WHY DO I NEED TO BUY INSURANCE?
• Protects your assets against attachment as a result of a court award.
• Provides for cost of defense when you are sued.
• Allows you to purchase such high value items as a car or a home by insuring the collateral on behalf of the financial institution that lent you the money.
• Provides financial security for your family in the event of your death.
• Provides for the health care of you and your family through systematic payments.
• Allows you to save for retirement while deferring interest payments to a time when your income is lower, thus reducing your tax payments.
• Allows you to remain financially solvent when you’re ill and can’t work.
• What factors affect the insurance premiums I pay?
• Claims activity including such costs as medical care, auto body repair, construction, legal defense, jury awards, claims adjustment, and insurance fraud.
• Overhead including rent, utilities, employee salaries and benefits, office supplies, equipment, and furniture.
• Investment income
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES TO USING AN AGENT TO PURCHASE INSURANCE?
By using an agent to purchase insurance, the policyholder receives more personal service. An agent with whom there is direct contact can be vital when purchasing a product and absolutely necessary when filing a claim. A local, independent agent is able to deliver quality insurance with competitive pricing and local personalized service.
WHY SHOULD I WORK WITH CYNOSURE INSTEAD OF MY INSURANCE COMPANY DIRECTLY?
Cynosure provides consultative services in evaluating your insurance and risk management needs and recommending coverages that respond to those needs. We have relationships with several national and international insurance companies and act as your advocate in negotiating the best terms, conditions and pricing available.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF MY PREMIUM INCREASES AND I WANT TO GET QUOTES FROM OTHER COMPANIES?
Cynosure represents many insurance companies and will survey the market on your behalf.
HOW LONG WILL I HAVE TO WAIT FOR MY QUOTE?
In most cases we can quote your home and auto in less than a day. However, there may be special circumstances that will take a bit more time. We do our best to make sure you get a fast quote, and more importantly an accurate quote
HOW DO I CHOOSE AN INSURANCE DEDUCTIBLE?
In general, you should always select as high a property deductible as you can afford. If you do not intend to submit a claim for under €500, then you should elect a €500 deductible.
IS MY PERSONAL INFORMATION SAFE?
HOW MUCH LIABILITY INSURANCE DO I NEED?
Liability policies provide coverage at least for defense and settlement costs. Consider purchasing sufficient coverage to allow you to maintain your assets.
HOW MUCH BUSINESS PROPERTY INSURANCE DO I NEED?
Business property insurance protects your building and the property within it, including computers, furniture, fixtures, and personal property used to conduct normal business operations. You can purchase coverage sufficient to replace your property.
WHAT DOES HOMEOWNERS INSURANCE COVER?
The typical homeowners policy has two main sections: Section I covers the property of the insured and Section II provides personal liability coverage for the insured. Almost anyone who owns or leases property has a need for this type of insurance. Usually, homeowners insurance is required by the lender to obtain a mortgage.
WHAT INFORMATION DO I NEED TO REPORT A CLAIM?
Customarily, to open a claim file, the facts required are as simple as your policy number, contact info and details of the loss in order to open a claim file. However, if you have more information, it is important to include it.
WHEN WILL I KNOW IF THERE IS COVERAGE FOR MY CLAIM?
The coverage determination cycle varies. Even so, insurers require a formal claim submitted before they are able to assert whether or not there is coverage for your claim.
WHAT DO I NEED TO DO BEFORE FILING A CLAIM?
In the event of loss or damage to your property, you should report a claim immediately. In addition, you should take steps to protect it from further damage. After a covered loss, we reimburse the reasonable expenses you incur to protect your property from further covered damage. Some ways you can mitigate damage include:
• Shutting off the water after a plumbing leak
• Securing your home after a burglary
• Calling the police after a burglary
• Calling the fire department
• Moving or protecting property to prevent further damage
Check your policy for additional details and speak to your claim adjuster once you file your claim.
WHEN I REPORT MY CLAIM, WHAT INFORMATION DO I NEED?
When reporting a claim, it’s helpful if you have the following:
• Your policy number
• The date the loss occurred
• The address of the loss
• A brief description of the loss
• The contact information for any other parties involved, including any contractors and experts
The earlier you contact Chubb to report your loss, the sooner we can help you
WHY IS MY MORTGAGEE LISTED ON THE CHECK? WHAT DO I DO NEXT?
Because your mortgagee has a financial interest in the property, they are included as a payee on larger claims involving building damages. We suggest you contact them prior to the payment being issued to understand what their endorsement requirements are.
Any payments for your personal property or non-building damages will be paid by separate check to you directly.
WHAT PAYMENT OPTIONS EXIST FOR MY PROFESSIONAL LIABILITY POLICY?
Insurers offer you a range of payment options. You can also choose to pay the full amount in one lump sum each year, or to pay on a monthly basis (with no fees added). We’re very flexible.
WHAT IS PROFESSIONAL LIABILITY INSURANCE?
Professional liability insurance is also known as errors and omissions insurance or malpractice insurance. It is purchased by architects and engineers as well as doctors, lawyers, accountants, real estate brokers and other licensed professionals to address business liability risks that arise from rendering professional services.
WHAT DOES IT COVER?
The policy pays other parties for damages which you are legally liable to pay as a result of negligent acts, errors or omissions in the performance of your professional services. Damages can include property damage, bodily injury, economic loss and legal expenses. The insurance company has an obligation to defend you against such claims, even if the allegations ultimately are determined to be false or groundless.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Policies are generally written for a term of one year on a “claims- made” or “claims-made and reported” basis. These policies cover only those claims made against you and reported to the insurance company during the policy term, and any extended reporting period subject to the retroactive date on your policy.
