Norwich at the centre of legal indemnity
PUBLISHED: 11:28 24 April 2019 | UPDATED: 11:28 24 April 2019
Copyright Archant Norfolk 2015
Ian Mellor, a solicitor and head of office at DUAL Asset Underwriting explains the central role that Norwich plays in the national legal indemnity industry.
There will be few who work in the property industry not familiar with the insurance products taken out against risks identified by lawyers when a property changes hands or is to be developed.
Many legal practitioners in the East Anglia region will also have noticed, whether in the small print found at the bottom of a policy or perhaps the email signature of the underwriter they've been corresponding with, a Norwich postal address. Few though will be aware of the role Norwich has played and continues to play in this specialist line of insurance.
The products most familiar to property practitioners are the specific risk policies that help property owners and developers manage legal risks identified by their lawyer during the due diligence process. These cover a range of issues such as lack of planning/building regulations, breach of restrictive covenants, or absence of easements.
Underwriters working out of Surrey Street in Norwich in 1990s were pivotal in the development of these products, and it was this innovative product development and underwriting that led to Norwich Union becoming the market leader. However, it wasn't long before others looked to enter a new and growing market, and looked to Norwich with its already rich pool of talented underwriters to set-up offices. This clustering effect continues today; DUAL is the most recent entrant having set-up its growing office in Norwich just three years ago.
Norwich's role in the legal indemnity market is as strong now as ever. There are in the region of 100 underwriters based in Norwich and that number continues to grow. These are highly skilled jobs where a deep understanding of a broad range of risks is required. My team can be looking at anything from an access issue for a property outside Inverness, to rights to light issues for the next new office building to greet us at Liverpool Street.
Norwich also continues to be at the centre of innovation in the industry. It is where our new online portal was developed allowing law firms to obtain quotes from major insurers in seconds. The platform is set to revolutionise the market again, as the website not only reduces the time lawyers spend obtaining quotes, but also helps firms ensure they are complying with the new SRA rules brought about through the new Insurance Distribution Directive.