Does your business rely on a providing professional service or advice? If so, there's always the chance of human error and this can leave you liable if something goes wrong.
What is professional indemnity?
Professional indemnity (also known as personal indemnity insurance) is designed to cover the potential costs of unforeseen mistakes for both self-employed workers and businesses across many different industries.
For example: The legal fees and settlement costs to a client if you provide incorrect advice.
As a professional you probably know what you're doing. However, there's always a chance of making errors. What seems like a innocent mistake can actually cost you a lot of money.
Let's say you're building surveyor and you issue a permit for a housing project and later the property owner finds issues with the building (and sues the builders). The fault may come back to you e.g. for not properly checking the building plan before issuing a permit.
This is where professional indemnity (PI) insurance comes in.
If you are ready to speak with a consultant about different business insurance options available, simply enter your details in the form. Keep reading if you want to learn more about the different types of cover available.
Some quick tips when getting a quote
It could cost $50 a month in some cases, $300 in others.
Professional indemnity insurance is not one-size-fits-all. The cost for cover can vary dramatically depending on the insured’s cover needs. For example in our 2018 research we found that the average monthly cost for a sole trader tax agent was $49.76. This amount however could change if there was a different industry and size chosen.
Key factors that will affect your quote
When negotiating a competitive premium, the following factors are taken into consideration:
Number of staff employed by company and annual turnover. Sole traders or companies with say 15 employees won't require the same level of cover as large-scale organisation.
Types of clients that company/professional services. Professionals that work on large-scale,. multi-million dollar projects will require a higher level of cover than smaller firms.
Industry. Industries like construction carry higher risks and make more claims than other industries and this affects the premium that can be offered to clients.
The specific business activities and risks. Even within the same industry, different businesses or independent contractors will have a specific niche or risk associated. A full assessment of your business activities is recommended to ensure the most appropriate cover.
Policy inclusions and exclusions. Obviously more comprehensive protection packages with increased levels of cover will cost more than more basic policies.
Some additional factors you might not realise
Previous claims history. If no claims have been made against a client then a lower premium can be arranged.
The amount of excess your willing to pay in the event that a claim is made. A higher excess can enable you to pay a lower premium. This does mean more comes out of your pocket during claim time.
The statutory requirements for each industry. Some industries require a minimum PI insurance coverage is usually $1,000,000. The higher the cover you require, the more expensive your premium will be.
The location of the business. Different states have different stamp duty amounts that affect the premium and particular locations are considered higher risk due to the history of claims made.
Don't just compare on price. Professionals should be on the look out for insurers who:
Understand their particular industry and manage policies of other similar businesses
Can produce evidence or reviews of favourable outcomes for clients when claims are made
Are approved by the governing body and membership association of your industry
Have clear policy guidelines regarding inclusions and exclusions and communicate them to you so you know exactly where you stand
Take a personal approach and assess your business specifically to identify the proposed risks in order to assign adequate cover.
It is important to get a number of quotes and talk to a variety of insurers before committing to any particular policy.
Want to know more about how professional indemnity insurance works?
Professional indemnity is designed to cover the policyholder for any third party damage that may be incurred if a client files a claim. Any ensuing compensation that may be required to be paid to the client from the individual or business is also covered.
Some policies will offer cover for claims from clients for financial loss, bodily harm or damage to property due to errors in the provision of the service. An example could be a medical professional providing incorrect advice and then having to cover the clients subsequent medical expenses.
