If your business sells knowledge or skill, such as providing advice, design, specifications, supervision etc., you have a responsibility and duty of care to your client, and third parties, through the services and expertise you provide.
Many professions are required to have Professional Indemnity insurance cover as a regulatory requirement or as part of their professional authorisation. This includes solicitors, accountants, architects, surveyors, mortgage intermediaries, insurance brokers, and financial advisers. Many consultants including consulting engineers, advertising and PR agencies, and designers also choose to have this type of insurance to meet client requirements and to benefit from financial protection in the event of a claim arising.
The duty of care owed is generally the exercise of ‘reasonable skill and care’, in the discharge of the services provided. If a professional fails to exercise this duty (i.e. is negligent) they may be liable for losses incurred by their client, and/or third parties. Taking into account the operation of the current legal system, even defending claims can be very costly.
PI cover is for the benefit of the professional and not the client, although, far too often, it is not viewed that way. Clients cannot generally claim directly against the Professional Indemnity insurance carried by professionals – they must prove liability first, a legal process which can be time-consuming, expensive and uncertain.