Whatever your specialism or industry, as a surveyor your work helps your clients to make the right decisions regarding the condition, quantity or value of their assets (often all three). Unfortunately this means your mistakes can sometimes have serious financial repercussions. The 2008 financial crisis for example, saw a huge rise in claims against surveyors who had produced home valuations.
Surveyors’ insurance policies typically cover negligence in addition to accidental injury to third parties and employees, and will protect you against both justified and nuisance claims plus any legal fees associated with these. Here’s our guide to the types of insurance available to surveyors in the UK, along with details on where to obtain quotes and what to look out for in order to ensure you are properly protected.
- What types of insurance does a surveyor need?
- Does a surveyor need insurance?
- Chartered vs. unchartered surveyor insurance
- How much is surveyor insurance?
- Where to get Surveyors PI insurance quotes
Surveyors 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 surveyors. 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.
Surveyors PI insurance is perhaps the most important component of any insurance policy for surveyors who produce any report, assessment, recommendation or valuation. If you are a RICS chartered surveyor you will be required to hold a minimum level of cover as a condition of your chartered status. Here are some examples of claims against surveyors that can be covered by professional indemnity insurance for surveyors:
- Errors in reports
- Failing to spot signs of damage or wear
- Making a decision without consulting the client
- Using outdated or unsuitable methodologies
- Giving poor advice
- Failing to anticipate a potential issue
- Incorrect or unrealistic valuations
Professional indemnity insurance for surveyors is sold on a claims-made basis, which means you're only covered for claims made while your insurance policy is still active, not for claims made after your policy has expired or been cancelled. Why? A client might not discover an error you made until years after a project was completed.
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.
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 decide to retire or take a break, a surveyor still needs "run-off" professional indemnity insurance, in the case of RICS surveyors with a run-off period of up to 15 years. Why? A client can sue a surveyor for negligence even after their death, in some cases for up to 15 years following completion of the work.
What Insurance Should a Surveyor Have?
In addition to professional indemnity insurance, a surveyor might also need other common types of business insurance such as public liability or employers' liability. Here are descriptions of some of the major types of insurance an architect might need.
Public Liability Insurance for Surveyors
Protects against accidents involving the public
Public Liability insurance protects a surveyor against claims of property damage or bodily injury by a client or other member of the public—for example, slips and falls in your place of business or whilst visiting a site.
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: Whilst carrying out a site survey a member of the public trips over your total station’s tripod leg, falling into oncoming traffic and sustaining severe injuries. They sue you for compensation
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 surveyors. EL insurance covers legal costs and compensation payments you're found liable for if an employee becomes ill or is injured at work and sues as a result.
- Employers' Liability Example: Your employee falls from height whilst taking photographs for a dilapidation survey. They sue you for compensation, stating that their safety training was insufficient for the job.
Business Equipment Insurance
Protecting your business equipment
Business Equipment Cover can help protect your computers, surveying equipment 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: Your office is broken into and your equipment stolen. You can claim for replacement of the missing equipment in order to allow you to continue trading.
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.
- Personal Accident Example: You slip and fall down a steep stairwell, breaking your leg. You claim for the weekly benefit during this period and use it for taxi fare as you are unable to drive.
A surveyor’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 Surveyors Need Insurance?
Yes, responsible surveyors need business insurance, with RICS chartered surveyors requiring a minimum level of professional indemnity as a condition of their RICS membership. Whether you work as a sole trader, subcontractor, in partnership or as the director of a company, your business is likely to have contractual obligations to hold certain insurance policies, but even if it does not, relevant insurance policies should be seen as a minimum safety net to keep the business running in the event of any unforeseen losses or claims.
If you work as a subcontractor, employee or agency worker it is important you get written confirmation that you are covered under your employer or agency’s insurance policy. If not, consider purchasing your own cover as a matter of urgency.
Chartered vs. unchartered surveyor insurance
Insurers offering insurance policies for chartered surveyors must provide a minimum level of cover in order to conform with RICS and other surveying bodies’ minimum insurance conditions. This means that you will typically pay a higher premium for ‘chartered surveyor’ policies. The trade-off is that RICS compliant policies are usually very comprehensive and include additional protections not usually bundled with ‘non-chartered’ surveyor policies.
There is no rule which says a non-chartered surveyor cannot purchase a RICS suitable policy, and if you are looking for a high standard of cover this should be considered. If you are not chartered and your policy is RICS compliant, you can also discuss a reduction in cover with insurers which may allow you to access lower premiums, but be aware this will likely reduce your level of protection and you should carefully consider any trade-offs in policy coverage before deciding to downgrade cover.
RICS Surveyor Insurance Requirements
According to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, the minimum level of PI insurance a RICS chartered surveyor should have is £250,000 for businesses with turnovers under £100,000, rising for businesses with higher turnovers. The cover must be “adequate and appropriate” for the business, which is something to discuss with insurers with particular reference made to business risks undertaken and contractual obligations.