What is covered
Damages and compensation costs against you
Public relations fees
The cost of investigation
What is NOT covered
Damages to property
Damages from intentional acts
Detailed list of examples
Typical civil liabilities covered under a policy include:
Breach of duty. Indemnifies the insured for claims arising out of breach of duties including confidentiality, privacy or fiduciary duty
Consumer protection liability. Claims for compensation resulting from violation of statutory duty
Contractual liability. Claims breach of contractual agreement that can be enforced in court
Breach of Competition and Consumer Act and Fair Trading Acts. Indemnifies policyholder for claims arising for breach of Competition and Consumer Act and Fair Trading Acts (Australia and New Zealand)
Intellectual property. Claims made for the infringement of the use of intellectual property. Most policies will require for the act to be unintentional and for the purpose of the provision of the service
Unintentional defamation. Unintentional publication of words believed to be defamatory of the client if the insured made the comments innocently
Contractors or consultants. Liability arising from services provided by contractors or consultants. Indemnity will only provide cover for the policyholder and will not extend to the contractors and/or consultants that have provided the service
Libel or slander. Liability arising from libel or slander by the insured to the client provided that it was committed during the provision of their professional service and that it was unintentional
Loss of documents. Loss or damage to the clients documents during the provision of the insured’s service
Misleading and deceptive conduct. Claims arising where the policyholder has engaged in conduct that is misleading or deceptive in the provision of their service as outlined under the ASIC Act 2001
Compensation for court appearance. In the event that the policyholder’s legal advisers require the principal or employee of the policyholder’s business to appear in court, the policyholder will be provided with compensation equal to their daily salary to a maximum amount
Claims investigations costs. Compensation for costs incurred to investigate claims paid in addition to the maximum limit provided under the policy for Australian and New Zealand jurisdictions
Dishonesty of employees. Policyholder will be compensated for liability in respect of claims made that were the result of dishonest, fraudulent, criminal or malicious acts or omission by an employee of the insured during the provision of their service
Inquiry costs. Compensation for costs arising out of inquiries into the insured’s liability
Joint venture liability. Compensation arising from the insured's participation in any joint-venture related to their professional service
Legal consultation costs. Compensation for costs incurred from legal consultation to the policyholder in the event of a claim
Public relations expenses. Indemnifies the policyholder for adverse public relations expenses that arise during the policy period
Spouse liability. In the event that a claim is made against the policyholders spouse, the claim will be treated as the liability of the insured’s
Extension of claim period. In the event that a claim is made against the insured up to a specified number of days following the expiry of the policy, the insured will still remain covered under the policy
The conditions of the cover features listed above will each have their own set of conditions for compensation to be paid which may vary greatly between policies. It is crucial that anyone looking to take out cover is absolutely clear on the requirements for a claim to be paid and the maximum compensation that they stand to receive under claim.
Each policy will have its own set of exclusions whereby the insurer will not be liable to pay compensation to the insured in the event that a claim is made
Some typical exclusions listed on professional indemnity policies include:
Claims arising following cancellation of policy. It is not unusual for many claims to be made against businesses and/or professionals a significant period of time following the provision of the service and even after they have ceased business. As many professional indemnity policies expire when they are cancelled, the policy owner may not be covered for claims made against them even if they have already retired. This can be avoided by taking out a policy with a “run off” extension discuss in the section below
Claims arising following switching insurance brands. If the policyholder is covered by a policy provided by their employer and they have changed employers and switched insurance brands, it is unlikely that they will be covered for claims made for the business they provided with their previous employer. It is also unlikely that any compensation will be provided as the previous cover is likely to have expired. In this event it is worth the worker checking with their new insurer what provisions they have for previous claims
Known circumstances. Generally, the insurer will not receive compensation for events that they were aware of prior to the commencement of the policy period
Professional fees.Compensation will not be paid for any claim arising from the insured for claims by clients for fees or charges for their professional service. No refund of fees or charges from the insured will be paid by the insurer
Foreign jurisdiction: You will not be covered for claims made outside the insurance company’s jurisdiction
Asbestos. Claims or legal costs that arise in respect of asbestos
Radioactivity and pollution. Claims that are attributable to or are the consequence of radioactivity or pollution
Dishonest, fraudulent or criminal acts. Claims arising where the policyholder has intentionally engaged in dishonest, fraudulent or criminal acts
Fines and penalties. Claims arising for compensation to cover fines or penalties suffered by the insured
Directors or officers. Liability arising from claims where the insured was acting in the capacity of the director or officer of a company or organisation
Insolvency. Claims made against the insured where all or part of the claim is attributed to the insolvency of the insured or their suppliers/contractors
Licensing enquiries. Claims made against the insured for failing to be properly licensed, registered or accredited to provide their professional service
Manufacturing, efficacy, faulty workmanship. Claims for loss arising out of poor manufacturing or faulty workmanship by the insured
Owners and occupiers liability. Claims arising from occupation, leasing or ownership of any rental or other property
Retroactive date. Claims for things done or that are thought are to have taken place prior to the retroactive date
Superannuation trustee. Any claim arising from connection or conduct between the insured and a superannuation trustee
War or act of terrorism. Any claim arising from war or terrorism regardless of any cause or event.
