People move for all sorts of reasons – work, family, the chance of a better life. But upping sticks and relocating to another country can be difficult and draining.
You already know it doesn’t take much to throw a spanner in the works. Paperwork is extensive and immigration laws change all the time.
Admittedly, the chances of something going seriously wrong are low. But, if the worst happens – your client’s documents go missing, or their paperwork is riddled with mistakes – your client’s going to want answers. If they’re out of pocket because of it, they’ll want compensation too.
If this happens, you’ll need to rely on something more than just your good name to fight your corner. Something more like professional indemnity insurance.
Computer says no
If your client’s application is denied – for any reason – the Immigration Act 2014 has made it harder for them to appeal. If that happens, frustrating delays combined with an emotionally trying time make for frayed tempers and a blame culture. That’s when the negligence accusations start.
You might think (or you might know) you haven’t done anything wrong. But here’s the rub: a solicitor’s letter can’t be ignored and allegations of negligence have to be dealt with regardless.
Professional indemnity insurance for immigration consultants is designed to deal with such situations. It covers your mistakes or negligence, as well as things like slander and defamation, breach of confidentiality, and loss of documents or data.
Once your claim is approved, it’s in the hands of your insurer. So you don’t have to worry about defending yourself in court, or forking out for any compensation or damages you owe.
Business as usual
The OISC recommends you have at least £250,000 professional indemnity insurance cover.
Whether or not you need more depends on what you do and who you do it for. If you offer advice to central government or big businesses, for example, be prepared to up your level of cover.
But of course, not having to call on your policy at all is best. These pointers will go some way to helping yourself before your cover needs to:
- Go through your client’s care letter with them before they sign. This minimises the chances of later disputes over things like timeframes, costs, and copyright.
- Provide your client with regular updates. The OISC recommends these be given at a minimum of every three months. Important news, like the outcome of a client’s application, should be made in writing within three working days.
- Make your client aware of any additional costs. If you have to use a third party (eg a translator) make sure you have your client’s written consent before you arrange to use them.
- Keep your contact details up to date. Fail to inform your clients of an impending holiday or office move and you could find yourself missing crucial documents and correspondence.
- Stay on top of your paperwork. This includes keeping records of all interactions between you and your client. Also, make sure you can whip out a current business plan and cash flow/funding projections, just in case the Commissioner asks for them.
While you’re here, you might want to look into other types of insurance too. Consider them forms of business protection, and not just another insurance policy you have to shell out for. You’ll save a lot more money in the long-term, knowing your business can keep going without the burden of mounting bills.
For example, office and property insurance protects the things in your office from fire, flood or theft, while portable equipment insurance is for anything you take off-site (laptops, mobile phones, etc). Public liability insurance protects you against bodily injury and property damage claims and is useful if you regularly go to your client’s office.