect of the firm.
Any firm intending to cease practice after 30 November 2014 is required to renew cover for the 2014/2015 indemnity period.
Any applications to the Run-off Fund for cover must be made directly to the Special Purpose Fund manager, not the Society. Further information on run-off cover and succeeding practices, including the contact details of the Special Purpose Fund manager, can be found on the Society’s website at www.lawsociety.ie/Solicitors/Practising/PII/Run-off-Cover/.
The Society continues to operate the PII Helpline to assist firms in dealing with PII queries. The Law Society’s PII helpline is available Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm, to assist firms with PII queries at 01 879 8707 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
John Elliot, Registrar of Solicitors and Director of Regulation