These are very broad definitions of some typical exclusions that may be placed on certain policies. It is essential that anyone looking to take out cover is aware of all policy exclusions and the conditions for claim payment prior to application
Do I actually need professional indemnity insurance?
Any time advice is provided to clients, you should consider professional indemnity insurance.
Despite your utmost care, mistakes and lack of judgement can happen in the workplace and will often lead to the professional’s client seeking compensation for damages. A professional can still be liable for losses even if the mistake was not a result of their own negligence. Even if the claim is illegitimate, you may still need to go through the legal process of defending yourself against it.
Professional indemnity insurance ensures your business can continue to operate despite having to cover legal costs.
Here are some situations where professional indemnity insurance could be applicable:
You offer a professional service. If a small mistake in your work could cause your client grief then cover is essential e.g an architect who incorrectly develops a building plan.
You consult or provide advice e.g. if your advice causes harm then you could be eligible to be sued.
You treat people or even animals e.g. a veterinarian or a medical consultant.
Case studies for specific occupations
Some of the industries now prioritising professional indemnity insurance include financial advisers, lawyers, tradespeople, marriage celebrants, beauty therapists, engineers, personal trainers and graphic designers. Here are some real life examples of professional indemnity insurance claims:
An accountant advised their client that an expense was tax-deductible. The ATO investigated the claim and fined the client. The accountant was liable to pay legal fees to defend the claim and pay compensation to the client. Having professional indemnity insurance ensured those costs were covered.
A building inspector completed a pre-purchase report for a client buying a new house. It was later found that there was significant structural damage in the roof that was not identified in the report. The client sued the building inspector for damages. The building inspector’s expenses were covered by their PI insurance policy.
An events coordinator double booked a room at a function centre, resulting in the cancellation of one of the events. The client whose event was cancelled made a claim seeking damages for lost business and to recoup expenses. The events coordinator was able to cover these costs because they had a PI policy in place.
Are you employed or a contractor?
Most Australian workers are covered under their employer’s liability cover, however any worker carrying out any consulting or contracting work must ensure that they have adequate and appropriate professional indemnity insurance in place.
All professionals should take the time to review the current cover they have in place and assess whether it is worth them taking out additional cover to ensure they are protected from claims against errors or omissions they have made in the provision of their professional activities.
Services that generally require professional indemnity insurance
As mentioned previously, anyone that provides advice or a service to another in an established discipline is a potential candidate for professional indemnity insurance. Some typical professions that will usually require professional indemnity insurance include:
Many professions work closely with Australian governing bodies to determine an appropriate level of professional indemnity cover that is required for their profession. Regulations around what types of insurance are mandatory for different industries can vary from state to state. It might be best to consult with your industry body to get a clear understanding of the specific types of cover you require.
Just because the work is supervised by a principal of the company is no reason for workers to think that they may not be liable to defend claims for negligence. In the event that they end up in court on claims for negligence, the cost of legal fees and advice alone could quickly amount to tens of thousands of dollars. This may only be the start of a potential financial nightmare if they are found to be liable.
There have been cases in Australia where contract workers and consultant have still been found to be negligent despite carrying out duties given by principal with whom they were employed. Many companies will now require contract workers to have both professional indemnity insurance and public liability cover in place. If the work the contract worker performs causes damages, they are liable for claims from the employing company.
