Claims against architects

What insurance do architects need?

Architects are relied upon in many construction projects, from drawing up initial plans to build a structure, specifying materials to use and overseeing the overall project to its completion. Yet it’s often one single person carrying this responsibility, and mistakes can always happen.  What insurance do architects need? A PI Insurance architect policy could cover you if something goes wrong… 

Take architect, Basia Lejonvarn, who was sued £265,000 by her own friends when her advice-free of charge- saw her clients project go wrong. Or for example, in 2003, a firm of architects was found liable for contributory negligence after a curry factory was set ablaze by fat from a pan.

The Legal Stuff

Whilst these instances were firsts of their respective types, they set precedents which sided with the client, not the architect. When mounting a legal claim against an architect, prosecutors look primarily for three elements;

  1. The architect owed the client a duty of care
  2. The architect breached this duty of care
  3. This breach caused the client a financial loss

Whilst the breach can sometimes be blatantly obvious, it can also be complex and drawn-out, leading to hefty legal fees. As ever, architects are extremely diligent in what they do and their undertaking of it, but with so much to get wrong, avoiding errors might well be considered a regular duty of your role. 

Acts, Omissions & Errors

Such errors could be found in poor design or planning, the use of unsuitable materials, a failure to recognise relevant regulations or planning permission, a failure to keep within a specified budget, or even the breach of health & safety regulations.

As any architects will know, these types of breaches not only impact your client’s project, but can tarnish any professional respect you have gathered which could ultimately affect your whole profession.

Historical Cases

Even the most skillful of architects have found themselves facing legal action for work they carried out. Frank Gehry, Pritzker Prize winner and architect of the MIT’s State Center in Massachusetts, faced a lawsuit  after it leaked and grew mould due to sealant failure. Cornell University sued the architecture firm which designed the Johnson Museum Center, citing serious issues with humidity in the building which compromised the safety of the artwork held there. 

Some of these cases stretched into the millions of pounds, so how do architects defend themselves?

PI Insurance architect

Professional indemnity insurance protects professionals like architects from negligent behaviour, actions, omissions & genuine errors. Though just a few decades ago, legal cases seldom sided with the client, more and more architects find themselves facing legal action, and so more and more opt to take out professional indemnity before they take on any work. 

At NC Insurance, we can equip you with liability insurance designed around you. We’ll consider the work you carry out, where and how you carry it out, who helps you and much more to ensure you never find yourself up against it should an incident occur. 

If your business could benefit from the protection & security that professional indemnity insurance provides, get in touch with one of our expert team on 0191 482 1219 or visit our website to learn more about protecting your business with PI

To find out more about keeping your business safe from risk, why not check out another of our blogs: How business continuity is moving towards the cloud.