If you’re an architect scratching your head over which small business insurance you need to protect your business, you’re not alone. More than half of all architects are sole traders or business owners, navigating their way through the legal and practical insurance requirements of the architectural industry.i Getting the right small business insurance as an architect can be quite complex, and you may wish to speak to an insurance provider to find the options that best meet your needs. That said, this article will give you some of the important considerations that you’ll need to find the right cover for your occupation.
As an architect, you may need professional indemnity insurance to apply for, or renew your licence.ii
Professional indemnity can protect you against legal liabilities which arise from an architectural service you provided as part of your business. As an architect, any client can ask you to provide them with information relating to the insurance you maintain for your business - and this can include your professional indemnity insurance.iii
Having comprehensive cover can put a client’s mind at ease, and show they are dealing with a professional quality service.
If you’re giving advice on a pro bono basis, it’s important to know you may still need professional indemnity insurance, and cover yourself accordingly.iii
Public Liability Insurance
If you find yourself going onsite to a client’s property, or you have clients or contractors visit at your premises, you may want to protect yourself with public liability insurance. This kind of insurance will protect you from claims for legal liability for third party personal injury or property damage. In fact, in 2017 NSW District Court results showed that more than half (50.7%) of claims against businesses are personal injury claims, demonstrating the importance of having adequate cover.iv
Business Contents and Premises Insurance
If you have your own office (or home office), consider protecting its contents. For most architects, the most expensive assets in your office will largely be electronic equipment, such as computers used for digital rendering. Many architects also have a camera, and a library of reference materials. You can protect your business contents in your office or on the go under material damage and general property insurance. Remember to specify items such as cameras, smartphones and laptops, in your policy. Additionally, you may also wish to consider electronic equipment insurance to cover against breakdown of your office computers.
Personal Accident and Sickness Insurance
As well as protecting your business, it’s also important you protect yourself by obtaining personal accident and illness insurance - especially if you spend any time on site. Many contractors make the mistake of thinking they fall under their hirer’s workers compensation benefit but that is not the case.v In fact, you are unlikely to be entitled to the same compensation benefits as a regular employee.v
If you are a contractor, coverage is on a state by state basis - contact your local agency to find out more. For peace of mind, personal accident and sickness insurance can ensure there’s no gaps in your cover.
i Ibis World, Architectural Services - Australia Market Research Report, viewed 17 May 2018, https://www.ibisworld.com.au/industry-trends/market-research-reports/professional-scientific-technical-services/architectural-services.html
ii NSW Architects Registration Board, Information Sheet Professional Indemnity Insurance, Feb 2017, https://www.architects.nsw.gov.au/download/INFORMATION%20SHEET%20-%20PROFESSIONAL%20INDEMNITY%20INSURANCE.pdf
iii NSW Government, Architect’s FAQ, viewed 17 May 2018, https://www.architects.nsw.gov.au/registration-articles/61-architects-faqs
iv NSW District Court, Data Insights in Civil Justice, June 2017, http://www.lawfoundation.net.au/ljf/site/templates/reports/$file/District_Court_Report_2017.pdf
v Business.gov.au, Independent Contractors: The Essential Handbook, Feb 2016, https://www.business.gov.au/-/media/Business/Independent-contractors/Independent-contractors-the-essential-handbook-pdf.pdf