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UK Architect Insurance: PI Requirements and Quotes

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Whether you design homes, apartment complexes, restaurants or other buildings, even a skilled, experienced and careful architect can make mistakes. And if something goes wrong during the design or construction process of a building project then the architect can be found liable. For example, a client can sue their architect for financial loss due to project delay while building regulations are complied with or planning permissions are obtained, or if a building has to be partially demolished.

Both new construction and refurbishments can cost a client a significant amount of money, so an architect can face a significant financial loss if they make a mistake. Architect insurance can help protect you against risks specific to the profession, such as clients claiming breach of duty or negligent advice (PI) to injury claims made by employees (employers' liability), and more. Here's what you need to get started with understanding what types of insurance you need as an architect in the UK.

Architects Professional Indemnity Insurance

Manage the risks of giving advice

Professional Indemnity (PI) is one of the most important types of business insurance for professions that are paid for their professional advice, such as architects. PI can protect you and your business financially against claims from clients seeking damages as compensation for losses they've incurred due to your professional advice or service. PI insurance covers legal defence costs (e.g., professional legal fees and expenses incurred in defending or appealing a claim) and also compensation payments you're found liable to pay through the final decision of a court or arbitration or settlement.

Architects PI insurance is a critical component of cover for architects and any profession where you provide expert advice. In fact, the Architecture Registration Board recommends that architects have a minimum PI coverage limit of £250,000 for each and every claim. Here are some examples of claims against architects that can be covered by design build professional liability insurance for architects:

Examples

  • Errors in drawings or plans
  • Failing to obtain necessary planning permissions causing delays
  • Making a decision without consulting the client
  • Using different materials than those agreed, or specifying unsuitable materials
  • Giving poor advice
  • Failing to anticipate a potential issue
  • Failing to design within a project's budget
  • Recommending or using negligent subcontractors
  • Personal injury

Claims-Made Cover

Professional indemnity insurance for architectural designers is normally sold on a claims-made basis, which means you're only covered for claims if they are made against you while your insurance policy is still active. If your policy expires between completing the work and having a claim made, you will not be covered. Why? A client might not discover an error you made until years after a project was completed.

Professional Indemnity Insurance: You need to be insured both at the time of the alleged incident (when you did the work) and also when your client makes a claim against you.

If you let your policy expire or cancel it, you won't be covered anymore—even if the work you did occurred while your policy was active. For example, if you have professional indemnity insurance in 2020 but let it expire at the end of the year, then you won't be covered in 2021 if a client sues you for negligent advice you gave whilst you were covered in 2020.

Retroactive Dates

To enable policy holders to switch insurers without a gap in cover, a professional indemnity insurance policy will typically have a "retroactive date" that essentially backdates your cover to the date you first had uninterrupted cover even if with another insurer. If you are switching to a new insurer and have no gap in cover, then your retroactive date will be before the start date of your new policy.

If you have been trading with insurance for years, your retroactive date will always remain the date you first started trading, even on new policies and renewals. Make sure to check this is still the case if you ever switch insurer, as it can sometimes be missed. If you only find out about the omission years later it will be hard to reinstate the original date.

Run-Off Cover

If you decide to retire or take a break, an architect still needs "run-off" professional indemnity insurance for at least six years. Why? A client can sue an architect for negligence up to six years after the event (or five years if you practice in Scotland), or within three years of negligence being noticed. This is the typical civil court case limitation period for simple contracts.

It is becoming more common for clients to insist on collateral warranty agreements which require a 12-year run-off period for architects and other involved construction professionals. These agreements often take the form of a deed, allowing for the usual limitation periods to be extended to 12 years, or even changed based on clauses in the contract. Whenever you are asked to sign a collateral warranty agreement it is worth having a legal professional review the document to ensure you can then obtain the proper run-off cover in future.

What Insurance Should an Architect Have?

In addition to professional indemnity insurance, an architect might also need other common types of business insurance such as public liability or employers' liability, in addition to cover for any expensive equipment they need to carry out their work. Here are descriptions of some of the major types of insurance an architect might need.

Public Liability Insurance for Architects

Protects against accidents involving the public

Public Liability insurance protects an architect against claims of property damage or bodily injury by a client or other member of the public. It would also cover injury caused by your presence on a construction site should anyone become injured due to your presence there.

Public liability insurance provides access to legal experts to help you defend a claim, justified or not, as well as covering legal costs and compensation payments if you're sued and found liable. It's common to find limits of £1 million, £2 million, £5 million or £10 million in the UK marketplace for public liability insurance.