Features of professional indemnity to understand
There are some important policy features that you should understand when it comes to professional indemnity
Professional indemnity is designed on what's known as a 'claims made' basis. This means the insurer who you were with at the time a claim is made is responsible for handling the claim. As opposed to the insurer you had at the time of the event occurring (unless you are using the same insurer). Here's a general idea of what it looks like
'Claims made' vs 'Claims occurring'
When is the policy 'active'?
What's this mean?
Professional Indemnity Insurance
The day you become aware of a claim and give notice to the insurer.
If you switched insurers after the event occurs, but the claim is made under a new insurer then they must handle the claim.
Public Liability Insurance
When the event that results in a loss occurs.
If you switch insurers after the event occurs, the old insurer is still responsible for handling the claim.
This means that the insurer must work to settle the claim even if the event leading to the claim took place when the policyholder was insured under another policy. This ensures that workers that have changed employers are still covered for events that took place for service provided to previous clients.
Run off cover provides an extension of the policy cover after policyholder has stopped trading e.g. the business has been sold, foreclosure, a merger or the policyholder has retired.
How long should run off cover be taken out for?
This will vary between individuals and organisations. Government bodies can provide advice on an appropriate run off period based on the service provided. It is best to review the legislation on the profession to determine how long following the provision of the service that claims can be filed and legal proceedings commenced against a professional.
Fidelity insurance is a form of additional cover that protects the policyholder for direct losses suffered as a result of dishonest acts of their employees. Fidelity insurance generally covers loss or misappropriation of client’s funds that were under the control an employee in their business. This cover can be taken out as a separate policy or included as an extension of the standard professional indemnity insurance policy. Common exclusions for fidelity insurance
Loss must be discovered by the insured during the period of insurance
Insurer must be notified of loss within a specified period of time. This will be outlined in the policy disclosure statement
Cover is not provided for losses that have occurred following the discovery by the insured of such conduct by the principal, director or employee or after the insured had reasonable grounds for suspicion of the act occurring
Indirect or consequential loss is generally not covered. This may include liability to third parties, trading losses, investigation costs or damages of any kind
Insured must be able to substantiate to the insurer any loss covered by this policy extension
Each policy will have a sub-limit applied for liability payable to the insured in the event of a loss occurring
The retroactive date refers to the date after which your professional indemnity insurer will cover any acts, errors or omissions committed by you. In other words, any acts, errors or omissions that occur prior to this date will not be covered by your policy. There are two ways in which the retroactive date can be listed – unlimited or specified – so you’ll need to check the fine print of your policy to see which definition your insurer uses.
Unlimited Retroactive Date: The insurer will cover claims relating to acts, errors or omissions regardless of when they occurred.
Specified Retroactive Date: Policy restricted to cover claims that arise from acts, errors or omissions that occur after the date outlined in your policy documents.
Some insurance brands limit the retroactive date to the time your business first took out professional indemnity cover but, ideally, you will typically hope for the retroactive date to not be any later than the date your business began offering services to customers. If you change to a different professional indemnity insurer, in most cases the retroactive date in place will be carried forward by the new insurer so that past work you have performed is still covered.
The limit of indemnity is the maximum amount an insurer will pay in regard to any one claim made against you. However, it’s important to check whether your policy has a costs inclusive limit of indemnity or a costs exclusive limit of indemnity.
Costs Inclusive: Includes defence costs in the maximum amount it will pay for a claim. So if your policy offers $3 million cover, costs inclusive, and if a claim is made against which requires you to pay a liability of $3 million to the claimant but also sees you incur legal defence costs of $300,000, your policy will only cover the $300,000 of legal costs plus $2.7 million of liability. That leaves you with $300,000 left to cover out of your own pocket.
Costs Exclusive: Legal defence costs are covered in addition to the limit of indemnity, which means it could be a more desirable option for most businesses.
