Incredibly, even the global economic crisis hasn’t hardened the Professional Liability Insurance market for Architects and Engineers. Today, there are more insurance companies offering A&E policies than ever. And, thanks to the increasing insurance savvy of Design Professionals (particularly those utilizing the services of specialist brokers), new Professional Liability insurers are offering more in the way of risk management and pre-claims assistance, too.

You’ll find all this information and more outlined in the The Hard Market That Never Came, an analysis of the 2013 Professional Liability Insurance Survey of Carriers, in the February 2014 issue of Engineering, Inc. Continue reading “Engineering Inc. – 2013 Professional Liability Insurance Survey of Carriers”

beazley_logoYou’re invited! Prominent A&E Professional Liability insurance company Beazley will present a risk management webinar for design professionals on September 4, 2013, to explain the basics of professional liability insurance:

How familiar are you with your professional liability insurance policy? If you are not sure what the policy covers or have never had the opportunity to study the policy, this session is for you. In this webinar, we shall consider professional liability insurance from three perspectives: underwriting; claims management; and risk management. We will discuss how the policy works and examine key exclusions of the policy. We will also look at potential coverage issues from a claims and contractual standpoint.

Best of all, Beazley will provide ONE connection free of charge to each participating firm or broker. Read on for more information about Beazley, the webinar, and the possibility of continuing education credits for architects and engineers.

Beazley Risk Management Webinar


Presented by:
Daniel S. Cho, Esq. of Beazley Group
Steve Stephanides, RPLU of Beazley Group; and
Colleen M. Palmer, Esq. of Beazley Group

What You Can Expect:

Please gather all of your professional staff and join us for this valuable 90-minute seminar where you and your staff will have an opportunity to:

  • Learn about professional liability insurance from an underwriting, claims management, and risk management perspective;
  • Discuss important coverage features and critical exclusions contained in the policy;
  • Explore claims and contractual scenarios that may implicate policy exclusions;
  • Ask questions to the presenters; and
  • Qualify for continuing education (C.E.) credits (as applicable). Continue reading “Insurance Academy: The Ins & Outs of Professional Liability Insurance”

beazleypro_summerissueOne of the several excellent insurance companies a/e ProNet works with has a new risk management resource for their professional clients: Beazley Pro.

We think our readers will be most interested in the Claims Corner; three scenarios, three discussions, three lessons learned. An example of a claim outlined in the Summer 2013 issue…

Engineer granted rare summary judgement

Facts:  After sustaining serious injuries in a fall in a sports facility parking lot, the plaintiff sued the property owner, who in turn filed a third-party action against our insured, an engineer. This suit against the engineer alleged that deficiencies and code violations in his design of the facility’s parking lot (specifically its handicap access ramp and lighting) were to blame for the fall. A site visit revealed that the lighting and lighting tower location in the parking lot were not as the engineer had specified. During deposition, the paving contractor affirmed that he used the engineer’s plan for pricing only, not for construction. Hence, there was no causal connection between any design deficiencies in the engineer’s plans and the plaintiff’s serious fall and injuries. Counsel moved for summary judgment, which was granted in full. Continue reading “A New A&E Resource: Beazley Pro Inaugural Issue”


In May this year, the Society for Design Administration (SDA), the nation’s largest professional organization for architectural and engineering design firm administrators and managers, announced its endorsement of a/e ProNet.

The proper management of professional risk factors such as contract administration, project administration, and document management are known factors in reducing professional risk in a/e firms.  Both SDA and a/e ProNet are dedicated to providing a/e firms the necessary tools to better manage risk and improve firm management. ~ Deborah A Gill, CPA, CGMA, CDFA, 2013 SDA President

As announced in the June/July 2013 issue of SDA Today, “a/e ProNet will pay one half of a new SDA member’s dues if that member’s insurance agent belongs to a/e ProNet… Chapters can partner with the local broker and reach out to principals and managers in their network.”

a/e ProNet and the SDA will also collaborate on a number of educational events, including the SDA’s annual EDSymposium conference. Last year, past a/e ProNet President, Leslie Pancoast, made two presentations at EDSymposium12 in Portland, Oregon, and current a/e ProNet President Jeff Todd spoke at EDSymposium13 in Williamsburg, Virginia earlier this year.

We look forward to a long and successful partnership with the SDA.

Photo via Victor O. Schinnerer's War Stories: Budget Buster
Photo via Victor O. Schinnerer’s War Stories: Budget Buster

I shouldn’t need to buy  insurance! I’ve never had a claim.