  • Bodily Injury Example 1: A client trips on a computer cable on the floor of your office. They fall and break their arm, suing for lost wages when they are unable to work.
  • Property Damage Example 2: You step into the path of a JCB whilst on site. The driver swerves into a completed building to avoid you. The site owner sues you for property damage to repair the building.

Employers' Liability Insurance

In case of workplace injuries

Employers' Liability insurance (EL) is compulsory for businesses that have any employees, such as office managers, assistants or other architects. EL insurance covers legal costs and compensation payments you're found liable for if your employee or subcontractor becomes ill or is injured at work and sues as a result.

  • Employers' Liability Example: An employee is injured while checking progress at a work site. They sue you as a result, stating that their injury was due to inadequate training.

Business Equipment Insurance

Protecting your business equipment

Business Equipment Cover can help protect your computers, 3D scanners and other specialist tools against loss or damage. While exact perils covered will depend on the terms of a policy, it's not uncommon for theft, accidental damage, fire, flood and storms to be included. If you take any equipment with you when you work away from your main business premises, for example to client sites, then you'll need extra cover to accommodate this added risk.

  • Tools/Equipment Cover Example: A fire in your place of business damages all of your equipment. You can claim for their value under your equipment insurance.

Personal Accident Insurance

Replaces income if you can't work due to injury

Personal Accident insurance can provide a financial benefit to you if a workplace injury prevents you from working—for example, if you're injured at a work site and are incapacitated as a result. Personal accident cover is a "benefit" (which means the premium is not a tax deductible business expense) and is usually paid as a weekly payout for a temporary injury (e.g., broken leg) or a lump sum payout for a permanent disability (e.g., loss of a limb). In essence, personal accident cover is meant to help you pay for your living expenses while you're unable to earn money as usual, or in order to pay for the additional costs of working whilst injured (e.g. for taxis used to travel whilst recovering from a broken leg).

  • Personal Accident Example: You trip and fall at work at a client's property, causing you to throw out your back. You're unable to work for a few weeks while you recover. You claim for the weekly benefit during this period.

Commercial Vehicle

An architect's car may need special insurance

Commercial Vehicle insurance is necessary for company-owned cars. And if you use your personal car to carry tools or equipment then you might need commercial cover. However if you simply drive your personal car between client sites then you might only need to declare business use on your regular car insurance. If you're unsure it's best to check with your insurance company or a specialist broker to explain how you use your vehicle to determine which type of vehicle insurance you need.

  • Commercial Vehicle Example: While an employee is driving your company-owned car to a client's project, they have an at-fault accident at an intersection. There's damage to both vehicles involved in the accident. A comprehensive commercial car insurance plan would cover the resulting damage.

Depending on your specific needs, there could be other types of business insurance that you might need for your architecture business (e.g., directors and officers, business interruption, legal expenses, etc.). Talk to a specialist insurer or broker if you are unsure of the business insurance coverage you need.

Do Architects Need Insurance?

Yes, architects need business insurance. Whether you operate as a sole trader or in a partnership or company, your professional work as an architect must be covered by a professional indemnity insurance policy—this holds if you are an owner or employee. You’ll either need your own insurance policy or to be covered under your employer's policy. If you're an employee or you consult for an agency, be sure you're covered by getting confirmation in writing.

Architect Insurance Requirements

According to the Architects Registration Board, the minimum PII limit of indemnity is £250,000 for each and every claim, but some architects will need a higher limit. How much cover you need will vary depending on factors like the size of your contracts and whether you're self employed or you own a firm.

Standard 8 of the "Architects Code: Standards of Conduct and Practice" lays out the professional indemnity insurance requirements for architects.

"8.1 You are expected to have adequate and appropriate insurance cover for you, your practice and your employees. You should ensure that your insurance is adequate to meet a claim. You are expected to maintain a minimum level of cover, including run-off cover, in accordance with ARB’s guidance.

8.2 The need for cover extends to professional work undertaken outside your main practice or employment.

8.3 If you are an employed architect you should, as far as possible, ensure that insurance cover and/ or other appropriate indemnity arrangements are provided by your employer.

8.4 When requested, you are expected to provide evidence that you have professional indemnity insurance in accordance with this Standard"

Architecture work is high stakes, with professional errors potentially costing clients thousands or even millions of pounds to remedy, so getting the right cover is critical. The right insurance can protect you and your business financially against claims that could otherwise have a devastating effect.

Even if a claim is unfounded, you will still need to pay to defend it—and legal expenses can easily run into the thousands of pounds to defend an unjustified claim. And an architect can be sued even if they had limited oversight during the construction phase of a project or the project developer overruled the architect's plans.