It’s also important to check whether the excess payable under your professional indemnity insurance policy is costs exclusive or costs inclusive. With a costs exclusive excess, you won’t have to pay an excess when you incur legal costs during the successful defence of a claim. Instead, you’ll only have to pay an excess if you have to pay compensation in respect of a claim. On the other hand, a costs inclusive excess is payable when you incur defence costs – regardless of whether you end up having to pay compensation to the claimant or not. That’s why it makes sense to look for a policy that offers a costs exclusive excess.
How much cover do I need?
Unfortunately there is no set answer for how much cover you should take out. Every business is different and there are different regulations in place for minimum cover required for certain professions. These requirements can also vary from state to state. Some other factors to consider that will impact what you pay for cover include:
Clause of contract. Most contracts will specify a minimum amount of cover that the worker must have in place to carry out the project.
Type of project and value. This is the correlation between the value and size of the project being undertaken and the workers exposure to claims for professional negligence
Perceived exposures. Assessment of possible causes of loss, injury or damage that may lead to a claim being brought against you.
Number of parties relying on advice. If the nature of the project means that advice will be passed onto more than one party, the worker may be liable for claims from other parties affected.
Cost of defending a claim. Some policies will have an additional limit applied for the actual cost of defending a claim. Lengthy court cases can quickly run into the tens if not hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Willingness to carry risk. This requires the worker to assess how much of the risk they are willing to carry themselves with a lower policy limit or by transferring the risk to other parties.
Cover for previous claims. Professional Indemnity Insurance is of a "Claims Made Basis" . This means that cover can apply for claims made against the worker for previous activities. With this in mind it's important to consider the potential value of claims in the future following inflation.
Determining an appropriate level of cover is no easy task. It's worth taking the time to speak with a financial adviser to help you assess the risks you are exposed to and what protection packages may be suitable.
Professional Indemnity vs Public Liability
Public liability Insurance
Covers legal liability for claims arising from an act, error or omission of duty by the professional
Cover can include claims for personal injury, professional injury or financial loss
Provides cover for claims made for actual breaches of professional duty
Provides cover for legal liability due to personal injury or property damage caused by your business
Product liability is an extension of public liability providing cover for personal injury or damage caused by the use of your products
Cover may not always extend to claims for financial loss if there has been on injury or damage
Types of business it's designed for
Any business that provides professional advice to it's clients.
Any business that works with clients in public spaces.
Does not cover accidental injury
Event giving rise to the claim will often have to occur within the period of insurance for cover to apply
The claimant must be able to establish that the cause of the loss has direct connection to the business.
Can I get covered for both under one policy?
Yes you can.
One of the main reasons that people often get confused between these different types of cover is because many policies will provide cover for public, product and professional liability under the single policy.
How will I know if I have combined cover?
This is usually outlined in the product cover features and exclusions though it can be difficult for applicants to know exactly what events they will be covered for. Many professional indemnity insurance policies will have exclusions in place for injury or damages to property and vice versa. As an example, a professional indemnity insurance policy may have the cover extension that provides cover for claims arising out of “Manufacturing, Loss or Faulty Workmanship” though this may recognise personal injury or damage to property as a loss.
What are the risks of a combined policy?
The risk is that many policyholders may actually be significantly underinsured from particular losses by relying on one umbrella policy to provide adequate cover for public, product and professional liability. It is worth speaking to an insurance consultant to help them find and tailor a policy closer to their needs.
How do I compare professional indemnity insurance?
With so many different cover options available on the Australian Professional Indemnity Insurance market, it is crucial that any sole trader or business looking to take out cover take the necessary steps to compare different options to ensure they are receiving adequate cover at the right price.
