Professional Liability Insurance for Architects can be somewhat overwhelming and confusing. There are so many business insurance options available. As an Insurance Agent, I've seen a lot of them. In fact, I sell a lot of them, but there's one I really like. Travelers 1st Choice for Design Professionals is the policy I would consider if I were an Architect. And, no, this is not a paid ad and Travelers is not paying me anything to write this article. In fact, they don't even know I'm writing this article. Anyway, this particular Professional Liability Insurance for Architects really delivers when it comes to protection and value added services. As far as comparing a policy, it's easy to get caught up with price, retention and policy limits to do an apples-to-apples quote, but consider the risk management resources below for your business. Travelers can not only be competitive on premium, but also hit a home run with the resources below.
Training Webinars from an Experienced Industry Leader
Founded in 1853, Travelers has been around a long time and knows what it takes to be successful in this fast paced digital economy. They understand their success depends on your businesses success, that is why they created a program for Architects and other Design Professionals. The program consists of quarterly risk management webinars for businesses to help mitigate risk. Some insurance companies may have the same webinars, but I doubt they can bring the value that Travelers does. Travelers webinars typically will have someone with an architect or design professional background and a law background not an underwriter afraid to go off script. In addition to the education, you will also get credit when you participate in them. Again, other carriers will offer this, so I would ask to hear a sample webinar. If you are going to have to listen to a webinar, you want to make sure you are getting something out of it.
Pre-Claims Phone Number
Having a resource available before you have to file a claim can be of huge value. Take for example a property owner and general contractor are in litigation due to a faulty structure and you are called on to make a statement. There's no claim, so the insurance company cannot respond. Pre-claim assistance can be very valuable in this situation. Without this, your only other options are consult with your attorney or blindly make your statement. Both of which could be very costly in the long run. Some carriers may also offer pre-claim assistance, but does the carrier have the experience and reputation that Travelers does? These are just a few questions I would ask.
Another set of eyes to look at a contract never hurts. At the end of the day, the contract is going to be an extremely important, if not most important, document when it comes to doing business. Having an industry leader take a look at it never hurts. Not only will they review the contract, but they will do this at no cost to you.
Again, I want to reiterate, I get nothing from Travelers for writing this post. Yes, I do represent other "A Rated" carriers and they offer some of these risk management value adds as well, but I feel Travelers has the complete package when it comes to Professional Liability Insurance for Architects and other Design Professionals. Design Professionals include:
Commercial Insurance Agent
Why is my landlord requiring me to have Business Insurance? I get this question a lot since lease terms can have many insurance details. Some of which new business owners or veteran business owners are not familiar. Below are a few insurance coverages your landlord might require you to have when you sign a lease.
General Liability Insurance
Your landlord has their own General Liability Insurance to cover their exposure and business. Meaning, their insurance company has a full understanding of what they do. They do not know what the tenants do, so they are not going to cover a risk they know nothing about. Since the building owner could be brought into a potential lawsuit, they are going to want you to have this coverage in force upon lease execution. In addition to having General Liability Insurance, they may also require you to have them, the landlord, listed as an Additional Insured and have a Waiver of Subrogation on the policy.
If there's a fire, and your business isn't operational, you most likely won't be able to pay rent, so your landlord may also require you to have Business Interruption/Business Income. This coverage could be a specific amount or ALS (Actual Loss Sustained).
Business Personal Property
If a loss occurs on premises, your landlord is going to want you to have insurance for your property. Business Personal Property is going to provide this coverage this coverage.
Employees get injured. The last thing a property owner wants is to be brought into a lawsuit for an injury that occurred on the premises. To reduce this exposure, they might require the tenant to have a Workers Compensation policy. Although it's not required in Texas, they still might want you to have it.
Other requirements I have seen, A+ Rated Carrier, Waiver of Subrogation, Tenant Glass, and Umbrella. If you have any questions about these coverages, please feel free to call or email me. When signing a lease, you have a lot to deal with as far as requirements go, we are here to help with the Business Insurance.
Commercial Insurance Agent
Engineers have a lot to contend with when it comes to Business Insurance and claims. The reality is, no business or person is perfect, so accidents do happen, and given the litigious society we live in today, claims come with those unforeseen accidents. It's important to have the right policy in place for coverage, but it's also good to have a plan in place to reduce insurance claims. Once you have a contract in place, here are 3 Ways Engineers can Reduce Insurance Claims.
1. Quality Control: Another set of eyes on your work.
Some people do not like to have others check their work, however, it can go a long way when you do. After all, we are all humans, and none of us are immune to human error. Engineers are under a tremendous amount of pressure these days when it comes to projects. Have a senior person, or qualified person, within your organization check your work. If that is not possible, consider the services of a qualified consultant. Yes, this might be an additional cost to the project that could cut into profits or add more time, but it's better to be safe than sorry. Two sets of eyes are better one.
2. Communicate. Keep the lines of communication open and manage expectations.
The last study I read, communication was the number one reason for engineering claims in the industry. This isn't surprising since another study showed the number one thing clients want from design professionals and engineers is, you guessed it, better communication. Review and manage the scope or work, schedule of work and the cost of work with your client. Find out the clients preferred form of communication and secondary form of communication. If there are problems, respond proactively and promptly. Make sure to return phone calls within 24 hours (obviously earlier the better), even if it's just to say you are still working on it. Let them know they haven't been forgotten by simply telling them, I haven't forgotten about you. I know when people tell me this, I appreciate it. Nobody likes to feel like they've been forgotten.
3. Document. Document. Document.
We've all heard this one before, but it's always a good reminder. Always document when you've presented or discussed the scope, schedule, cost and/or any other important information. Things change, make sure to document them. It's easy to forget phone conversations these days when we're taking a call while driving or multitasking. Request an email for any changes. Always consider what is really being asked and do not give an off the cuff answer. If they are major changes to the project, request a meeting. After the meeting, send a follow up email titled "Action Items" with documentation of the change in scope of work and ask the client to confirm receipt of the email.
These are just a few things that might help reduce insurance claims. If you would like more information on ways to reduce claims, please let me know. Be aware that contractors will most likely go after the design professional if they are brought into any kind of law suit, so it's very important to try to reduce your exposure. We represent insurance carriers that offer training on this subject, and other value-added services, your firm will benefit from. Some of these services include webinars and contract review. If you are not getting this from your current carrier, you should ask your agent or broker why. We work with a lot of engineers when it comes to Business Insurance and would be happy to help with your needs. Be sure to read Insurance for Engineers for more information related to this subject.
Always remember, failing to plan is planning to fail. And hope is not a plan.
Commercial Insurance Agent