How Much Does Architect Insurance Cost?

The cost of public liability insurance and professional indemnity insurance for an architect frequently costs from around £900 a year, but prices can easily rise to tens of thousands of pounds a year depending on your turnover, contract size, types of work you do, business structure (e.g., sole trader, partnership or limited company), amount of cover you need, etc. (Construction insurance is also expensive, due to the dangers and high costs of fixing building mistakes).

If you go for a higher coverage limit on your insurance your premium will go up, but not by as much—the first £1 million of cover is the most expensive, with each additional £1 million of cover typically costing less than the previous £1 million. Here are some of the factors that will determine the cost of an architect's public liability and professional indemnity insurance:

  • Turnover
  • Size of contracts
  • Business structure (sole trader, partnership, limited company)
  • Involvement in project management
  • Types of structures (e.g., housing, public sector, rail, utilities, amusement rides, swimming pools, hospitals, etc.)
  • Types of work (e.g., alterations, new builds, landscaping, planning supervision, draughting services, etc.)
  • Location of work (worldwide costing more than UK only) and jurisdiction of contract
  • If you work with Asbestos

Ultimately, the total cost of business insurance for an architect will also depend on which additional coverages you need. For example, architecture firms with employees will pay employers' liability insurance premiums. And many architects will also pay public liability insurance premiums since they have in-person interactions with clients.

Where to Get Architects PI Insurance Quotes

Although there are a few insurance companies that work directly with architects, many architects opt to use a comparison site or broker to get professional indemnity insurance, in order to get quotes from a broader segment of the market. Brokers typically work with multiple PI insurance companies, which may only be accessed via a broker (that is, they won't work directly with customers). So not only do brokers have access to insurance providers, but they should have a feel for the market and be able to assist with your application. For example, a broker might know which insurers are most suitable for your particular business and therefore which to target. Architect PII is a specialised market and having a broker working for you can be a big help.

We've supplied a list of brokers that we believe work with architect PI insurance below. If you don't have a relationship with a broker or know any, you may want to get the quote process started by using a comparison engine. A search engine can send your details to multiple brokers who might be well suited to cater to your particular insurance needs. Fill out a quote form by clicking the blue button below to get started.

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FAQs

Yes, architects need insurance. While they may want any number of different types of cover, professional indemnity insurance is probably the most critical as its required by the Architecture Registration Board (with £250k minimum cover). Public liability insurance is also critical for architects having any in-person interactions with their clients or other members of the public. And employers' Liability insurance would be required by law for an architecture practice with any employees. These are just a few of the types of business insurance an architect might need.

Architects need PI insurance to protect against claims of negligence or mistakes from their clients and to remain compliant with the terms of their ARB membership. Remedying a construction problem caused by poor advice or service from an architect can be very costly, so PI insurance is needed to protect both clients and architects. This is also why architect professional indemnity insurance costs are relatively high compared to some other professions.

Yes, architecture firms of all sizes and types face risk and need insurance, from self-employed (sole trader) architects and architectural technicians to larger limited architecture companies. For instance, whether you're a sole trader or a larger company anyone providing architectural advice or design services needs professional indemnity insurance, plus they may need other types of cover as well. Learn more here.

Yes, professional indemnity insurance is arguably the most important type of cover for an architect. It covers defence costs and compensation payments for negligent advice or service that you provide as an architect.

Professional indemnity insurance in the UK covers architects for legal defence costs and compensation payments arising from clients who claim you gave poor advice that resulted in a financial loss (e.g., the cost of project delays or extra building costs whilst an error is remedied).

Any business, including architects, that interacts with members of the public—from clients to vendors—can be at risk of a bodily injury or property damage claims and should have public liability insurance.

Any architect needs run-off insurance to protect against professional liability claims that occur after a policy has expired or been cancelled. The requirements of most contracts state 6 years’ run-off as a minimum, but deed format collateral warranties often require 12 years’ run-off cover. If in doubt, have a legal professional review any collateral warranties before signing.

An architect who stops practicing should have run-off professional indemnity insurance for 6 years in the UK (5 in Scotland). If a collateral warranty agreement requires a longer period of run-off (up to 12 years), then this period overrides the 6 year limit.

Architects need professional indemnity insurance to protect against claims that the architect's advice or service resulted in a financial loss for the client. For example, allegations that an error in the drawings caused works to be partially torn down at great expense.

