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Archive for 2014

Architects must construct better businesses to avoid ruinous claims !

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

Architects could face claims that put them out of business if they don’t fully understand their responsibilities.
•Increasingly complex projects demand new skills, including better risk management
•Brokers can add value by helping their clients avoid common pitfalls

As the UK economy grows, architects can look forward to a healthier construction sector. But firms still face intense competition along with pressure to innovate and increase standards.

“Architectural firms need to make sure they have the skills to function at the right level, otherwise, if things go wrong, they risk facing potentially damaging claims, even when they may only be partially to blame,” says Steve Watson, Head of Professional Indemnity at Zurich.

In this environment, a well-informed broker, offering the right risk management advice, can make a real difference to their client.

Take care with contracts

One of the major burdens that architects face is the breadth of responsibilities that they end up bearing.

“For example, a firm could find themselves being sued if the contractor makes a mistake on site but later ends up insolvent at the point a claim arises,” says Watson. “Stringent financial due diligence is essential for firms before they enter into any contracts.

Firms need to be very diligent at the planning stage and ask the right questions… everything needs to be covered

Steve Watson, Head of Professional Indemnity at Zurich

“Firms also need to be very diligent at the planning stage and ask the right questions. Everything needs to be covered. Often what you find is that claims start to crystallise when a project nears completion, and the client says, ‘hang on, I wanted a blue building and this is red’.”

Getting the right planning permission to fully cover ambitious projects – such as basement extensions – can be challenging, while keeping up to date with building regulations and the use of new materials remain perennial hurdles for the profession. In addition, many projects are becoming more complicated. Buildings are expected to be more energy efficient and there are heightened expectations around things such as disability access.

Raise their game

“If an architect isn’t keeping up to date with what these changes mean in practice, they can face allegations of negligence later on,” says Watson.

Architects should also avoid taking on too much work. For some time there has been pressure to reduce architects’ fees and often firms can be tempted to take on more and more work to supplement income levels – making mistakes more likely.

Above all, brokers need to provide robust advice to their clients on both the quality and extent of cover they are purchasing. “They may think that indemnity limits of £1m or £2m are okay, but end up doing work that exposes them to claims much higher than this,” says Watson. “Brokers need to stress to their customers that they aim to get to the heart of what their client wants and they need to ensure that this is expressed clearly in a contract, removing as much subjectivity as possible.

“That’s how to minimise claims and keep premiums as reasonable as possible.”

Professional Indemnity new minimum premiums

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

Hensure Business Insurance is pleased to announce that the underwriters behind their on-line scheme have recently done a review of their rating structure and have reduced their minimum premiums in a number of areas.

It has now possible to buy professional Indemnity Insurance for some of the lower indemnity limits at the following premiums , subject to qualifying criteria.

Limit of Indemnity Price

50 k £ 67.40 inc Taxes and Fees
100k £ 78,00
250 k £ 88.60
500 k £ 109.80
£ 1m £ 131.00

Our scheme rates for Public Liability have also been reduced with minimum premiums starting from £ 22.50 + Insurance Premium Tax at 6 %.

We are also pleased to announce that R K Henshall and Co Ltd our parent company, has recently been awarded with Chartered Broker Status. Chartered status is an exclusive title only awarded to firms which meet rigorous criteria relating to professionalism and capability. All Chartered Insurance Brokers commit to the Chartered Insurance Institute’s Code of Ethics, reinforcing the highest standards of professional practice in their business dealings ‘

R K Henshall and Co Ltd achieves Chartered Status

Monday, September 22nd, 2014

The Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) has awarded the prestigious ‘Chartered Insurance Brokers’ title to RK Henshall & Co Ltd, one of the area’s leading providers of insurance advice and support.

Chartered status is an exclusive title only awarded to firms which meet rigorous criteria relating to professionalism and capability. All Chartered Insurance Brokers commit to the CII’s Code of Ethics, reinforcing the highest standards of professional practice in their business dealings.

RK Henshall & Co Ltd, were established in 1976 and since then have developed a reputation as one of the area’s leading independent insurance brokers. RK Henshall specialises in providing independent advice on all types of insurance for individuals and businesses.

