Architects Insurance

Architects in the UK have challenging and amazing careers. Most have incredible skills, which have a great influence on designing and planning buildings and surrounding areas. Many are self-employed or run a small business and use the latest in technological tools to carry out their trade at every stage of designing, supervising and constructing a site. Architects, whether self-employed or part of a team, need insurance to protect them from some of the challenges they face and to ensure cover for any issues that might arise should a claim be filed against them.

Finding the right, approved insurance broker for architectural needs is important because policies for architects
could involve areas like restoration, structural design, landscaping and more. All of these areas are in some way related to the complex construction industry. Like many other trades - Public Liability, Employers' Liability and Professional Indemnity Insurance are important pieces to an architect's insurance portfolio.

Public Liability Insurance

This insurance will most likely cover compensation and legal fees should you have to pay a claim made by a customer, third party or contractor because of property damage or accidental injury whether the service was performed in your office or at another site. For instance, if a customer sustains an injury because he slips on a wet floor on your premises, or if you accidentally spill water damaging a customer's computer in their office, these may result in claims filed against you. To reiterate, Public Liability Insurance provides your architectural business cover from most claims filed for damages or injuries to a third party if you deal with members of the public, have clients on your business site or in your home office or if you or an employee goes to a client's office for an appointment or to perform a service. Although Public Liability is not mandatory, most client's look for proof of this cover before allowing an architect to commence services. To carry out architectural services, minimum cover is £2 million; however, many in the business will choose cover for £5m or £10m for peace of mind.

Employers’ Liability Insurance

If an architect has an employee or employees, he is responsible for their safety as well as their health whilst they are employed. Should an employee be injured on the job or become ill during or after his employment, he could file a compensation claim against you. All UK tradesmen like architects are obliged to have Employers' Liability cover of £5 million. which will likely cover damages filed as a claim for injuries or damages made by an employee. It also includes cover for disease or injury an employee may have sustained whilst employed by you. Employers' Liability Act (compulsory) became a legal requirement of 1969, became a law in 1972.

Employers receive a certificate as proof of Employers' Liability Insurance, which must be clearly displayed for employees and inspection authorities to view. It states facts related to company coverage, names, rates, etc.

Exceptions or exemptions to Employers' Liability include family businesses (unless company is incorporated as limited), or the company is solely staffed by an owner who owns more than 50% of the company's shared capital.

You will need Employers' Liability if employees pay has National Insurance and income taxes deducted from their salaries and if you control how, when and where they work for you. If your employees work in the UK (offshore included), you need Employers' Liability cover as well. However, under British law, you don't need this insurance if your employee is considered on secondment or is based outside of the UK. These exceptions should be discussed with your insurance broker to clarify what you may be entitled to in the way of exemptions.

For those architects with clients, customers or partners who make regular visits to their home to conduct business, combined Public Liability and Employers' Liability Insurance policies are often combined as one. The combination of both insurances will probably save money because it's under one cover rather than two separate policies and will likely enable you to handle legal liabilities to the public or third party, whilst also include cover for your employees.

Professional Indemnity Insurance

Most architectures give advice every day. Should a client experience a financial loss because of the advice given, Professional Indemnity Insurance will most likely cover costs and legal fees for the claim against you. Personal Indemnity insurance is usually required by any client that chooses to do business with an architecture.

Cover designed specifically for architects may include compensation to customers due to problems with your work.
Depending on the limit of Indemnity you choose, legal defence will likely be covered and mistakes you made may be corrected and compensate for fees that your customer will not pay. Your Professional Indemnity Insurance should be compliant with The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), and the Architects Registration Board.
Most architectural businesses may likely be required to have a minimum level of Professional Indemnity. The amount should be discussed with your insurance broker and will usually be determined by the nature and size of your architectural business.

Product Liability Insurance

Those in the architectural trade often supply products or components of a product that they created. As a result, any person or third party who is injured by that product, even if it's years later, can file a claim against you. Any injury, loss or damage or illness resulting because of the product leaves you legally responsible. It could become a criminal offence under The Consumer Protection Act of 1987, because you may have supplied an unsafe consumer
product and not "fit for purpose," as defined by the act. This includes goods from the work place (machinery and chemicals), building materials, product components and raw materials. For example, you, as a landscape architect, may supply a client with trees and bushes for a yard, and the trees immediately die upon planting. You would be held liable, as could any business involved in the supply chain like manufacturer, supplier, distributor and retailer.

Choosing an Insurance Broker

Architect business insurance choices can become confusing and somewhat complicated. Taking time to research and choose a reputable broker specialising in insurance for the architectural trades is strongly advised. A good broker will likely have a variety of products and companies for you to consider. There is also a wealth of information available on various UK websites specialising in tradesman (architect) insurances. These websites will likely give information about the company, their rates, their cover and the packages they offer and recommend.

Remember that every insurance policy is different. ALWAYS read the policy carefully to make sure that it has the right cover for you!

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