This is a common refrain from architects and engineers purchasing professional liability insurance for the first time. We hear you. There are lots of design professionals who feel this way. That’s why it’s important to recognize that insurance isn’t about punishing you for past claims; it’s about protecting you from future claims. Contractual insurance requirements aren’t merely expensive obstacles to bidding for a job; they’re supposed to protect the individual parties from the far more expensive burden of an uninsured professional liability claim. And, like it or not, industries like Architecture and Engineering are rife with potential claims.

Oh yeah? Like what?

Don’t just take our word for it. Check out this library of War Stories and Claims Scenarios from Architects, Engineers, Surveyors & Consultants, an excellent resource offered by Victor O. Schinnerer, one of the leading Professional Liability insurance companies. These are real life claims stories. Here you can read through scenarios which happened to other firms, often in spite of their best efforts to avoid such things! While the names have been changed, details are included. In each case, you’ll find out what the mistake was. How it was made. How much it ultimately cost. How it could have been avoided.

A couple of examples from the War Stories library:

Budget Buster

ABC Engineers provided design services for a residential project. The owner obtained a construction loan from a bank for $2.7 million; believing he could obtain additional funds from the bank if needed. As construction progressed, they expended the $2.7 million budget before the project was complete. The bank believed $2.7 million was adequate to complete the project and denied the owner’s request for an additional $1.3 million. The owner could not obtain additional funds and the contractors stopped working, leaving the project incomplete. Read more at Schinnerer’s website…

Due Diligence is Due

Gerard Coins Architecture, a sole proprietor, was retained by a housing authority to provide architectural design for Blanket Apartments, a low income housing development. Gerard Coins Architecture also provided mechanical design, which was permitted by state law. The architect’s design called for standard, 30 gallon water heaters but the owner wanted electric, tankless water heaters instead. The architect checked with a supplier and based on verbal information, sized the water heaters for the apartment units.

After the apartments were built, it was discovered that the water heaters did not supply enough hot water. The architect contacted the water heater manufacturer who told him the water heaters were intended to be used at a source, such as a sink or bathtub—not to heat the water for an entire apartment. Read more at Schinnerer’s website…

Risky Inspection

Homer Watkins Engineering, a civil engineering firm, was retained to provide a limited inspection and design report for a historic building. Several years later, they provided an inspection report for the sale of the same building.

A painting contractor employee, who was working on the historic building, fell three stories sustaining serious injuries after the railing collapsed on a balcony he leaned against. The painting contractor employee filed suit claiming he was permanently, partially disabled and disfigured. After filing suit against a number of parties, Homer Watkins Engineering’s inspection report was found during discovery and the suit was amended to add them.

The painting contractor employee contended that while Homer Watkins Engineering’s inspection report put the new owner on notice that the railing was too low and posed a safety hazard, it did not go far enough in warning the owner that it should be fixed immediately. While it was felt the height of the railing had nothing to do with the fall, the defense counsel felt the inspection report should have been more detailed as it was dealing with a very old brick and wood building that may have had weaknesses requiring more investigation. Read more at Schinnerer’s website…

Protect yourself and your firm from situations like these by purchasing a Professional Liability policy tailored to the specific needs of design professionals. Our members are specialists in this field, so find and contact your local a/e ProNet broker today.

texting_drivingTom Cochrane’s Life is a Highway has got you head-dancing in the fast-lane. Your hands are at a perfect ten-and-two. Your seat belt is secured. The signs say you’re two miles from the exit which will take you to your next appointment. It’s a good day.

Then your cell phone buzzes in the cup holder. The screen is obscured by the parking break. It buzzes again. Information is coming in and you’re missing it! Granted, it’s probably just a photo of your cat, Honey Booboo, wearing a Christmas sweater. But in case it’s your boss, you reach for the phone… even though it’s illegal to operate a cell phone in your vehicle in most states.

“According to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study, distracted driving led to motor vehicle accidents that killed almost 5,500 people and injured close to 450,000 more during 2009. The 2010 study attributed about one-fifth of the accidents directly to cell phone use.” But did you know that, if the call/texts coming into your phone at this moment turn out to be work-related, any subsequent accident could leave you and your firm vulnerable to a Professional Liability claim? Continue reading “Could Texting While Driving Lead to Professional Liability Claims?”

2012PLcarriersurveyDesign firms go through their Professional Liability insurance renewals annually. Did you know the insurance companies actually get reviewed annually, too?