Allen Simpson, director, who holds the individual Chartered Insurance Broker title, says that securing Chartered Insurance Brokers status is a landmark for the company: “We have always prided ourselves on being thoroughly professional in everything we do, and to receive external recognition in this way is very gratifying. As Chartered Insurance Brokers, we can signal our commitment to the highest levels of service to our customers”.

To date, less than 100 firms have achieved Chartered status, indicating that this is a highly exclusive award reserved for the leading firms of the broking industry.

For further information, contact Allen Simpson on 01270 758070.

CII

As the premier professional body for the financial services profession, the CII promotes higher standards of integrity, technical competence and business capability.

With over 100,000 members in more than 150 countries, the CII is the world’s largest professional body dedicated to this sector.

The CII works with businesses to develop bespoke, company-wide solutions that ensure competitive advantage by enhancing employees’ technical and professional competence.

Individually, CII’s members are able to drive their personal development and maintain their professional standing through an unrivalled range of learning services and by adhering to the CII’s Code of Ethics & Conduct.

Professional Indemnity Insurance Market News

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

There have been some changes over the last year or so to various insurers strategies when it comes to writing Professional Indemnity Insurance Risks.

Aviva pulled out of the Professional Indemnity Market over a year ago and let over £ 20,000,000 of Premium lapse off their books .They  Insurer did not believe that this was a viable line of business for them anymore in light of a poor performing book.

W R Berkley have pretty much pulled out of writing Professional Indemnity Insurance for a number of traditional trades- Architects/ Engineers/ Surveyors/ Accountants. Again citing poor underwriting results as the main reason.

Royal and Sun Alliance have recently stopped taking on any more new business for Design and Construct type exposures due to a poor performing book in this area. They are also looking to step back from writing too many Architects.

As the capacity reduces in the P I Market and insurer’s appetite towards writing the more traditional trades diminishes, then this will inevitably lead to rate increases from the remaining insurers in the market.

Watch this space.. there could be tough times ahead for clients who require Professional Indemnity Insurance !

 

Do You have a Disaster Recover Plan ?

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

When a crisis strikes, having a well thought out disaster recovery plan in place can make a huge difference as to whether your business survives or not.
Swift decisive responses can see your business emerge from a crisis with its reputation in tact & enhanced.  The key is to establish a solid disaster recovery plan and you should consider worst-case scenarios and put strategies in place that are essential to deal with a sudden disaster.

A Disaster Recovery Plan should cover:-
*Acts of Terrorism
*Natural Disasters & Severe Weather
*Fire
*Accidents
*Social Media Activism & Defamation
*Medical Emergencies
*Criminal Activities or Violence
*Outbreaks of Infection &
*Hazardous Materials

 

R K Henshall and Co Ltd can provide valuable advice in this very important area. Please ring us on 01270 758070 if you would like any help.

Cover, Safety and Service: What Contractors Need To Know

Monday, August 11th, 2014

You will know that if you work in the construction industry then you need to make sure that your insurance is organised on the correct basis. If you buy your insurance based solely on price then you are missing out on vital services that only select brokers can provide – services that will save you time and money. An expert broker in the construction insurance industry knows that contractors need the right covers and services that include superior risk control, claims processing and underwriting service.

Risk Control
Rather than relying on general advice, brokers who specialise in the construction industry can give you tailored industry guidance. The most dedicated brokers will send a Account Executive to your worksite in order to observe your operations and create a customised risk control and safety programme tailored to your unique business needs. Only after a broker understands your day-to-day needs and challenges can he or she provide meaningful solutions.

A good risk control programme should emphasise safety as paramount. Worksite accidents are expensive, both in terms of compensation costs and future premium increases – but also in hidden costs. You may not realise just how expensive an accident can be:

Loss of profits: Accidents may interrupt work for a time period or even cause projects to run late. In addition, property damage involved in the accident may be time consuming and costly to repair.

Soft costs: Accidents may also require manpower to be redirected away from completing construction work to manage other responsibilities, such as additional paperwork, meeting with investigators or following up on investigations.

Market image: No one wants to hire a contractor prone to accidents, and one or two high-profile accidents could give your firm a bad reputation. Your safety track record is an important component to winning future bids.

Psychological impact: Other employees often have strong reactions following a serious or fatal accident. They may blame the company for not protecting their co-worker or may simply need time to deal with the trauma they witnessed or were a part of. This could impact your employee retention and ability to hire quality workers.