Rule 9 of the “RICS Rules of Conduct for Firms” (set to change[link on_current="true" url=" https://www.rics.org/uk/upholding-professional-standards/standards-of-conduct/rules-of-conduct/ " title="title" nofollow="true"]soon) states that “A firm shall ensure that all previous and current professional work is covered by adequate and appropriate indemnity cover that meets standards approved by the Standards and Regulation Board”. These include:
- A minimum limit of indemnity as set out in rule 9 depending on turnover
- Cover issued on an any one claim or aggregate plus unlimited round the clock reinstatement basis
- RICS minimum policy wording (or more comprehensive basis) with full civil liability being a minimum required level of cover
- Fully retroactive cover, including cover for past and present employees
- Underwritten by a title
Fire Safety Coverage
RICS also acknowledges that obtaining professional indemnity without fire safety exclusions is difficult in the wake of the Grenfell tower disaster and subsequent claims in the insurance industry relating to cladding and fire safety, and states that compliance with RICS rules of conduct will be determined taking into account “market availability of cover for fire safety and any advice received from the firm’s insurance broker”. In short this means RICS (and even non-RICS) surveyors should keep records of any correspondence with insurance brokers regarding the suitability and extent of professional indemnity cover relating to fire safety claims.
Surveying work can be 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 surveyors can be claimed against years or even over a decade after providing professional services.
How Much Does Surveyor Insurance Cost?
The cost of public liability insurance and professional indemnity insurance for a surveyor is heavily dependent on the industry, policy requirements and experience of that surveyor or firm, with premiums starting as low as £500 for a land surveyor’s policy and rising to up to 30% of the turnover of a large surveying firm dealing in valuations and high risk construction projects.
If you go for a higher coverage limit on your insurance your premium will go up, but not by 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 a surveyor’s public liability and professional indemnity insurance:
- Size of contracts
- Business structure (sole trader, partnership, limited company)
- Involvement in project management or design / non-traditional surveyor activities
- Types/levels of survey provided
- If you work with Asbestos or fire safety
- Claims history
Ultimately, the total cost of business insurance for a surveyor will also depend on which additional coverages you need. For example, surveying firms with employees will pay employers' liability insurance premiums. And many surveyors will also pay public liability insurance premiums since they have in-person interactions with clients. Certain types of surveying activity require a much greater investment in specialist business equipment, so these surveyors can also end up paying a high proportion of either tools or office contents insurance.
Where to Get Surveyors PI Insurance Quotes
Whilst it is possible to obtain quotes through comparison sites for a range of surveying activities, as the risk of your work increases it becomes increasingly likely that you will need to call insurers directly, or obtain the services of an insurance broker. Bear in mind that if you are a member of RICS your policy must be provided by a title and meet the additional rating criteria of either B+ or higher from AM Best, or BBB from Standard & Poor.
We've supplied a list of brokers that we believe work with surveyor 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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Yes, surveyors need insurance. While they may want any number of different types of cover, professional indemnity insurance is probably the most critical as it is the most likely source of claims against a surveying business providing consultancy or advice. Public liability insurance is also critical for surveyors having any in-person interactions with their clients or other members of the public. And employers' Liability insurance would be required by law for a surveying firm with any employees. These are just a few of the types of business insurance an architect might need.
Surveyors need PI insurance to protect against claims of negligence or mistakes from their clients, but also in order to remain compliant with RICS or other chartering body requirements. Covering the cost of incorrect estimations, advice or other services can be incredibly costly in the construction industry, so PI insurance is needed to protect both clients and surveyors. This is also why surveyor professional indemnity insurance costs can be relatively high compared to some other professions.
Yes, surveying firms of all sizes face risk and need insurance, from self-employed (sole trader) surveyors to larger limited companies. In fact, a self-employed surveyor may benefit from insurance even more than a larger firm, as it ensures they can continue to trade and generate an income whilst insurance companies handle claims on their behalf.
Yes, professional indemnity insurance is arguably the most important policy for any surveyor. It covers defence costs and compensation payments for negligent advice or service that you provide as a surveyor.
Professional indemnity insurance in the UK covers surveyors 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 surveyors, 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 surveyor who has held professional indemnity whilst trading should strongly consider run off insurance if they cease trading, as claims can be made against surveyors for up to 15 years after the work has been completed. If you are a RICS surveyor you are required to obtain suitable run off insurance if you cease trading.
A surveyor who stops practicing should hold indemnity insurance for a minimum of 6 years after ceasing trading as a basic precaution against historic claims, with 15 years being the period recommended by the RICS for its members.
Surveyors need professional indemnity insurance to protect against claims from clients who claim that the surveyor's advice or service resulted in a financial loss for the client. For example, a client could claim that a negligently completed survey has resulted in their purchase of a house which turned out to require far more work than expected, and claim for the additional costs of work against the surveyor.
