The Public Guardian has negotiated the provision of an alternative cautionary service which should reduce cost, delay and complexity

The Public Guardian has been acutely aware of the length of time that many guardians have to wait before cautionary cover is confirmed (delaying them having full powers to act), and of the complexity of the application process and the cost of the annual premiums to the adult’s estate. In her article “The Cost of Guardianship” (Journal, March 2008, 26) the Public Guardian advised that she was negotiating the provision of an alternative cautionary service with HSBC Insurance Brokers Ltd.

This service, administered by HSBC Insurance Brokers and underwritten by Norwich Union Insurance Ltd, is available from 25 August 2008. It provides a simplified application process for all cases and particularly in estates below £500,000 where, by virtue of the court appointment process and the ongoing supervision of the Public Guardian, there will be an automatic presumption of suitability and the requirement merely to confirm minimal information. A more detailed application form will be necessary in larger estates but this, and the process, have also been simplified to allow a much speedier review.

Consequently HSBC Insurance Brokers will be able to issue confirmation of caution to the majority of guardians, by post, and to the Public Guardian, electronically, within two working days of HSBC’s receipt of a request. The Public Guardian has committed to issuing the certificate of appointment the following working day.

In addition the Public Guardian has been able to secure a fixed and reasonably priced premium scale, commencing at just £30 for estates of £5,000.

Guardians who are currently covered with an alternative provider may choose to switch to HSBC Insurance Brokers. If this is being considered the Public Guardian advises that this is dealt with at year end, as no return of premium will be offered if a guardian cancels their current premium part way through a year.

Although the Public Guardian has negotiated this new service, the contract for a bond of caution remains a matter between the individual guardian and the cautioner. Guardians are completely free to apply to whichever cautionary provider they choose. The Public Guardian is not paying for this service, nor receiving any payment.

In conclusion, it is hoped that this simpler, speedier and cheaper service will be of value in adult guardianship cases.

Sandra McDonald, Public Guardian

If you wish any more information about this new service please feel free to contact Clive Lissaman, Senior Manager, Legal and Protection Services, HSBC Insurance Brokers Ltd (t: 0845 5859 473; e: clive.lissaman@hsbc.com), or alternatively, the Office of the Public Guardian (t: 01324 678300; e:opg@scotcourts.gov.uk).

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