What can go wrong?
Architects’ claims often involve negligently designed structures which need remedial work or rebuilding in order to fulfil their intended purpose. If a design is modular, errors can be replicated over several buildings. In addition, new technologies and materials in building design are creating new exposures, the results of which may not be known for many years. Claims also arise from failure to oversee the project and planning disputes.
Architects are required by the Royal Institute of British Architects(RIBA) and the Architects Registration Board (ARB) to buy compliant professional indemnity cover, the latter recommending a limit of at least £250,000 although most firms will buy significantly more than that. Limits are normally provided on an Any One Claim basis with costs in addition.
Because it can take many years for problems with architectural work to come to the fore, the active policy needs to cater for work done in the past and if a practice ceases, a firm should buy run-off cover.
What are insurers looking for?
Experience and claims record first and foremost but they’ll also want to know instructions from clients are signed off in writing and a professional code of practice is actively followed.
They’ll want to know which sectors the practice works in as the potential consequential losses in some (for example retail) will be high, or may be affected by stringent building controls requiring specific expertise – like food processing and healthcare.