Check out the 2012 Professional Liability Insurance Survey in the Jan/Feb 2013 issue of Engineering Inc. Magazine.

Then-President of a/e ProNet, Leslie Pancoast of IOA Insurance Services, offered the following insights:

  • One incentive to switch carriers is better risk management services. Her firm might recommend a switch, for instance, if a designer moves into a specialized industry sector, such as condominium design, or if an opportunity exists to lock in a fixed premium for multiple years.
  • But be careful. Pancoast says that firms that switch PLI carriers too frequently can sometimes find it difficult to find a willing insurer, particularly if a firm begins to experience claims or is driven back to the market by higher billings.
  • Residential work continues to generate a lot of claims, and schools and other  public projects are beginning to experience claims increases.
  • Best practices for PLI coverage continue to include good communication and proper documentation.

Read the rest of the article to learn the status of the insurance industry.

In 2013, Professional Liability insurance provider Victor O. Schinnerer will host independent subject-matter experts for four webinars, all geared toward Architects, Engineers, and other Design Professionals:

Computer-aj_aj_ashton_01.svgEmployment Liability Issues in a Recovering Economy

February 13, 2013, 1:00 – 2:00 pm eastern

Thomas L. McCally, Esq., Carr Maloney, P.C., Washington, DC

Design firms face various types of employment liability issues during the normal course of business. However, the downturn and subsequent recovery of the economy have brought these issues to the forefront of concerns for design firms. An attorney expert in litigating design firm employment practices claims will discuss the issues firms need to recognize as the economy improves and firms prepare to staff-up for the recovery.

Business Models and Financial Opportunities in a Recovering Economy

April 10, 2013, 1:00 – 2:00 pm eastern

Michael O’Brien, ASA, Rusk, O’Brien, Gido + Partners, Washington, DC

From funding sources to procurement procedures, the financial environment for professional services has significantly changed since the pre-recession economy. Both in the public and private sectors, the rules, risks, and routes to financial success are different. Professional services firms need to adjust their business plans to remain viable and to benefit from the opportunities in a recovering economy. Specializing in solving the business management and ownership challenges of consulting firms, our expert will share thoughts on the needs and responses of firms in the new service environment.

Technology Risks for Design Professionals

September 11, 2013, 1:00 – 2:00 pm eastern

David J. Shannon, Esq., Marshall, Dennehey, Warner, Coleman, Goggin, Philadelphia, PA

Technology risks associated with the business operations and professional services of design professionals is not new. However, the increased use of building information technologies and collaborative delivery methods, such as integrated project delivery, may increase the exposure of firms to traditional technology risks, as well as introduce new risks. Join our discussion with an attorney expert in technology risks to learn what exposures design firms need to be aware of and how to manage those exposures.

Insurance and Legal Questions for the Collaborative Design Team

October 9, 2013, 1:00 – 2:00 pm eastern

Rebecca H. Farnum, Esq., Thompson & Bowie, LLP, Portland, ME

Building information modeling and integrated project delivery provide a platform through which all members of the design and construction team collaborate. As with all new technologies and delivery methods, there are important questions the collaborating team should ask to identify and respond to legal and insurance issues in the open transfer of information in a contractual arrangement of shared risk and reward. Our expert will discuss what types of questions the team should ask before formally entering a collaborative agreement.

Visit our website to download the full PDF version of the 2013 Victor O. Schinnerer webinar schedule.

100 Years of Zurich

zurich100years_adA treat for Architects, Engineers, and roller coaster enthusiasts alike.

In 2012, Zurich Insurance celebrated their 100th anniversary. A century spent insuring people, places, and things has given the company a fascinating historical perspective, from covering one of the rides at the Chicago World’s Fair to utilizing special training to help employees handle the first computers.

Visit 100 Years Insuring America, Zurich’s special anniversary web feature, to explore the last century through the eyes of one of the country’s leading insurance companies. Check out cool black and white photos, old advertisements, and a timeline organized by decade.

“Zurich first brought its knowledge and experience in workers’ compensation insurance from Switzerland to America in 1912 to help its customers take intelligent risks.” Today, “Zurich employs about 60,000 people serving customers in more than 170 countries.” Read more about Zurich at their website.

Learn more about Zurich’s insurance program for Design Professionals here. And if you have any questions or if you’re interested in obtaining a quote from Zurich, contact your local a/e ProNet broker today!