Modified changes to professional indemnity insurance arrangements for accountants in the UK have been instigated following a consultation process, including the withdrawal of an extension of non-cancellable run-off cover and insurers having to meet unpaid excess.

The International Underwriting Association (IUA) had strongly disagreed with suggestions firms should have non-cancellable run-off cover of six years.

The  Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) Regulatory Board issued the consultation last year and included changes to the minimum level of insurance cover and maximum excess, expanding the amount of mandatory insurance firms must take after they cease to practice and making insurers liable in some situations even if the insured firm did not pay.

The new arrangements will apply to policies taken out or renewed from 1 September 2024 and industry experts recommend checking with a broker to ascertain how changes will impact on individual polices and to ensure there is sufficient time to prepare renewal this year.

The main changes are:

The minimum limit of indemnity will increase from £1.5m to £2m.

For firms with a gross fee income which is below £800,000, the limit will be two and a half times the firm’s gross fee income, subject to a minimum of £250,000 (this is an increase from £100,000).

Larger firms with gross fee income over £50m will not be required to put in place ‘qualifying insurance’ but must have in place appropriate arrangements which will be monitored. (Currently this approach is available to firms with 50+ principals.)

For firms that will be required to put qualifying insurance in place, the maximum aggregate excess should not exceed the higher of £3,000 or 3% of a firm’s gross fee income.

The ICAEW said: “We want to avoid making changes that reduce the number of participating insurers as this could negatively impact competition or introduce measures that adversely affect the availability of insurance. We also want to maintain the viability of the Assigned Risk Pool, which offers insurance to firms who are unable to source open market cover.”

Christopher Jones ACG, Director of Legal, Underwriting and Claims at the IUA said: “IUA member companies underwrite a significant majority of professional indemnity insurance cover for accountants, auditors and other professionals subject to ICAEW regulation.

“We were pleased to participate in this review and strongly support its broad aims of providing clarity on what compliant insurance for accountants look like and to ensure appropriate liability protections are retained.

“The revised proposals will benefit firms and consumers. They are thoughtfully constructed to prevent both a reduction in the number of insurers providing cover and ensure that insurance premiums continue to be a reasonable cost for accountants.”

The IUA backed proposals to link cover to the fee income of a firm rather than the number of partners it has. The IUA had also criticised proposals for insurers to pay claims without guarantees that they will receive any policy excess payments due. It said both of these plans would have had a significant impact on the availability and affordability of insurance for many accountants, especially smaller firms.

To discuss this further with a broker at W Denis, please make arrangements with Daniel Moss at daniel.moss@wdenis.co.uk or on 0044 (0)113 2439812 or contact Mark Dutton at mark.dutton@wdenis.co.uk or on 0044 (0) 7831 366 469. 

Specialist contact

Mark Dutton

Executive Director / Group Head of Broking & Business Development

T. +44 (0) 7831 366 469

E. mark.dutton@wdenis.co.uk

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