Computer Software Developers Professional Indemnity Insurance
As a software development professional, you and your small business are at risk anytime you are providing a professional service to a client. There are many reasons that a claim could arise that involves your business – day to day.
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Computer Software Developers Professional Indemnity Insurance Policy Highlights
How do Professional Indemnity insurers view the IT industry?
Professional indemnity insurance cover is necessary for computer software developers and it should be borne in mind that, because of the reliance many firms place on IT systems, the potential losses incurred by businesses may far exceed the cost of the IT project itself, and limits of indemnity need to be set accordingly. IT companies and the services they offer are not easy to categorise, largely due to the wide range of business and industrial environments in which IT professionals work.
Broadly speaking, work carried out by IT companies falls into one or more of the following areas:
- Packaged hardware/software provision
- Development of bespoke solutions
- Consultancy/project management
- IT recruitment
- Internet service providers
What do Professional Indemnity Insurers look for?
The central question is what would be the immediate financial and other consequences if data is incorrect or a system fails or becomes unavailable for any period of time. A lot depends on the precise function of the software and what commercial application it is being used for.
The main areas that give rise to litigation against IT companies are:
- Failure of the software/system to do the job for which it was intended (fitness for purpose).
- Failure to deliver the system on time.
- Failure to deliver the system to budget.
These can give rise to three types of claims:
- Client withholds or claims for return of the purchase price/fees paid
- Direct financial loss arising from the negligence of the IT Company
- Consequential loss
Insurers’ first line of defence is the written contract between the insured and their client. Insurers will often ask to see the insured’s standard terms and conditions. If smaller IT firms are asked to sign onerous contracts with larger customers it is important for the insured to understand the extent of cover offered to meet these contractual liabilities. Whilst cover for the first two types of claims mentioned above are available in the market, insurers expect that consequential losses will be excluded by the insured in their contract terms and conditions, or at least limited.
The prime underwriting criteria is of course what kinds of systems an IT professional is involved in. Areas that must always be disclosed to insurers include:
- Systems in the financial sector
- Games development
- Trading systems
- Process control systems
- ASPs (Application Services Provider) or ISPs (Internet Services Providers)
- Managed Service Providers
- Enterprise Resource Planners
- Large contract sizes
- Mission and safety critical systems
- Cases with US exposure
A software developer entered into a contract with a client to create a specific kind of software. They were tired and having a rough time with their personal life. Two years after the contract was signed they still hadn’t completed it, and it had a lot of mistakes. The client declines to take the software at this point and ends up hiring another software developer to complete the software. Since the contract was breached, the client sues and wants to be reimbursed for the entire amount of the contract. The amount of the contract was £600,000 plus damages for wasted money spent over the two years they were waiting for the software. There was a clause in the insurance policy that said each contract would only be liable for £25,000. Unfortunately, this was deemed unreasonable and unenforceable, and the client ended up being awarded £1,400,000.