These examples show just how important an effective safety programme is, and a good broker will help you develop comprehensive safety initiatives to address any and all risks your company faces. Remember, too, that certain safety initiatives are mandated by law. Plus, many construction insurance policies will only pay claims if you can demonstrate that your company follows strict health and safety guidelines.

Claims Processing
The aftermath of an accident can be a stressful and overwhelming time, and you need a broker who is quick, efficient and knowledgeable with handling claims and helping you manage the accident site. Your broker should have extensive experience with construction industry claims, so that your claim is properly handled.  You may have to deal with the media or the police, and your insurance representative can help manage that situation. Some brokers will insist on waiting for a claim to be processed before visiting the site, but dedicated brokers will be there immediately to help with preserving evidence, serving as a liaison and managing the accident site.

Breadth of Cover
There are many types of cover that a contractor needs, and only agents that specialise in the construction industry will be able to ensure that you are fully covered. If your broker takes the time to learn and understand your business operations and the unique risks of your company, he or she will be able to put together a comprehensive cover package.

Your broker should know how to coordinate your various policies to ensure that there are no gaps in cover. When a claim occurs, a good broker will help liaise with the insurers to sort out who will handle the claim. Some policies may have exclusions that your broker should be aware of and can address with an alternative solution. If you work in multiple countries, that also may have implications for your covers. Your broker must understand and manage all of these aspects to ensure that you are appropriately covered.

Another risk issue in the construction industry is subcontractors. You should be able to count on your broker to advise you on how to handle that relationship to best protect yourself. For instance, you may be liable for mistakes made by a subcontractor. A good broker will also assist you in handling any claims that arise due to a subcontractor’s mistake, which can potentially be messy and confusing.

Underwriting Service
Underwriting can hold up the quoting process when putting together a cover package. However, brokers who have relationships with insurers and underwriters they trust can work to ensure the quickest turnaround time for a quote. Though this behind-the-scenes exchange normally does not impact you directly, brokers who work with reliable, responsive underwriters can save you time when quoting a renewal or new policy.

Obtaining insurance should be a strategic component of your business. Developing a comprehensive insurance programme to support your unique business needs is not something just any broker can deliver. At RK Henshall & Co Ltd., we specialise in construction insurance and our dedicated agents are committed to learning your business and developing a customised insurance and safety plan for you. Contact us at 01270 758070 today.

Architects and Engineers: You Need Professional Indemnity Cover

Monday, August 4th, 2014

As an engineer or architect, you work in a highly skilled, detail-oriented industry and are expected to provide quality design services that are free of errors or omissions. Despite your expertise, knowledge and best intentions, the reality is that not all projects are error-free, and eventually a mistake or misjudgement is bound to occur. Even the smallest error can have serious consequences. If a client believes damages are due to a mistake on your part they can sue your company. It is important to protect yourself against this potentially devastating liability. The cost of defending yourself in court can be huge, not to mention the restitution costs if you’re found at fault. A professional indemnity policy will cover these costs in the event of such a claim, which may otherwise financially cripple your business.
Many professional bodies and organisations make it a formal requirement for their members to hold and maintain professional indemnity insurance. For instance, professional indemnity insurance is compulsory for architects that are members of the Architects Registration Board (ARB) and the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). Likewise, almost all professional engineering bodies require the same.

How Does the Policy Work?
A professional indemnity policy will cover the cost of defending you or your company in court, along with any monetary damages awarded to the claimant due to an error or omission on your part (up to the policy cover limit). These policies are known as “claims-made” policies. This means that cover is triggered when a claim is filed and you report it to the insurance company, since it is often hard to identify when the alleged error or omission originally occurred. Your work will be covered dating back to the earliest date of your continuous professional liability cover.

What to Look for in a Policy:
Though you may specialise in certain areas, you likely handle a variety of projects and services and you’ll want your policy to reflect that. Depending on your needs, you may want to consider these components when choosing a policy:
• Pollution liability that covers sudden, accidental and gradual pollution
• Specific cover for breach of a client contract
• Full civil liability cover (not just negligence)
• Specific cover for breach of intellectual property rights
• Reimbursement of costs incurred to help reduce or avoid a claim
• Punitive and exemplary damages cover
• Virus and hacking liability cover

What is Not Covered
The following items are generally excluded from a professional indemnity policy:
• Unfair trade practices (you hire a competitor’s employee and subsequently take one of the competitor’s clients)
• Failure to pay a fee or invoice
• Wilful or dishonest acts
Call Hensure Business Insurance on 0844 770 9590 to learn more about protecting yourself with a comprehensive professional indemnity policy.