Default cover features: It is critical that anyone looking to take out cover closely review the cover features listed in the product disclosure statement to know exactly what liability they will be covered for. Refer to this section for an overview of typical cover options
Policy extensions: Most policies will offer a number of additional cover options to applicants to ensure there is an adequate level of cover in place. Such extensions may include run off cover and fidelity insurance
Limit of liability: Each insurer will clearly state the maximum compensation that will be paid for each claim within the product disclosure statement
Policy exclusions: Each insurer will have its own set of exclusions for when a policy will not be paid. It is critical that these are reviewed closely when comparing policies to avoid any surprises in the event that a claim is made further down the track. It is not enough to just skim over these…the conditions for payment must be closely reviewed and understood
Entities covered under the policy: Each policy will list the parties that will be covered under the policy. It is critical that any business owners looking to take out cover for employees and other entities related to their business that they have a clear understanding of whom exactly is covered for the provision of professional services
Professional services provided in the past: It is vital to have a clear understanding of how your insurer deals with claims for work that you carried out with a previous employer or while covered under a previous policy. Many policies will not recognise claims that have been made outside of their retroactive date
Cooling off period: Each provider will offer a cooling off period whereby you will have the option to cancel your cover if you feel it does not meet your needs. This is generally about 21 days
Claim conditions: Insurance brands will have conditions in place for the payment of claims for different liability faced by the insured. Some key aspects of the insurers claims conditions to review include;
When is professional indemnity insurance compulsory in Australia?
Depending on your location and occupation, you might need to get professional indemnity cover before you can legally provide your services.
Other times, it might not be mandatory, but will be required in order to develop your career. For example, you are required to hold professional indemnity insurance in order to become a Certified Practising Accountant in Australia.
Meanwhile, other industries have professional indemnity insurance requirements all over Australia. For example, you cannot practice as a physiotherapist in Australia without professional indemnity insurance.
While care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the following information, it is not comprehensive and may be subject to changing legislation. Business insurance brokers or industry representatives may be able to help you find information for your situation and profession.
In New South Wales, you must hold professional indemnity insurance if you have a license issued under the Property, Stock and Business Agents Act 2002.
This includes professions such as real estate agents, stock and station agents, business agents, strata and community managing agents, and on-site residential property managers.
To meet the requirements, your mandatory professional indemnity insurance must have the following:
Minimum amount of cover. A minimum of $1 million cover for any one claim and $3 million in aggregate for all claims made during a period of insurance.
Liability cover. Cover for liability arising from negligence, unintentional misleading or deceptive conduct, breach of professional duty, defamation, interference with intellectual property rights, employee fraud or dishonesty.
Cover for you and your employees. Cover for yourself and any applicable employees or agents
When am I exempt?
You are exempt from mandatory cover in the following situations:
If you are a license holder who does not carry out professional activities under the license. For example, you may be currently unemployed, employed in a different industry or a trainer rather than a practising professional.
For commercial property agency work in relation to any property exceeding $10 million in value
For commercial property agency work carried out by a corporation on behalf of an affiliate that holds the required professional indemnity insurance.
Who else might require professional indemnity?
Other professions may also be required to hold professional indemnity insurance before commencing practice. For example, architects are required to hold an appropriate level of cover for the project they are undertaking and inform their clients of what level of cover they have.
Professional indemnity insurance may be required in certain areas, such as if you provide consultation or advice to clients on the following:
Design work or architecture
Management of their businesses or interests
Professional indemnity insurance may also be required for a building industry consultant who wants to qualify for government contracts.
In Victoria, you may be required to hold mandatory professional indemnity insurance in the following situations:
Your business operates in an area similar to the ones specified above.
You are a healthcare practitioner.
You are a lawyer or legal practitioner. There are a range of exemptions to this requirement, although you may be required to disclose your lack of insurance to prospective clients.
You are an architect. You must provide evidence of your professional indemnity insurance annually. Cover must be automatically re-instating, must be at least $1 million and at least 20% of your cover must be for legal defence purposes.
Community organisations may be required to hold professional indemnity insurance. Some of these organisations may be eligible for cost-savings by accessing cover through a state program. Eligible organisations can include the following not-for-profit organizations:
Health care centres, public hospitals, drug and alcohol facilities, hospice care centres, community health centres and others.
Kindergartens, youth accommodation, family support, disability accommodation support, community housing, financial counselling and others. For-profit businesses that work in these fields may be covered for professional indemnity insurance through the same insurance programs.
