Surveyors' professional indemnity insurance
The risk of making a mistake is all too real, and its consequences potentially very damaging for both you and your client. Even small miscalculations and wrong measurements can lead to big claims.
If things go wrong, your client will want you to pay. They might throw in a negligence allegation against you too, just for good measure. In any circumstances, defending yourself is necessary, time-consuming and very expensive.
Surveyors' professional indemnity insurance pays your legal costs, fights your corner and compensates your client. You get to keep running your business and, with any luck, get to keep your client too.
A great result – by any measure.
Let's face it, there's a lot that can go wrong.
And it's likely just a small mistake will be a big deal. Did you spot that crack in the wall? Have you double-checked your rent review calculations are accurate? Have you got the time to properly manage that project?
Aside from the fact that all chartered surveyors have to have PI, being involved in such potentially risky activities means you could face an expensive and troublesome legal fight if something goes wrong. Have you got the time, money and expertise needed to clear your name?
The question really should be: why don't surveyors need professional indemnity insurance?
Possibly. But you should prepare for the fact that it might not be easy. Or cheap.
Insurers are very wary of firms that do, or have done, lending valuations. Since the start of the financial crisis, 87% of properties have been sold at a loss. Lenders are losing an estimated £53,000 per property and it’s the surveyors who take the blame.
Residential valuation claim settlements average £40,000. This is why insurers think long and hard about offering cover for valuation work, even if you no longer do it.
We have direct access to RICS listed insurers but that’s no guarantee we’ll be able to get cover. You’ll be asked for a lot of information about the what, when and how much of your valuation work. But even that might not be enough.
It's a good idea to use your firm's turnover as a starting point. Although RICS is a little vague when it states "the nature and extent of the insurance must be adequate and appropriate", it does at least recommend these minimum levels of cover:
|Last year's turnover||Minimum level of cover|
|£100,000 or less||£250,000|
|£100,001 to £200,000||£500,000|
|£200,001 or more||£1m|
RICS also recommends your cover is 'each and every claim' (the level of cover applies to each claim, rather than all accumulated claims) and 'full civil liability' (the policy covers civil matters rather than just your negligence).
Bear in mind that you can’t have too much cover. Defending you can cost many tens of thousands of pounds – and that’s before any compensation bill arrives. Obviously, it's better to err on the side of caution and get as much as you can reasonably afford.
It’s a tricky one to work out. Have a read of this guide or call us if you need more help.
Negligence claims and allegations made against you by clients and third parties, because of mistakes you’ve made and things you’ve failed to do.
Specifically (but depending on the policy wording):
- Intellectual property infringement
- Loss of documents or data
- Negligent misrepresentation or misstatement
- Employee dishonesty
- Virus transmission
- Breach of confidentiality
- Failure of third-party equipment
But that’s not all. Some professional indemnity policies can fix a mistake before your client is even aware of it, thereby preventing a claim in the first place.
Public liability insurance is for when you go out and about on business, or have visitors to your office. It’s for claims of physical damage to property and people. Useful if you’re clumsy.
Employers’ liability insurance covers your business if an employee sues it for damages. Claims are usually because they’ve suffered injuries and illnesses as a consequence of working for you. It’s a legal requirement for UK businesses with employees.
Office and property insurance covers the things in your office (furniture, plants, fixed IT equipment etc) and portable insurance covers gadgets and technical equipment away from the office (laptops, tablets, projectors etc). If you’re not sure it’s worth insuring, add it all up – it’s probably worth more than you think.
Business interruption insurance means you can still work when your office is out of action. Be it flood, fire or flea infestation, you’re covered for the costs of setting up elsewhere and for any lost revenue in that time.
Directors’ and officers’ insurance covers your company bosses. Anyone from regulators to shareholders to competitors can accuse you of not running a business with due care. Worse, directors are personally liable for their actions. The good thing is this insurance covers your defence costs and any compensation you have to pay. So you can put away your chequebook.
Glad you asked.
The simple answer is: we know what we're doing. Professional insurance is all we do so we know what you need, even if you don't.
We also know that buying insurance can be, well, a bit of a pain. So we make sure getting yours is quick and hassle-free.
We do all that while treating you like a human being, too. You won't find a call centre here. Or a phone menu. And we've banned nonsense insurance jargon.
Plus, every insurance-related question you can think of is answered in our School of Risk, and you'll get our quarterly risk advice email – 'The Waggle' – to help you avoid problems in the first place.
If you're after a second opinion, have a look at our customers' feedback. They're the ones you should really listen to.