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Master Policy renewal – what’s in the pipeline

19 August 19

A reminder of what you can expect in the run-up to the Master Policy renewal for November 2019, and the challenges in the PI market for this year and beyond

by Gail Cook

The Master Policy continues to underpin the profession in Scotland, and work within Lockton is nearing completion in preparation for renewal this year. 

Renewal

We have some good news for this year. First, the three year premium deal was triggered for 2019, the final renewal year of the deal. That means that the global premium, i.e. the total premium that insurers require from the profession, will reduce from £16.55 million to £16 million. The second piece of good news is that while we have made some aesthetic changes to improve the user experience, the process for firms is unchanged from last year.

As it’s an annual process and November 2018 feels like a long time ago, we thought it might be worth providing some reminders of what to expect and the actions you need to take within your firm. 

What will you need to do? 

Review your claims 

You should by now have received from insurers, RSA, the claims “snapshot” for your firm as at 31 May, the cut-off date for claims for the renewal in November. New claims or developments in existing claims or circumstances after 31 May will not affect your 2019 premium calculation.

Action: You should review this claims information and make sure it reflects your own understanding of the correct claims status as at that date. If you believe that a claim should be shown as “closed” or a reserve amended, you should make representations to RSA at the earliest opportunity. 

Logging in to the online portal 

We are continuing with the online process for this renewal and you should have received your renewal invitation during the first week in August.

Action: Once you receive our renewal communication you will need to log in to your portal via the Lockton Scottish Solicitors website www.locktonlaw.scot. Your user name is your practice’s principal contact’s usual email address, as previously. If you have forgotten your password, simply click “password reset” and you will receive an email to enable log in. 

Complete the online renewal proposal form

We have pre-populated some parts of the form again for you this year, e.g. principals, contacts and address details. Completing the firm’s financial information is the part of the proposal form that causes firms most difficulties, year after year. However, this information is critical to the insurers’ understanding of the profession’s risk profile and we continue to require details of your total fee income for the most recently completed financial year, and an estimate of total fee income for the current financial year. We will also continue to seek a breakdown of your fees by area of practice.

Action: You need to check the pre-populated information and make any necessary amendments to bring it up-to-date. Early preparation of the financial information will assist in ensuring a smooth and quick completion of your proposal form.

What’s staying the same? 

Rates and rating factors

The 2019-20 rates and rating factors will soon be finalised and made available to logged-in users of the Lockton website. While the premium per principal will change, the process for calculation of each firm’s premium will be the same as last year.

Communications you will receive

As mentioned, you should have received notice from us during the first week of August that the online renewal proposal form is “open”, and guiding you to supporting materials such as the Guide to the Master Policy and the 2019-20 rates and rating factors. Quotations will be issued starting Monday 2 September 2019. We will provide reminders and tips on the completion and submission process between August and November.

You will also be able to obtain quotations for Master Policy top-up insurance, fidelity and cyber cover using the information submitted within your proposal form.

Access to all Master Policy documents

All documents – proposal form, quotations and policy documentation – will be available via the online portal. This year you should find it easier to print your Master Policy quotation if you need to share it with your colleagues in the firm. 

What is changing?

The professional indemnity market 

Many of you will be aware from clients or colleagues in England & Wales of the changes which have taken place within the UK professional indemnity market in the last year. We are in a hard market, which means that the number of insurers in the market is reducing and those insurers that remain are becoming increasingly selective in the professions for which they will provide cover. Premium rates have been increasing significantly. 

For the 2019 Master Policy renewal, the profession in Scotland is shielded from the vagaries of the market because of the three year deal negotiated following our appointment in 2017. 2019 is the last year of the premium deal and it will be important to demonstrate to insurers that the risk profile of the profession in Scotland is an ever improving one. 

Top-up insurance

Given prevailing conditions in the insurance market, for those of you who purchase additional top-up professional indemnity cover over and above the Master Policy, there are almost definitely going to be premium increases. Also, insurers may look for more information or take longer to reach their underwriting decisions. Therefore, we would urge firms to start the renewal process as early as possible. Leaving things to the last minute could make finding suitable cover difficult. 

The hard market and its impact on Master Policy renewal in the future

The risk management activity which has taken place within the profession in recent years has been communicated to insurers and they understand the effort which is being made to improve the profession’s risk exposure in Scotland. A continuation of the profession’s engagement in risk management and driving further improvements is vital and will help Lockton to negotiate the best possible deal with insurers for the future. The improvement in the claims picture in recent years is of course incredibly helpful in these negotiations, but insurers will want to see tangible efforts from the profession to ensure that claims levels don’t increase. 

Immediately following the 1 November renewal, Lockton will begin work on negotiating the premium for 2020 renewal and beyond. 

Some final tips for a successful renewal 

Some tips for a smooth renewal process:

  • Start gathering the financial information for the Master Policy proposal form as early as possible.
  • Don’t leave it to the last minute to submit your proposal information to Lockton, especially if you buy top-up cover. 
  • Don’t forget that you need your Master Policy cover in place before you can renew your practising certificate with the Law Society of Scotland.
  • Do contact the Lockton team if you have any queries regarding any part of the renewal process.
Gail Cook is a client executive within Lockton’s Master Policy team. She has 30+ years’ experience in the field of professions underwriting and risk management and is one of the main Lockton contacts for risk management matters. She can be reached on 0131 345 5571 or gail.cook@uk.lockton.com 

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