Professional indemnity insurance, along with public and product liability insurance as well as directors’ and officers’ liability, is mandatory for some private businesses within these industries.
Professional indemnity insurance is mandatory when providing a range of services and in a range of different situations. These include the following:
Construction work. Building indemnity insurance is mandatory for building contractors performing domestic construction work that costs more than $12,000 or requires council approval. This includes new buildings, renovations and extensions. Construction cannot legally commence on these projects until the contractors have the required building indemnity insurance.
Healthcare services. Professionals providing healthcare services in SA may be required to hold at least $10 million of professional indemnity insurance and $10 million of public liability insurance in different situations, such as when they are external staff providing healthcare services in a hospital.
Legal services. Legal practitioners in South Australia are generally required to either hold professional indemnity insurance or to seek a specific exemption from this requirement.
Architectural services. Architects are required to hold at least $1 million of professional indemnity insurance.
Membership for some prominent industry organisations may require professional indemnity insurance, while other industries, such as health care, may also require it.
Wider healthcare services. Public sector healthcare providers may be required to hold professional indemnity insurance, either through a state scheme or another insurer.
Nurses, nurse practitioners and midwives. Registered nurses, nurse practitioners endorsed under national law and related education providers as well as employers of registered nurses and nurse practitioners are all required to hold professional indemnity insurance in addition to specific other forms of cover. It is illegal to practice nursing in the NT, including volunteer work or on behalf of any other organisation, without this type of insurance.
Legal practitioners. Practicing certificates from the NT Law Society cannot be issued without proof of adequate professional indemnity insurance. You must get the insurance prior to commencing practice, and you cannot get it backdated.
Here's are some industries that require professional indemnity in the Australian Capital Territory:
Architects are legally required to hold professional indemnity insurance before commencing practice in the ACT.
Practising lawyers in the ACT are required to hold professional indemnity insurance (with a minimum of $1.5 million in cover) when holding an ACT Law Society practising certificate.
Government professions and organisations hold professional indemnity insurance through existing programs.
Mandatory indemnity insurance in Tasmania:
Building and construction. Working in these areas may require professional indemnity insurance in line with state government legislation.
Engineering and design. Engineering and design professionals are required to hold professional indemnity insurance.
Medical services. The Health and Community Service Union in Tasmania requires members to be covered by the organisation’s insurance policy, which means members, such as ambulance drivers, nurses, physical therapists, paramedics and others are required to hold professional indemnity insurance and malpractice cover of up to $10 million per claim, including Good Samaritan Acts Endorsement cover.
PI insurance is compulsory for architects. Architects are generally required to have at least $1 million in cover before being given a license to operate.
How do I make a claim?
In the event that a claim is made against the insured, it is their duty to inform the insurer as soon as possible. Notice is to be put in writing and sent to the insurer by courier, fax or certified mail. The insurer will recognise that notice has been received once their underwriting division has received the notice. Every letter, demand, writ, summons and legal process pertaining received by the insured related to the claim must also be forwarded across to the insurer. Most insurance brands will have claims form located on their website for the insured to complete. These will usually be comprised of the following sections:
Details of the insured
General information about the claimant or potential claimant
Details of the insured’s retainer/contract
Details of the claim or circumstance
Details of the insured’s response
List of relevant documents that have been attached to the claim form
Claims co-operation: In the event of a claim, the insured will do everything in their power to provide all necessary documentation and evidence to the insurer relevant to the claim that is made. They will also do everything in their power to diminish the loss and assist with the defence, investigation or settlement of any Claim. This is to be done at the insured's own cost. Advance payment of claims expenses: The insured will advance payments of necessary expenses that may be incurred in the defence of a civil liability claim. All payments must be repaid to the insurer in the event that the insured is not eligible for payment of such claim expenses under the terms of the policy. Claims conduct: In the event that a claim is made:
Insurer is entitled to take over and conduct in the name of the insured to defend any claim made
Insurer reserves the right to deny cover to the policyholder as it assesses a claim or conducts defence on behalf of the insured
The insured or insurer will not contest or litigate the claim if the senior council is of the belief that attempts should be made to reach a settlement for the claim
Allocation: In the event that there is a claim made for losses that are both covered and not covered under the policy, the insured and the insurer will work together to agree upon a fair and proper allocation between covered loss and uncovered loss by taking into consideration the financial exposure to both covered and uncovered parties. Defence and settlement: The insured will not admit liability or settle a claim without first receiving the insurance brands consent. Other insurance: In the event that the insured may be covered under other forms of insurance, they must give complete details of this cover to the insurer. Most policies will not cover any claim or loss that may be covered under another policy.
