What's good for the planet is also good for business. The government estimates that by using resources more efficiently, businesses can save around £23 billion a year – just one good reason why more companies (us included) are going green and why environmental consultants are in demand.
But going paperless and signing up to renewable energy is the easy bit. Getting a firm grip on the UK's ever-increasing raft of environmental legislation is somewhat trickier.
Nevertheless, it's something the Environment Agency expects all businesses to get right. Get it wrong and they could soon find themselves in court being fined or prosecuted for environmental crime.
Sometimes it takes an expert to tell businesses where they are and what they could be doing better.
Straightforward enough, you'd think. And for the most part, it is. But there's always the thorny problem of what happens if it all goes wrong. What happens if you give the wrong advice or fail to do something, and your client is unhappy and poorer because of it?
Unsurprisingly, insurance is the answer. Here are four good reasons why you need environmental consultants' professional indemnity insurance:
1. Because you have a duty of care to your client
When your client hires you, they expect you to do a job and do it well – whether that's carrying out land contamination surveys or giving waste disposal advice.
Loosely defined, your duty of care is your responsibility, as a professional, not to cause damage that could be foreseen or avoided. Failure to do this is an open door to negligence claims against you.
Professional indemnity insurance is your back-up plan, covering you for various acts of negligence and breach of duty of care, as well as other useful things like misstatement, misrepresentation and transmission of computer viruses.
2. Because you haven't the legal expertise
It's likely you deal with some pretty heavyweight clients - a great boost to your business. But here's the drawback: the deeper your client's pockets, the quicker they'll be to flex their legal muscle and sue you for negligence.
Hiring a solicitor can cost tens of thousands of pounds (especially if you're after one that specialises in environmental law). Add on loss of revenue due to time spent in court and you could find yourself out of pocket very quickly.
PI insurance throws you a lifeline by covering your defence costs and appointing a specialist solicitor to defend you. Expert legal advice for just a couple of pounds a month? You can't beat that.
3. Because reputation is everything
The Environment Agency asks that all businesses – regardless of size – be aware of their environmental impact. The case is especially strong for those with a permit; in fact, the EA recommends they have a management system in place to keep them compliant.
Environmental legislation changes all the time and while it's intended to make sure businesses reduce their environmental hazards, it can be a bit of a minefield. Fact is, some of your clients will be better equipped to toe the line than others. The ones that aren't might just turn around and accuse you of giving them the wrong advice.
PI insurance is your first line of defence against any spurious claims. And, if it turns out you are in the wrong, it covers the costs of compensating your client and fixing your mistakes – whatever it takes, in fact, for you to walk away with your integrity intact.
Reputation is everything at the end of the day. Lose it and you could be left without a business to run.
4. Because you need someone who speaks your lingo
You offer a specialised service to your client. If things go south, you need to speak to someone who knows what you're about and where you're coming from.
Buy a professional indemnity insurance policy and you get the protection, expertise and priceless advice only a specialist insurer can give. Because they already understand the potential problems and pitfalls of your job, they'll know how best to handle your case.
Follow a few ground rules to keep your insurer sweet and you can rest easy knowing they're ready and willing to fight your corner. Sometimes just knowing you're in safe hands, really makes all the difference.
Feel free to take a look at one of our insurance packages for environmental consultants for starters or, if you'd prefer to talk your options over with one of our team, give us a call.