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How much does professional indemnity insurance cost?

02/10/2019

How much your professional indemnity insurance costs increases in line with the risk your business presents.

One of the most common questions we’re asked is: 'How much does professional indemnity insurance cost?'.

The words ‘piece of string’ and ‘how long’ leap to mind here.

It's a tricky one to answer quickly because there are no hard and fast rules. How much you pay depends on a lot of things.

But, professional indemnity (PI) insurance is just like any other insurance. The price reflects the risk.

So what’s ‘high risk’? Or ‘low risk’? How do you know if that’s you? Why does it make a difference to what you pay? And what can you do about it?

Things that affect your professional indemnity insurance cost

If you’ve bought PI insurance, public liability insurance or employers’ liability insurance before, it's likely you’ll have answered some questions about your business.

Insurers use your answers to get the facts about what you do and work out how much to charge.

To do that they consider:

Your annual turnover and fees

Generally, the higher this figure, the more your insurance costs. It’s an indication of the value and volume of business you do.

It’s simple numbers really: the more work you do, the greater the chance of a claim. And the greater the chance of a claim, the more insurers charge.

Contract values

High-value contracts mean high settlement figures if things go wrong. Professional indemnity insurers consider both your contract fee and the value of the contract as a whole.

Let's say you charge £3,500 to work on a contract worth £50m. If there’s a possibility (however slim) your negligence could scupper that entire contract, you'll pay more to reflect the risk of being sued not only for your part of the project but for the whole £50m.

What you do

The industry you’re in, the advice you give, the companies you work with and the service you offer all make a difference.

Some professionals have a fundamental, higher exposure to risk than others. This could be because, historically, claims are common or because the potential financial consequences of a claim make insurers nervous. 

For example, premiums for a training consultant (low risk) start at a much lower level than those for a structural engineer (high risk). That's because training consultants are less likely to be sued for negligence in the first place and, if they are, the value of the claim will be much lower.

Either way, the insurer is looking at a safer bet with the training consultant and will, therefore, charge them less.

The level of cover

The easiest one to fathom. Fairly obviously, £5m worth of cover costs more than £50,000 cover. That's because in the first instance, a claim could leave the insurer facing a bill for £millions rather than £thousands. They’ll charge you more to make sure they can cover the amount, and to reflect the extra exposure.

You

As in, the person or people behind the business. Are you a 'professional professional'? Do you have relevant experience and qualifications? Do you have signed terms and conditions with every contract? How is your business structured? What risk management do you do?

Insurers are by no means moral guardians but they do have an interest in who – as well as what – they're insuring.

How you can help with your professional indemnity insurance cost

These things, individually and collectively, make a difference. They have a bearing on an insurer’s view of what and who they’re insuring, and how much to charge.

Bear in mind that insurers are a cautious bunch and they like a bit of hand-holding. Anything that makes them more comfortable with a risk is a good thing.

If you can, always demonstrate your competence and show them that you’re doing your bit to avoid claims wherever possible.

You'll find it benefits you as much as them and could even influence how much your professional indemnity insurance costs.

Image used under license from Shutterstock.

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