Some final questions you might have
An individual that provides advice and/or a service in an established discipline is considered to be a professional. This may be anyone from lawyers to architects to graphic designers.
Each professional is responsible for showing duty of care in the provision of their service to clients and members of the public. In the event that in the course of provision of the service the client suffers a loss through an act, error or omission by the professional, professional indemnity insurance protects the professional from financial loss that may be suffered from any claims. Some workers will be required to hold a professional indemnity insurance policy by law either as a contractual requirement or to be a member of an association relevant to their field.
Cover can be purchased either directly from the insurance brand or with the help of a financial adviser. An adviser can help you determine an appropriate level of cover and assist you with your policy application.
Claims made and notified: Any fact, situation or occurrence that may lead to a claim being made must be notified to the insurer within the period of insurance. If the policy has retroactive cover in place, the event leading to the claim could have taken place prior or after the period of insurance. The insured must not have any prior knowledge of any known circumstances that may have resulted in a claim.
Occurrence policy: Event leading to a claim must take place during the period of insurance, though the insurer can be notified of the event at any time following.
An insurer should be notified at the occurrence of any fact, situation or circumstance that would provide a reasonable basis for belief that a claim might be made against the insured. The earlier that the insurer is notified the less the likelihood of a successful claim being made against the insured.
The loss of documents as recognised under professional indemnity insurance is the loss of a third party's documents that were in the possession of the insured. A claim may only be filed if the insured has suffered a financial loss as a result.
There are two types of excess that may be applied to the policy:
Costs inclusive: Excess applied to legal costs and settlement.
Costs exclusive: Excess applied to actual settlement of a claim. No excess is paid if matter is successfully defended.
Costs exclusive is more desirable to policyholders but is only offered by select insurance brands and at a higher premium.
Policyholder is indemnified from claims arising from civil court. This is in comparison to criminal liabilities that may be involved by a criminal court.
This is the start of the policy period.
This is the date whereby events, acts errors or omissions by the insured that may lead to be a claim following will be covered.
A hold harmless agreement is an agreement in contract between two parties whereby the recipient of that clause is “held harmless” by the other contracting party or anybody else claiming against the recipient for events related to the contract. This effectively means that the professional cannot be held liable by the contractor for any claims or loss in respect of the service provided. This can cause issues for insurance brands if they wish to subrogate against another party for the recovery of a claim for another party that is found to actually be liable. If the other party has a hold harmless clause in place, little can be done by the insurer to recover this claim.
Professional indemnity insurance policies will have a benefit limit that can be paid for the total sum of claims made against the insured in the policy period. Automatic reinstatement allows the aggregate limit to be increased, while the sub-limit for individual claims will remain the same.
Clauses: Lays out the insurance brands obligations to the insured in the event that a claim is made
Exclusions: The exclusions outline the conditions of the policy clauses and events where the insurer is not liable to indemnify the insured
Conditions: Outlines the general and claim conditions applied to the policy. They establish the preconditions to coverage under the policy
Extensions: Any additional options that may be necessary for the applicant to take out to ensure adequate protection is in place. This may include cover for product liability or run-off cover
Will Eve is the lead publisher of the global team at Finder. He was previously the group publisher for insurance for Finder Australia. Will has a Bachelor of Communications from the University of Technology Sydney. He loves the challenge of launching Finder into new markets while helping grow Finder’s global team.
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