Why Architects Need Professional Indemnity Insurance
Britain has a superb reputation for producing architects that are recognised internationally for their exceptional skills and abilities. This partially explains why architecture is such a popular area of study and workers in the building design sector now more common than dentists! Unfortunately there is an ever-growing threat which every architect needs to be aware of during their professional undertakings; litigation.
Sued Even if Your Buildings are Fantastic
professionals are well aware that if you are negligent in your duties and an unsatisfactory result or unfortunate accident occurs due to your incompetence, legal action is an almost inevitable outcome. Unfortunately architects can also be sued for slander, infringing copyright or even losing a vital set of plans at the wrong time. You would be amazed (and horrified) at the number of activities for which you can be held liable. For this reason a comprehensive public indemnity policy is absolutely crucial.
It’s Not Just Clients That Can Sue
one of your stellar designs ends up developing a fault then litigation is virtually a certainty. In addition to private legal action from clients, there is potential for simultaneous criminal legal and also private action from individuals other than your client who suffered injury due to your building’s structural deficiencies. You might also face legal action from another architect, particularly if you’d used their sketches to illustrate your own plans. These scenarios befall architects regularly, so it’s essential that your public indemnity cover provides adequate legal cover to ensure you can afford adequate representation.
Even Your Friends Can Sue You
you’ve kindly undertaken some pro bono work to help out a relative, or charged “Mates rates” to put together the planning application for your friend’s extension, then beware! You can be held liable for any work done which falls within your professional remit, even if you received no, or limited, payment for it. To guard against unwelcome action, ensure your insurance is designed to cover all professional work you undertake, not just that undertaken for your employer.
Great Designs Can Still be the Subject of Legal Action
Your professional work may be flawless in terms of aesthetic appeal, safety and sustainability, but if the development suffers extensive delays as the construction team are unable to translate your grandiose schemes from paper to bricks and mortar you can still be the subject of legal action. Desperate clients and developers frequently struggle to pin the blame for inflated project prices on someone other than themselves and architects can be the unwilling victims in these situations.
Retirement is Not the End
You might think that when you’ve laid down your pencil for the last time, enjoyed your farewell party and begun to plan your post-work life that you would be safe from litigation enthusiasts, but that’s certainly not the case. If you designed a building which runs into problems a few months down the line, you can be sued even if you’re no longer working for the company employed to undertake the work. This is why most architects have “run off” cover as part of their indemnity policy, to provide protection in precisely these circumstances.
As people find ever more creative ways to litigate, it’s imperative that every architect takes the time to invest in a comprehensive PPI policy which will shield him or her in the event of a claim. Once in place, a suitable policy brings peace of mind and enables you to concentrate on becoming the next Pritzker Prize winner rather than worrying over potential law suits.