Architect Employment and Earnings Statistics
According to live jobs reported on reed.co.uk, chartered surveyors earn an average of £51,250 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.
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UK Surveyor PI Insurance Brokers
|Surveyor Insurance Brokers||Postcode||Telephone|
|Advanced Insurance Consultants Ltd||HP1 3AA||T: 01442 242 400||[email protected]|
|Alan Boswell Group||NR1 1UL||T: 01603 218000||[email protected]|
|Alice Castle Ltd||EC3A 8AA||T: 0207 1861633||[email protected]|
|AON Group Ltd||Essex SS12 9AZ||T: 01268 764141|
|Apex Insurance Brokers||BS1 2AW||T: 0117 3250027||[email protected]|
|Arthur J. Gallagher||NE1 3DX|
|Bland Bankart (UK) Ltd||LE2 7EX|
|Bluefin||BS1 3AG||T: 0117 929 33 44||[email protected]|
|Brunel Professional Risks||BS1 6JG||T: 0117 325 2224||[email protected]|
|Building Design Insurance Bureau||CM2 0JZ||T: 01245 494744|
|Butterworth Spengler Professional Risks Ltd||L13 1EH||T: 0151 494 4400||[email protected]|
|Cavendish Munro||E1W 1UN||T: 020 7265 5145||[email protected]|
|ConstructaQuote||CF83 3HU||T: 08081 68 68 68||[email protected]|
|Edgar Hamilton Ltd||E14 9NN||T: 020 7712 6000|
|FirstCity Partnership Limited||E1 6BX||T: 0207 410 5670|
|Get Indemnity||E1W 2SF||T: 0345 625 0711||[email protected]|
|Giles Insurance Brokers||B2 5YB||T: 0121 200 4921||[email protected]|
|Griffiths and Armour Group||L2 0RL||T: 0151 236 5656||[email protected]|
|Hammond Professional Indemnity Consultants Ltd||B1 1TT||T: +44 (0)333 222 4257||[email protected]|
|Hera Indemnity Ltd||EC3V 9LJ||T: 0207 868 2497||[email protected]|
|J.M. Glendinning (Insurance Brokers) Professional Risks Limited||LS20 9LT||T:01943 876631|
|John Heath (UK) Ltd||CW2 6BG||T: 01270 252 252||[email protected]|
|Liability Insurance Broker.co.uk||WA16 8GS||T: 01565 756115||[email protected]|
|Lockton Companies LLP||EC3A 7AG||T: 020 7933 0000|
|Macbeth Insurance Brokers||RG7 4AB||T: 0118 9165 480||[email protected]|
|Martinez & Partners Ltd||RG24 8GT||T: 01256 355656|
|Marsh Ltd||NR1 3QQ||T: 01603 207385|
|McParland Finn Ltd||M1 3DZ||T: 0870 855 6440|
|Meadow Broking Limited||RG1 7EB||T: 0118 33 00 241||[email protected]|
|New Dawn Risk Group||EC3A 4AA||T: 020 3668 2821||[email protected]|
|Northern Alliance Brokers Limited||WF5 9TP||T: 01924 232910|
|Paul Evans ACII, Chartered Insurance Broker||NG21 9PR||T: 0845 431 0448||[email protected]|
|Perkins Slade Ltd (Chartered Insurance Brokers)||B15 1BQ||T: 0121 698 8000||[email protected]|
|PI Expert – Professional Indemnity Insurance||TN22 1QG||T: 01825 745410||[email protected]|
|Pinsure Limited||BN5 9SL||T: 01273 494914||[email protected]|
|PolicyBee LLP||IP10 0BJ||T: 0345 222 5370|
|Premco Financial||EH12 5EQ||T: 0131 623 6231||[email protected]|
|Prime Professions||EC3M 7BS||Te: 020 7173 2100||[email protected]|
|The Professional Indemnity Company||CH4 0NR||T: (0845) 257 5192|
|Professional Insurance Agents Ltd.||BN22 7HB||T: +44 (0) 1323 648000||[email protected]|
|RIAS Insurance Services Ltd||EH4 2HJ||T: 0131 311 4292|
|RIBA Insurance Agency Ltd||EC3A 7AH||T: 020 7560 3000|
|Senior Wright Indemnity Limited||EC3N 2EX||T: 020 7680 5763||[email protected]|
|Total Insurance Solutions||BD7 8ER||T: 01274 360210 / 01254 355533||[email protected]|
|Towergate Professional Indemnity||M1 3BE||0844 892 1789||[email protected]|
|Watson Laurie Limited||BL1 2PH||T: 01204 387111||[email protected]|
|Windsor Professional Indemnity Ltd||EC3N 2LU||T: 020 7133 1200|
|The Wren Insurance Association Ltd||SE1 9RR||T: 020 7407 3588|