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Insurance for engineers

16 November 2015
Construction kit DaveBleasdale

Risks ahead

Buildings crumbling, roads buckling, bridges collapsing …

These might sound like scenes from a disaster film. But for consulting engineers, they’re the stuff of nightmares.

Luckily, reality is usually much less dramatic than that. A designer misinterprets your renderings and orders the wrong materials. An employee slags off your client and gets accused of slander. A hapless visitor to your offices trips over a loose cable and gets injured.

Each one of these scenarios could lead to a claim being made against you. Nobody dies, the world isn’t engulfed in flames  – off-screen, anyway. But mistakes have been made, damages caused and someone’s got to pay.

Protect yourself with professional indemnity insurance and you can at least be sure your business is left with a solid foundation even if your best-laid plans do start to crumble.

Disaster relief

Engineering mistakes are notoriously hard and expensive to fix (especially when they’re structural).

A must-have tool for all engineers: professional indemnity insurance. It’s the ultimate reputation saver, with deep pockets and legal advice thrown in for good measure.

Professional indemnity insurance for engineers makes up for a multitude of sins, including negligence (in layman’s terms, a mistake you’ve made or something you’ve failed to do) and breach of duty of care.

Depending on the policy wording, you’re also covered for:

  • Intellectual property infringement
  • Defamation
  • Misstatement and misrepresentation
  • Employee dishonesty
  • Passing off someone else’s work as your own
  • Breach of confidence and misuse of information
  • Breach of duty of care referred to under the Housing Grants Construction and Regeneration Act 1996

Sounds pretty solid, doesn’t it?

It’s also worth being aware of what your policy doesn’t cover. Advice on the investment of client funds, for example, construction and erection work, failure to provide accurate estimates, noise pollution, etc. If that’s something you’re likely to be involved in, contact our team so they can add an extra level of cover to your policy.

Don’t forget, if your engineering business has one or more employees, you’re also legally required to have employers’ liability insurance, protecting your staff from workplace injuries and illnesses.

Risk management

As an engineer, there’s rarely a project you face that comes without risk. That’s something you can’t control. But there are some things you can do to lower your chances of getting hit hard by a claim:

Build up a picture of your risk. Carry out some basic risk assessment before you take out your policy. Think about what you do, who you’re doing it for and what it’s worth. What’s the worst mistake you could make and how much would it cost to fix?

Get the right level of cover. Larger, more complex engineering projects will obviously need more. Our advice is to always buy as much as you can afford. If that sounds a bit vague, this guide will help you crunch the numbers and figure out exactly how much you need.

Read the small print. Clients often specify a certain amount of insurance before you start your work. This could go up during the construction phase of your project, so check your contract’s terms and conditions carefully.

Look at the people around you. Engineers who work with a number of different professionals (like designers, architects, surveyors and construction workers) are riskier to insure – you’re more likely to share the blame if things go wrong. Keep your insurer in the loop on what you’re working on (and who with) so they can adjust your policy if needed.

Second-guess yourself. Keep your equipment in good nick, keep in line with safety measures and you’ll obviously limit your chances of encountering a claim. But, with ‘due diligence’ often built into your policy’s Ts&Cs, you also increase the chances of your insurer paying out. Talk about killing two birds with one stone.

Get cover for past mistakes. Sometimes it takes years for engineering problems to emerge. Cracks appear, materials deteriorate, values decrease – before you know it, you have dissatisfied clients crawling out of the woodwork. Add retroactive cover to your policy and you’re covered for past work regardless of your policy’s start date. Sorted.

For engineers’ insurance that’s built to last, check out our insurance packages or start by building your own.

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