Architect Employment and Earnings Statistics

According to the latest Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE), architects earn an average of £46,116 a year in the UK, but pay depends on your experience level, the type of work you do, the type of business you run, how much you work and where you live. Here are some statistics on how much architects earn a year across the UK:

Architect Employment Statistics UK
Number of Architecture Jobs35,000
UK Average pay - Architects£46,116
UK Average pay - Draughtspersons£31,606

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UK Architect PI Insurance Brokers

Architect Insurance BrokersPostcodeTelephoneEmail
Advanced Insurance Consultants LtdHP1 3AAT: 01442 242 400[email protected]
Alan Boswell GroupNR1 1ULT: 01603 218000[email protected]
Alice Castle LtdEC3A 8AAT: 0207 1861633[email protected]
AON Group LtdEssex SS12 9AZT: 01268 764141
Apex Insurance BrokersBS1 2AWT: 0117 3250027[email protected]
Arthur J. GallagherNE1 3DX
Bland Bankart (UK) LtdLE2 7EX
BluefinBS1 3AGT: 0117 929 33 44[email protected]
Brunel Professional RisksBS1 6JGT: 0117 325 2224[email protected]
Building Design Insurance BureauCM2 0JZT: 01245 494744
Butterworth Spengler Professional Risks LtdL13 1EHT: 0151 494 4400[email protected]
Cavendish MunroE1W 1UNT: 020 7265 5145[email protected]
ConstructaQuoteCF83 3HUT: 08081 68 68 68[email protected]
Edgar Hamilton LtdE14 9NNT: 020 7712 6000
FirstCity Partnership LimitedE1 6BXT: 0207 410 5670
Get IndemnityE1W 2SFT: 0345 625 0711[email protected]
Giles Insurance BrokersB2 5YBT: 0121 200 4921[email protected]
Griffiths and Armour GroupL2 0RLT: 0151 236 5656[email protected]
Hammond Professional Indemnity Consultants LtdB1 1TTT: +44 (0)333 222 4257[email protected]
Howden Architects Insurance ServicesEC3A 7JB
Hera Indemnity LtdEC3V 9LJT: 0207 868 2497[email protected]
J.M. Glendinning (Insurance Brokers) Professional Risks LimitedLS20 9LTT:01943 876631
John Heath (UK) LtdCW2 6BGT: 01270 252 252[email protected]
Liability Insurance Broker.co.ukWA16 8GST: 01565 756115[email protected]
Lockton Companies LLPEC3A 7AGT: 020 7933 0000
Macbeth Insurance BrokersRG7 4ABT: 0118 9165 480[email protected]
Martinez & Partners LtdRG24 8GTT: 01256 355656
Marsh LtdNR1 3QQT: 01603 207385
McParland Finn LtdM1 3DZT: 0870 855 6440
Meadow Broking LimitedRG1 7EBT: 0118 33 00 241[email protected]
New Dawn Risk GroupEC3A 4AAT: 020 3668 2821[email protected]
Northern Alliance Brokers LimitedWF5 9TPT: 01924 232910
Paul Evans ACII, Chartered Insurance BrokerNG21 9PRT: 0845 431 0448[email protected]
Perkins Slade Ltd (Chartered Insurance Brokers)B15 1BQT: 0121 698 8000[email protected]
PI Expert – Professional Indemnity InsuranceTN22 1QGT: 01825 745410[email protected]
Pinsure LimitedBN5 9SLT: 01273 494914[email protected]
PolicyBee LLPIP10 0BJT: 0345 222 5370
Premco FinancialEH12 5EQT: 0131 623 6231[email protected]
Prime ProfessionsEC3M 7BSTe: 020 7173 2100[email protected]
The Professional Indemnity CompanyCH4 0NRT: (0845) 257 5192
Professional Insurance Agents Ltd.BN22 7HBT: +44 (0) 1323 648000[email protected]
RIAS Insurance Services LtdEH4 2HJT: 0131 311 4292
RIBA Insurance Agency LtdEC3A 7AHT: 020 7560 3000
Senior Wright Indemnity LimitedEC3N 2EXT: 020 7680 5763[email protected]
Total Insurance SolutionsBD7 8ERT: 01274 360210 / 01254 355533[email protected]
Towergate Professional IndemnityM1 3BE0844 892 1789[email protected]
Watson Laurie LimitedBL1 2PHT: 01204 387111[email protected]
Windsor Professional Indemnity LtdEC3N 2LUT: 020 7133 1200
The Wren Insurance Association LtdSE1 9RRT: 020 7407 3588

Comments

The guidance on this site is based on our own analysis and is meant to help you identify options and narrow down your choices. We do not advise or tell you which product to buy; undertake your own due diligence before entering into any agreement. Read our full disclosure here.