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Berkley adds PI offering to Steadfast's online trading platform

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Berkley Insurance Australia now offers its Professional Indemnity (PI) product on the Steadfast Client Trading Platform (SCTP), in addition to General Liability which has been available since it joined the online marketplace three years ago.

Berkley says the PI offering is aimed at miscellaneous professions where the annual premium is generally under $10,000 and that don’t require a lot of underwriter attention. The professions that fall under this group include consultants, managers, educators and travel agents.

“The great thing about the way Steadfast has designed their SCTP… is that the system is able to ask different underwriting questions based on the occupation of the business,” CEO Tony Wheatley said.

“This means that we are also able to write risks [for professionals] such as accountants, real estate agents and construction professionals.”

Berkley is providing capacity of up to $20 million for the PI offering which can be completely automated for a variety of occupations and businesses.

The insurer says it expects the PI product to be as well received as its other SCTP offering, General Liability.

“In the last three years Berkley Insurance Australia has a proven track record as the clear leader on the SCTP for General Liability,” Mr Wheatley said. “This is directly attributed to our team who continually look at improving the online broker experience.

“By adding Professional Indemnity to the SCTP we can offer even more flexibility to Steadfast brokers with competitive commission and high limits.”

The PI line has been tough in the last few years, marked by sharp rate rises as insurers’ risk appetite deteriorated because of a high claims ratio.

Mr Wheatley says Berkley’s aim is to maintain rate increases at modest levels to ensure the business allows for increasing costs and provide a level of certainty for customers.

“I do think the PI market is harder and more so in certain professions than others,” Mr Wheatley said. “Market results of the PI business have been poor for many years following nearly two decades of soft market conditions.

“This almost unique reality we have of hard and soft markets in the insurance industry does not work to anyone’s favour over the long term.”

He says large accounts have driven a significant amount of losses but they are not the only sector that has been hit.

“There have been plenty of articles written around certain aspects of the building professions, financial advisers and financial institutions generally,” Mr Wheatley said.

“These losses are substantial and have the effect of discouraging capacity. At [Berkley] we have had a growing portfolio of SME PI for many years and whilst we have had our challenges we have not needed to react to a frequency of large claims.”