The most lavish and inspiring designs might wow the watching world, but even the most famous architects can have claims made against them. Professional indemnity can help.
So many issues can affect the work completed and advice given by architects.
You could make a mistake with the architectural plans and drawings you complete for a client. You give advice, but you fail to identify a potential issue that ultimately impacts on the client’s development. Or you give negligent advice on general architectural matters that affect other contractors attached to the project.
There are many scenarios where your actions could hit a client in the pocket. When a project begins, during the planning process and right through to wrap-up, your clients will rely on you to provide expertise and outstanding service. Because of the high value of many modern developments, expectations are sky high.
There is no room for error.
Professional indemnity insurance is a vital consideration for architects, as for all businesses that give advice or deliver professional services to other businesses and partner organisations.
In a nutshell, Professional Indemnity (PI) Insurance can provide the necessary back-up and insurance cover in the event that one of your clients claims to have lost money because of negligent advice given, the service you provided, or the designs you completed for them.
PI can help to cover legal fees and any compensation payments that might arise, where the compensation takes into account the financial loss that the client believes they have incurred.
Do Architects Need Professional Indemnity Insurance Immediately?
Under Standard 8 of the Architects Code of Conduct, all architects should hold adequate insurance that covers you, your practice and your employees. As an architect, you should ensure that your professional indemnity insurance is adequate to meet a claim, whenever it is made.
Put simply, the Architects’ Registration Board states that you should have professional indemnity insurance. From a commercial viewpoint, most potential clients will almost certainty expect to see such cover as part of your proposal to undertake work on their behalf.
Be Careful What You Say!
Like most small businesses, you are proud of your work. If a client accuses you of wrongdoing or sloppy standards it’s natural that you react. However, think before you speak – or reply!
How and where you respond could lead to trouble. A social media post could be misinterpreted. Your client could accuse you of defamation or libel. That could reduce your ability to practice and become a very expensive process during legal proceedings.
What triggers the claim could be something simple, but still something that affects the client financially.
With extensive focus now on General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), using any client data should be done with extreme caution. An unintentional breach of confidentiality (like sharing something confidential, or distributing sensitive client details without consent) could be costly if the client takes action.
Sometimes an apology is not enough. Professional Indemnity is the back-up you need.
Finally, it’s a common misconception that a completed project means that claims can no longer be made against you. That is not the case.
If you cease to practise as an architect, you should make arrangements for continued insurance to cover you. This is because claims can be made at a later date for work undertaken whilst you were actively working on client projects.
Also known as “run-off” cover, this form of professional indemnity provides cover against claims made against those insured under the original policies when client work was completed. It will reimburse any losses occurring should claims be upheld against the insured parties.