Tetbury Advertiser October 2013
Last week I was driving my son, Alex, down to Chippenham station so that he could go to Court in Bristol before making my way to the office. He is a barrister and has to be insured against negligence. I asked him what his premium was. He told me he insures through the Bar Insurance paying £108.00 for cover of £500,000. I told him that my cover was for £2,000,000 and I had had an offer of £42,500 for the annual premium. Barristers get off lightly. Preparing for the annual Profession Indemnity round each year is highly stressful because, for small firms like mine, the market is extremely limited. We need our Professional Indemnity Cover to enable us to practice. Generally, we pay the first £5,000 on each claim and leave it to the insurance company to pay the remainder. For the last four years we have had no claims or hints of claims against us at all. 2008/2009 was a bad year because having taken over our Tetbury office in 2006 I did not know my staff well and some of the problems went back to 2003, but despite that our record is quite good apparently.
Insurers do not like firms that carry out property work. At the moment theyare being difficult because they don’t know what is going to arise out of the Gordon Brown boom. They believe is that there may have been a lot of shoddy conveyancing carried out before the collapse of Northern Rock in 2007 and the mistakes will come home to roost when these properties are sold in 2014. Many insurance companies will not look at solicitors who carry out conveyancing representing more than 30% of their turnover. In our case it is 44%. They also don’t like small firms because of the potential consequences of death, disappearance or bankruptcy of the principal. Most insurance companies that we have had to deal with in the last forty years have been onto a winner with us and yet we still have to toil hard to obtain cover. At the moment I am trying to impress on the insurance companies that none of my present staff have ever had a claim successfully launched against them and consequently the premium should be reduced. In the meantime, insurance brokers continually inflict us with offers of a better deal than their competitors whilst the insurance companies themselves seek minute details as to how we run our business with information going back 6 years. If you employ us, you will be inflicted with terms of business and a complaints policy, but what I try to instil on my colleagues is the need to think carefully what is included in these documents and edit them to assist our clients in achieving their goals rather than a proforma to keep our regulators at bay. They can be useful in stating our common objectives which are difficult to assess for depressed or distressed clients