Building the Right Coverage to Protect Your Business
Architects and engineers (A&E) face a multitude of dynamic challenges -- onerous contract clauses, constantly evolving technologies, morphing project delivery methods, and an increased emphasis on both sustainable and resilient design. We understand the complex risks that design professionals encounter daily and offer insurance products and consulting services to address your diverse exposures and manage your liabilities.
Our team members have robust industry backgrounds: several have defended A&E professional liability litigation, others have served as in-house counsel for ENR 100 firms, and others have served as professional liability underwriters or led claims teams at leading PL markets. Our clients lean on this expertise for far more than the insurance transaction itself, seeking our input on contract review and revision, loss prevention education, claims advocacy, and due diligence incidental to mergers and acquisitions.
Our geographic footprint spans the U.S., allowing us to deliver national resources locally, with an understanding of the regional issues that affect clients’ exposures. Such issues are considered when our seasoned experts provide insurability reviews and assistance in negotiating revisions that help clients avoid taking on uninsurable risk. We provide thousands of loss prevention education programs each year to clients and to local and national chapters of professional associations.
With solutions that cover nearly every risk, we can create a plan that protects you from the many exposures inherent to the design professions. Like other brokers, professional liability, property and casualty, executive risk, cyber, and benefits are among the custom solutions we offer. Unlike other brokers, we offer an unmatched depth of expertise. And our more than 5,000 design firm clients provide leverage with insurers that enables access to senior decision-makers with the discretion to provide insured-friendly decisions from both an underwriting and a claims perspective.
You need a partner with a deep understanding of the unique and ever-changing A&E risks. Together, we will lay the foundation for your success.
What factors should architects and engineers considered when comparing professional liability insurers?
With fast-evolving delivery methods enabled by ever-changing technology, design and construction projects have grown increasingly complex, and it is essential that your firm’s professional liability coverage be as broad as possible to ensure proper protection of your assets. There are more than fifty insurers writing A&E professional liability coverage, and policy forms vary significantly – some do and some don’t expressly cover potentially costly pollution incidents, for example, and the best insurers go way beyond covering traditional architectural and engineering services to expressly include ancillary services such as technical and environmental consulting, LEED certification, and BIM modeling services. Some professional liability forms provide bolt-on coverage for Cyber incidents and Technology Services, but depending on the nature of the services provided by your firm, a stand-alone Cyber policy may be far more appropriate.
In addition to coverage differences, it is important to consider an insurer’s approach to dispute resolution process – some provide “pre-claims assistance” to prepare for and mitigate potential damages without application of a deductible until such time as a claim is actually made. Others provide access to robust loss prevention education materials that can positively impact firms’ QA/QC protocols and qualify firms for premium credits. Consideration should also be given to an insurer’s reputation for “insured-friendly” handling of claims and whether they offer deductible credits to incentivize resolution of by way of mediation.
Obviously, design professional liability insurance is an expensive line item in any firm’s budget, and there are myriad factors that go into making sure you select an insurer that will do the right thing when it comes time to settle a significant claim. Risk Strategies’ team of specialists stands ready to ensure that you select your insurer(s) on a fully informed basis.
What factors should architects and engineers consider when comparing insurance brokers?
Architects and Engineers provide complex services within a very competitive environment. We believe that specialization is necessary to meet such firms’ risk management and insurance needs.
- Does the broker “speak the language," such that they recognize the implications of different project delivery methods on risk allocation?
- Can they demonstrate their commitment to advocate for clients intelligently and aggressively throughout the claim process, from attorney selection to resolution?
- Do they have protocols in place to ensure Certificates of Insurance are accurately and efficiently turned around?
- Do they provide contract review and revision services to help you avoid taking on uninsurable risk?
- Do they deliver loss prevention education programs to their A&E clients?
- Do they have direct access to and strong relationships with the senior decision-makers at all leading markets?
- Can the brokerage firm demonstrate its support of and partnership with professional societies such as the ACEC and the AIA?
- Does a given broker offer exclusive access to any insurers that may represent a viable choice for your firm’s professional liability or other coverage?
- In addition to professional liability coverage, do they have demonstrable expertise in other lines that may be directly relevant for your firm, including Cyber, Executive Risk, Property & Casualty, Aviation/Drone Coverage, and Benefits?
Should the need arise, is the broker capable of delivering project-specific solutions, whether it be a project policy covering the entire design team on a given project, Owners or Contractors Protective Professional Indemnity, or simply providing client-specific excess limits via endorsement to your practice policy?
A good specialist broker understands that design professionals face a lot when it comes to risk management — demanding clients, design-build contractors that often try to cover overly-aggressive GMP’s by claiming design inadequacies, a heightened standard of care influenced by climate change and other unpredictable factors, and so on. Selecting the right broker and risk management partner will give you the best opportunity to navigate that minefield successfully.
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