The mandatory professional indemnity insurance (PII) renewal date for all firms is 1 December 2017. This date is not negotiable. All cover under the current indemnity period will expire on 30 November 2017.
All firms must ensure that confirmation of their PII cover is provided to the Society within three working days of 1 December 2017, including those firms with variable renewal dates. Therefore, confirmation of cover in the designated form must be provided to the Society on or before close of business on Wednesday 6 December 2017.
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 Wednesday 6 December 2017, 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 6 December 2017.
It is noted that some firms who have confirmed PII cover to the Society during 2017 have a coverage period that extends past 30 November 2017. Such firms are still required to reconfirm cover for 2017/2018 with the Society by 6 December 2017. Your firm will not be reflected as having PII in place on the Society’s ‘Find a firm’ online search facility until the Society has received the required online confirmation of cover.
The guide to renewal for the 2017/2018 indemnity period was published on the Society’s website on 1 November 2017 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.
Renewal resources for the 2017/18 indemnity period are available to download from the Society’s website at www.lawsociety.ie/PII and include the common proposal form, PII regulations and minimum terms and conditions, Participating Insurers Agreement, and relevant PII practice notes. The information available is frequently updated as more documentation becomes available.
Financial strength rating
The Society has introduced a new minimum financial strength rating requirement from a recognised rating agency for all participating insurers in 2017/18 of BBB (S&P, Fitch) or equivalent. The recognised rating agencies are Standard & Poor’s, Fitch, AM Best, and Moody’s. The Society also has the power to waive the minimum financial rating requirement for participating insurers, subject to such terms and conditions as the Society deems fit, such as provision of a suitable parental guarantee from a rated parent company. 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.
Notification of claims
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 2016 and 30 November 2017 (both dates inclusive) should be notified by the firm to their insurer by 30 November 2017. It is proper practice for firms to notify insurers of claims or circumstances during the year as they arise, not at 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 this change is retained in the minimum terms and conditions for 2017/18, 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 2017 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 2012/13 indemnity period and remains in place for the 2017/18 indemnity period.
Amendments were made to the Run-off Fund under the 2016/17 regulations, which will come into effect on 1 December 2017, to increase the level of compliance of firms in the Run-off Fund with the Special Purpose Fund Manager with regard to claims and membership of the Run-off Fund. Under these new provisions, three levels of run-off cover have been introduced, with effect from 1 December 2017, depending on the compliance of run-off firms:
- Compliant run-off firms will have cover in the Run-off Fund with the same minimum terms and conditions as those that exist in the market,
- Non-compliant run-off firms will have reduced cover in the Run-off Fund with the same minimum terms and conditions as those that exist in the market, with the exception that there will be no cover for claims by financial institutions,
- ARP run-off firms will continue to have cover in the Run-off Fund at the same level that exist in the ARP, with aggregate cover and no cover for claims by financial institutions.
Further information on changes to run-off cover provisions can be found at www.lawsociety.ie/PII.
The Run-off Fund provides run-off cover for firms ceasing practice that have renewed their PII for the current indemnity period, 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 2017 is required to renew cover for the 2017/18 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 at www.lawsociety.ie/PII.
The Society continues to operate the PII Helpline to assist firms in dealing with PII queries. The Law Society’s PII helpline is available from Monday to Friday, 10am to 4pm, to assist firms with PII queries – telephone 01 879 8707 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.