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Immigration consultants’ insurance: who’s right?

04/02/2015

Creative Commons UK passports surrounded by Euros by Christopher Elison_Flickr

Easy come, easy go 

Professional indemnity insurance is essential for immigration consultants. Not just because it's a risky profession – the OISC insists you have it. And you can't be an immigration consultant without OISC membership.

That's not a bad thing. The OISC are a great source of advice when it comes to navigating tricky rules and legislation. Plus they're sponsored by the Home Office, so you know the government's on your side.

Red tape 

But, a quick look at gov.uk reveals a load of regulations for immigration consultants to stick to. This one puzzled us a little:

"If a client isn’t satisfied with the immigration advice and services provided, they’re entitled to raise their concerns with the regulated organisation... OISC strongly recommends that advisers also include in that letter information about their PI insurance. 

They go on to say that OISC members should include the following statement about their PI in any letters to disgruntled customers:

"The purpose of PI is to cover any compensation we may need to pay to correct a mistake or to cover any legal costs due to negligence, misrepresentation and/or inaccurate advice which may cause, or contribute to, financial or other loss to the client."

Hmm ...

What's the problem? 

Technically, nothing. It just goes against insurers' usual advice.

Telling unhappy customers you have PI insurance, and that it can pay them compensation, could encourage them to claim against you. Even if you've done nothing wrong.

And that makes insurers nervous.

Having said that, professional indemnity insurance is by no means something you need to keep secret. Some clients might even be cautious about working with businesses without it.

You do need to keep your level of cover to yourself, though. Most insurers insist you don't reveal this to anyone. If an unhappy customer knows you have £5m of PI, don't be surprised if they (conveniently) allege you've cost them £5m in damages.

Fail to keep your level of cover to yourself, and your insurer is within their rights to turn down your claim.

What to do? 

We can't tell you what to do on this one. You want to stay on the good side of both your insurer and the OISC. It's a bit of a pickle.

Your best bet is to contact your insurer, and see what they recommend. They’re the ones who'll be paying any claims, after all.

Plus, government regulations don't insist you tell customers about your insurance, they just strongly recommend it.

This may be a conundrum for you and your insurer to talk over, but as your broker, we can get in touch with them on your behalf if you'd like. Just give us a shout, and we'll see what we can do.

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