Professional Indemnity Insurance in a Down Economy

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

Professional Indemnity insurance offers protection from damages arising from the rendering of or failure to render professional services. With claims increasing during this economic downturn, the need for professional indemnity insurance cover is even greater.

Professional indemnity insurance, also referred to as errors and omissions insurance, protects professional personnel against negligence claims made by a client or third-party. Professionals who commonly turn to this type of liability insurance for cover include architects, home inspectors, solicitors, estate agents and accountants – among others. Because claims become more frequent in a down economy, protect yourself with professional indemnity insurance.

The need for professional indemnity cover developed due to typical public indemnity insurance policies only responding to bodily injury, property damage, personal injury or an advertising injury claim. Because professionals such as architects, solicitors, accountants, estate agents, technology consultants and others can cause claims without bodily injury, property damage, personal injury or an advertising injury claim, additional cover is needed to fill this gap.

Common claims made on these policies include negligence, misrepresentation, violation of good faith and fair dealing, and inaccurate advice. For example, if a Web design platform fails to perform properly, it would not cause bodily injury, property damage or advertising injuries. Because of this, the public liability policy would not be triggered. But because the Web design platform not performing correctly could directly cause financial losses, and may be attributed to a misrepresentation of the platform’s capabilities, the professional indemnity cover would be triggered.

What Exactly Does Your Business Need?
When buying professional indemnity cover, there are considerations that will help you determine exactly what you need.
• Is the insuring agreement broad enough to capture all of the current and future work of the policyholder? Determine if the policy covers the scope of your organisation’s professional tasks and services by reading the definition of the covered services in the policy. Hensure Business Insurance can help you determine if all professional tasks would be covered under the operative definition or if additional clauses would need to be added.
• What if there is a sale, merger or change in position at your organisation? There are many changes going on during this down economy. Discuss what these possible changes in services mean for your cover. Is there approval needed to continue cover?
• Are there any exclusions? Look at the list of exclusions that resist cover. Review the list to make sure it does not preclude cover for any professional services or tasks that you need covered.
• Is an extended reporting period an option under the policy? These provisions offer extensions of time to report claims that would otherwise fall outside the policy period – as long as the act/omission resulting in the claim occurred during the policy period. Find out what extended reporting period options are available and discuss how much time the policyholder may need to report a claim.
• Can you create a bespoke policy? Common additional cover includes disciplinary proceedings or reduced retentions and may be of importance to your business.
• Have there been any past tasks or activities at your business that could potentially result in a claim? Have there been past instances where a claim was filed? What was the result? Discussing the specifics of these with Hensure Business Insurance can help determine what cover specifications you need now, to prepare you for the future.

Other Ways to Protect Your Business
• Establish a high standard for product and service quality control at your organisation.
• Keep all company records up-to-date and accurate.
• Train employees thoroughly and properly.
• Ask Hensure Business Insurance for safety and compliance information.

Contact Hensure Business Insurance today on 0844 770 9590 to learn more about Professional Indemnity Insurance

Directors’ and Officers’ Liability Insurance

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

In today’s business climate of corporate transparency and accountability, an organisation’s officers and directors face a myriad of employment-related exposures. Claims can come from many sources, employees, regulators, shareholders, creditors, customers, etc. Ever-changing regulations, increased employee awareness of employment rights and the rise of shareholder activism means directors are more frequently at risk, translating to rising claims and escalating settlement costs.

In the wake of recent unprecedented corporate scandals, clearly the trend of corporate accountability applies to large corporations. But smaller privately held companies, including not-for-profits, are not exempt from litigation arising out of the management decisions of their boards. They, too, are at risk.
Regardless of your company’s size, the legal cost to defend a director is substantial, as are the potential penalties that can be personally incurred. Due to liability risks, protecting boardroom talent can be a challenge. To help ensure both your officers’ and company’s well-being, a directors’ and officers’ liability insurance (D&O) policy is part of a comprehensive risk financing strategy.

