Interview with Paul Buckle of Jelf
Paul Buckle is Managing Director of Schemes and Affinity insurance partnerships across the UK business of Jelf. With over two decades of experience in underwriting and broking companies, Paul has wide-ranging expertise at a senior level with his specialisms including interesting and hard to treat risks which require a unique approach.
In this interview, Paul tells Today’s Wills and Probate about what professionals should look for in a professional indemnity insurance provider as well as his thoughts on the Law Commission proposals.
So Paul, can you tell us a bit about Jelf?
Jelf is an award-winning financial consultancy and insurance broker and is part of Marsh & McLennan Companies (MMC). We provide expert advice to both businesses and individuals on matters relating to insurance, healthcare, employee benefits and financial planning.
We are also committed to providing outstanding levels of service for our clients, who are at the centre of everything we do. Working closely alongside them enables us to understand their business needs and individual circumstances. From this position, we recommend bespoke solutions from our broad range of products and services that mitigate risk and add value.
Do you work across the whole of the market?
We operate across the whole insurance market. Basically, if it’s insurable, we can insure it. We also invent different kinds of new insurance where an industry need has emerged.
What should new companies/professionals look for when choosing their Professional Indemnity Insurance (PII) provider?
Expert knowledge and understanding from the provider is vitally important. In addition, there are also things pertinent to the actual policies on sale as well. Despite the common perception that PI policies are all very similar, there is a lot of variety in the policy wordings and cover can actually vary a lot.
I would not recommend trying to buy cover online as this is a specialist area, with certain activities being excluded. Will writers are also estate planning practitioners and often do more than simply take instructions or draft wills. In light of this, will writers should check that their policy includes a wide range of relevant additional activities such as inheritance tax planning and advice pertaining to trusts. What many will writers do not fully comprehend is that their liability does not end when they stop writing wills. Because of the “claims made” nature of most legally biased insurance policies, a will writer must be insured at the time a claim is made against them, irrelevant of when the advice or document pertaining to that claim was provided. The advice and the document they have drafted may not be read for many years to come and a will writer is liable for their past work even if they have ceased will writing activity. For this reason, it is important to ensure that your advisor is able to arrange “run off” cover, which will provide cover for the will writer as long as it is required. Not all insurers will offer the cover so it’s worth checking out before buying a policy. SWW offers lifetime cover for their members using the insurance scheme, provided they have been participants in the scheme for at least two years.
What does the future of the PII market look like?
This depends on a lot of different things. If you are a solicitor, the cover can be expensive, especially for smaller firms or those engaged in activities that attract claimants (conveyancing etc). Prices can vary wildly, and the insurance environment is often very claims driven. For anyone insured by an industry focussed insurance scheme (such as SWW’s Member Insurance scheme), where the activities undertaken by the estate planning professionals are very well understood, prices can be predictable. For example, the SWW scheme has had the same premiums for 7 years, the only variation to cost being the increase of Insurance Premium Tax.
What do you expect to happen if the Law Commission proposals to update the law surrounding wills become regulation?
People have increasingly complex lives, often involving more than one marriage and set of dependants, so attempts to simplify the division of assets upon death should be welcomed if they make estate planning easier, less burdensome and more accessible.
There have been many proposals put forward by the Law Commission. To choose one, the security of electronic wills must be a concern, following the various high-profile attacks on computers, as well as the risk of fraud or menace due to the ability of hackers to intercept documents. Encryption and safe electronic storage will be areas to carefully consider, as will access to the electronic document itself. An electronic will is no use if it cannot be recovered, and access may be required many years after it has been electronically stored.
Do you think that practitioners should be considering any kinds of insurance?
Yes, cyber cover should be considered, especially where highly personal and sensitive information is stored on computers. As we have seen with the WannaCry attack, data has been hijacked and held to ransom, forcing the business of the victims to be interrupted. Furthermore, with the new GDPR Regulations coming fully into effect in 2018, the potential for data breaches sets a new level of financial risk for will writers. If data is stolen and published, businesses risk significant fines. Insurance policies need to adapt to face these additional risks on behalf of policyholders.