Whether you’ve got a keen eye for building design and are researching how to become a Building Designer, or have decades of experience making plans for buildings, transport devices or machinery, you need to remember the importance of always being fully insured – this is why you may require Building Designer insurance.
By holding current Building Design Insurance, you could save yourself time, money and stress in the future should the unfortunate event of a claim occur.
How Does a Building Designer Ensure That They Have Adequate Cover?
Most jobs come with a certain level of risk.
However, as a Building Designer you will be sought out as a ‘professional’ and assumed to hold a higher degree of skill, knowledge and experience than your client.
If, during a project, a client feels that a material, financial or physical loss can be attributed to your failure to uphold the professional standard for which they hired you, you could risk being sued.
Building Designer: The Job
Have a think about what your job entails on a day to day basis. From speaking with clients to creating sketches advising how best to approach the design of a building, transport device or piece of machinery, your role is complex and multi-faceted.
Australia is relatively unique in having both Draftsmen and Architects.
Many Draftsmen now refer to themselves as ‘Building Designers’”, however this hasn’t always been the case.
In years gone by, Architects would primarily decide how the design would be built. The Draftsman would then be responsible for re-drawing sketches/plans and distributing them to builders.
As Draftsmen have taken on increasing levels of responsibility (often giving advice directly to clients), it is becoming essential for a Draftsperson to ensure they are fully covered with the correct insurance.
It’s always a good idea to find an Insurance Company that works specifically with Building Designers, Draftsmen, Architects or other professionals within the same industry – or even have a specific Scheme scovering these industries.
By working with industry specific experts, they’ll be able to offer you advice on the types of insurance that a Draftsperson would need and may also have recommendations as to the best providers and packages available to meet your needs.
Please note that when seeking insurance, it is important to take into consideration the various State and National legal/industry requirements as set out by the relevant Government authority/s.
What Types of Insurance Does a Building Designer Need?
Think about your personal requirements – you may be a small independent company of Building Designers, or you may be working within a larger company.
Consider the type of projects that you work on and any contracts that you currently have – these will usually state the specific type of insurance they require all their workers to have.
For example, in Victoria, according to the Australian Business Licence and Information Service, there are a number of different insurance requirements.
Professional Indemnity Insurance
This insurance is specifically designed for any professionals who give advice or provide a service to their clients.
Professional Indemnity Insurance can protect a business from legal costs and claims from third parties.
These claims could be for anything from damages that are perceived to have arisen from the professional’s acts or omissions, to claims that professional duty has been breached.
For example, should a Building Designer do, or forget to do, something that is seen to cause injury or financial loss to their client and the client decides to take legal action against them, Professional Indemnity insurance would provide the Building Designer with the necessary cover to protect them and their business.
Without the correct insurance, defending yourself can be financially crippling and your entire livelihood could be at stake.
Even if your actions are carried out with the best intentions, you need to have backup in case a client feels you have been negligent or offered incorrect advice.
It is not uncommon for legal fees to run into hundreds of thousands of dollars. With Professional Indemnity Insurance you have the peace of mind that in the event of a claim, your costs could be covered and legal teams will work diligently to defend you in any action taken against you or your company.
Other Types of Insurance Available to Building Designers:
- Personal Accident and Illness Cover:
It’s likely that your income as a Building Designer will be your main source of income and you may have dependents and family members who rely on this.
It would make sense for you tobe covered in the event of an injury, accident or serious illness requiring you to take time off work, ensuring a continuity of income stream.
- Public Liability Insurance
You may spend the majority of your time visiting sites and meeting with clients in their homes or workspace.
However, if you have an office or studio where you hold meetings, however infrequent, you may need to hold public liability insurance to cover any injury or damage that occurs to a person or property.
- Tax Audit Cover
When you’re running your own business, it can be hard to make time for tax auditing and accounting. You may in fact not fully understand the processes involved and may require the help of an expert.
Tax audit insurance allows you to cover the costs of a lawyer or accountant to assist you in the event of an audit by the Australian Taxation Office.
- Business Insurance
As your business grows, so do your insurance requirements. When your business is large enough to have its own office, you may need to look at Business Insurance. A Business Insurance policy has multiple sections and can cover risks such as:
- Property Damage
- Business Interruption
A Business Insurance policy can also incorporate your Public Liability Insurance and Tax Audit Insurance, removing the requirement to have multiple policies.
- Cyber Insurance
Australian businesses face an ever increasing exposure to some kind of cyber loss. Building Designers are not exempt from this exposure, with their businesses facing events such as:
- System Damage – Costs to repair your systems and website when they have been hacked
- Cyber Extortion – Hackers wanting money to give back your information or website
- Accidental Virus Distribution – Costs of fixing your clients’ systems if you accidentally send them a virus
- Business Interruption Costs – This money helps your business to continue if you suffer a loss and lose business income
An important cover that some insurers do not automatically include is Social Engineering. This cover protects you against situations such as accidentally sending money to a fake account based on a common email that looked legitimate. This is one of the most common issues small businesses and their staff encounter.
Why Do Building Designers Need Insurance?
There are a few reasons why any Building Designer might need to get insurance, however the majority of these relate to the type of work that you are doing, the State you are working in and any other legal requirements or mandatory licensing arrangements.
Like any business, it makes sense to protect yourself and your business against potential claims.
Tasks a Building Designer may conduct on a day to day basis might include:
- Preparing technical drawings based on rough sketches and drawings given to you by architects, engineers and surveyors
- Checking drawings for accuracy
- Using judgement and initiative to adjust and change detailed drawings
- Creating drawings using CAD (Computer Aided Design)
- Contract administration and management of a project
- Management of outputs
Even with the best of intentions, accidents and mistakes can happen.
As a Building Designer, you could potentially be held responsible for any kind of error or mistake that results in a loss to the client.
In order to defend yourself against such a claim, the right insurance will offer in-house legal support and some legal costs and if awarded, pay out damages.
Major law firms and insurance companies regularly deal with Building Designers who have suffered the crippling effects of a claim against their business.
Some instances where having the right insurance could save you a huge amount of money, time and stress include:
- Claims made against you for negligence in preparing technical drawings and plans
- Claims that you have failed to make the necessary or required adjustments and changes to drawings
- Claims of negligence in the management of outputs
- Claims that you have failed to maintain a prime working knowledge of the technological changes within programs such as CAD.
How Much Insurance Does a Building Designer Need?
The amount of cover you need will depend upon your personal circumstances and the type of company you are working for, or own and the State you live in.
To determine the level of insurance a Building Designer might need, it would be prudent to first check with the relevant State Government body to find out the exact requirements.
It’s also worth checking the insurance requirements of each specific project that you’re working on in conjunction with the overall mandatory State laws that you need to adhere to. (Some States, such as Victoria, have statutory requirements for insurance cover.)
Whilst it may be tempting to opt for cheap alternatives or seemingly attractive ‘deals’, it’s important to realise that you could find yourself worse-off in the future if, for example, the policy you’ve purchased doesn’t cover your full costs.
All Sorted? Any Questions?
Once you’ve found the right insurance for you as a Building Designer, you’ll be able to get back to the important part – doing your job to the best of your ability.
However good a Building Designer you are, it’s inevitable that mistakes may be made and accidents can happen.
By knowing that you are fully insured against any claims made against you, you’ll have peace of mind that you’ll be covered financially – saving you money, time and stress in the long term.
Now, back to the drawing board!