D&O Fills the Cover Gap
Unlike liability policies that provide cover for claims arising from property damage and bodily injury, a D&O policy specifically provides cover for a “wrongful act,” such as an actual or alleged error, omission, misleading statement, neglect or breach of duty.
For example, a manufacturer told one of its suppliers to increase inventory because they were expecting a large increase in production. As predicted, demand for the manufacturer’s product grew, but the manufacturer increased its inventory with another supplier instead. The original supplier successfully sued the manufacturer, alleging they suffered damages as a result of having relied on the manufacturer’s promise.
A D&O policy provides defence costs and indemnity cover to the entity listed on the policy declarations, which may include:
• cover for individual directors and officers;
• reimbursement to the organisation for a contractual obligation to indemnify directors and officers that serve on the board; and
• protection for the organisation or entity itself.
Indemnification provisions are typically included in the charter/bylaws of a company. While an important risk component, small to medium-sized enterprises or not-for-profit organisations often do not have the financial resources to fund the indemnity provisions, making the bylaws hollow. A D&O policy can provide an extra blanket of security in the event of a covered loss.

A “fraud” exclusion is typically included in a D&O policy, which eliminates cover for losses due to dishonest or fraudulent acts or omission, or wilful violations of any statute, rule or law. D&O cover can be tailored to your needs, but be aware that D&O insurers are not consistent with their policy forms. This fact, plus the complexity of D&O claims, requires the insurer to have market commitment and deep expertise, as well as the financial resources to handle potential claims.

There are also additional forms of cover to adequately protect directors and officers, including:
• entity cover;
• payment priority for insured persons;
• severability of the insured as well as severability of the application;
• cover over time, meaning cover responds to past, present and future directors and officers;
• pay on behalf clause; and
• duty to defend clause

Consideration for Not-for-Profits
Many not-for-profit organisations with directors and officers often report some difficulty in affording the cost of D&O insurance. To minimise the costs, brokers should recommend choosing only those policy provisions considered most critical. For example, a volunteer-run not for profit without paid staff may skip employment practices cover until it hires staff. To defray the cost of premiums, some not-for-profit organisations consider charging board members a portion of the policy cost.

We’re Here to Help
Whether you’re a not-for-profit, privately held or a public company, it is likely that your business can benefit from a D&O policy. Since there is no such thing as a “standard” policy, a professional broker is invaluable when purchasing D&O cover. We understand your organisation and can knowledgeably help design policy language to meet your needs. Call us today at 01270 758070 to learn more about the appropriate protection for your company against potential directors’ and officers’ liability.

Staying Safe Around Asbestos

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

Even though most uses of asbestos have been banned, it can still be found in a variety of products, such as building materials. The new Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 came out on 6 April 2012 and creates procedures and requirements that apply to all work involving asbestos materials. The inhalation of asbestos fibres can cause serious damage to the lungs and other organs that may not appear until years after exposure. Asbestos fibres associated with these health risks are too small to be seen with the naked eye, and smokers are at a higher risk for developing asbestos-related diseases if exposed.

Avoid Asbestos Inhalation
The following tips are basic safety reminders for those who work near or with asbestos-containing materials:
• If you suspect that asbestos is present in area that is not designated as an asbestos workspace, leave the area immediately and tell your supervisor.
• Never enter a controlled zone that the company has designated as a regulated area where asbestos work is being performed.
• If you are not wearing the appropriate respiratory protection, do not enter an asbestos-regulated area.
• Do not eat, smoke, drink, chew gum or apply cosmetics in an asbestos-regulated area.
• Read and obey all warning signs displayed in asbestos-regulated areas.
• When working with asbestos, keep the material wet and vacuum the dust using a HEPA vacuum. Immediately collect and close all waste in bags designed to hold asbestos.

Protect Yourself
• Always wear the required protective clothing such as coveralls or similar full-body clothing, head coverings, gloves and foot coverings when working with asbestos. Face shields, goggles and other protective equipment are also necessary.
• Make sure that you receive the proper training and medical clearance if your work requires the use of a respirator for asbestos protection. Use the correct type of respirator for the level of exposure. Talk to your supervisor regarding whether you have sufficient protection.
• Follow all required hygiene and decontamination practices after working with asbestos.
• Leave your work clothes and shoes at the workplace and wash them at work if they are not disposable. Family members of workers exposed to asbestos can become ill from asbestos taken home on an employee’s clothing or shoes. If required, shower at work after working with asbestos.


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