The retroactive date is the date after which the professional activities of your firm are considered to be covered by the policy. This may be the date on which you first purchased and have since maintained continuous coverage, the inception date of your firm, or some other date offered by your insurer.
Remember, the insurance company covering you at the time the claim is made is the one to look to for protection, not the company covering you at the time of the alleged error.
The amount of coverage available depends upon the policy limit you choose, your deductible, and any payments from claims in the same policy period.
HOW IS THE PREMIUM CALCULATED, AND WHAT DOES IT COST?
There are many factors involved in premium determination: the limit and deductible you choose, your discipline, and your firm’s size, projects, services and clients. Of course, claims history counts a great deal, as well as your firm’s professional track record and business practices.
An average-sized firm (20 employees) with a decent loss history should pay about 1.5% to 2.5% of its gross fees for professional liability insurance.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A PROFESSIONAL LIABILITY POLICY AND A COMMERCIAL GENERAL LIABILITY POLICY FOR DESIGN AND ENVIRONMENTAL PROFESSIONALS?
A professional liability policy for design and environmental professionals covers their negligent acts, errors or omissions in performing professional services (such as mistakes in the preparation of plans or specifications, surveying errors, or failure to provide services in accordance with the normal standard of care).
A commercial general liability (CGL) policy covers non-professional activities, both inside and outside their office premises (such as when a visitor to their office slips and falls).
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A CLAIMS-MADE AND AN OCCURRENCE TYPE POLICY?
Professional liability insurance is written on a “claims-made” or “claims-made and reported” basis subject to the policy retroactive date. Claims-made professional liability policies cover only those claims made against consultants and reported to the carrier during the policy period.
Commercial general liability (CGL) insurance policies are written on an occurrence basis because the date of accident or occurrence is readily ascertainable. The occurrence is covered by the policy in force on the date of the event (bodily injury or property damage) no matter how long thereafter the claim or suit is brought.
WHAT LIMITS OF INSURANCE SHOULD DESIGN AND ENVIRONMENTAL PROFESSIONALS CARRY ON THEIR PROFESSIONAL LIABILITY AND CGL POLICIES?
That depends on the firm’s risk threshold, what assets it needs to protect, what it can afford and what its clients require. Other factors affecting this decision may include:
- The number and size of projects the firm has performed since the policy’s retroactive date.
- The risk level of services provided. For example, if the firm’s work is a study, a survey or a preliminary design, less risk is involved.
- The frequency and type of subconsultants used by the firm. The more subconsultants used, the more exposure to vicarious liability, that is, liability for the losses of any uninsured or underinsured subconsultant.
It is important to note that the total construction value of a project is not the measure of risk.
IS PROFESSIONAL LIABILITY INSURANCE AVAILABLE TO COVER JUST ONE PROJECT?
Yes, some carriers offer project-specific insurance. Project insurance usually provides non-cancelable coverage for a pre-selected number of years for the design and construction period as well as a discovery period after construction is complete.
Coverage can begin with design or just before construction begins.
Limits are dedicated to the project and cannot be reduced by claims from other projects. Usually the entire design team is named on a project policy. Project insurance premiums are typically between .25% and .50% of construction costs.
Project-specific policies are usually written for projects with construction values of $1 million or more.
HOW SHOULD A PERSON JUDGE THE QUALITY AND SECURITY OF A PROFESSIONAL LIABILITY INSURANCE COMPANY?
By asking these questions:
- Does the insurance company specialize in design and environmental consultants’ coverage?
- How long has the insurer been consecutively writing professional liability for design and environmental professionals?
- Does the company have claim supervisors who specialize in handling professional liability claims against design and environmental consultants?
- Does the company offer loss prevention programs and other services to help firms avoid potential disputes?
- Does the company use dispute resolution methods to avoid the high costs of litigation?
SHOULD CONSULTANTS AGREE TO SIGN A CLIENT’S PROPOSED CONTRACT BECAUSE IT USES STANDARD “BOILER- PLATE” LANGUAGE?
It depends on the wording of the specific contract – how fair is it? Discussion should take place between the client and the consultant to ensure that the client’s project objectives are met and that the consultant’s insurance is not compromised or voided.
If the contract language voids the consultant’s insurance coverage, all parties will lose in the event of a claim.
Business terms regarding payment, termination, insurance requirements, dispute resolution, indemnity and standard of care must be reasonable and fair to both parties. All contract terms should be carefully reviewed and negotiated to fit the specific circumstances of the project.
Contract language should not be onerous, one-sided or attempt to shift undue risk to either party. The allocation of the risks of a project should be equitable and be relative to the rewards/profits to be received by both parties.
CAN DESIGN AND ENVIRONMENTAL PROFESSIONALS AGREE CONTRACTUALLY TO INDEMNIFY A CLIENT WITHOUT JEOPARDIZING THEIR PROFESSIONAL LIABILITY INSURANCE COVERAGE?
Yes and no. Professional liability insurance includes limited contractual coverage. Such indemnities are insurable if they are limited to indemnifying only for the negligence of the consultant and they do not include responsibility for the negligence of any other party.
If, however, you agree to be responsible for not only your negligence, but the negligence of your client as well, then the portion of liability that extends beyond your own negligence is not covered.
CAN THE CLIENT BE NAMED AS AN INSURED OR AN ADDITIONAL NAMED INSURED ON THE CONSULTANT’S PROFESSIONAL LIABILITY POLICY?
No, This is normally opposed by professional liability underwriters. However, the client can be named as an additional insured under most commercial general liability policies.
IS THERE A TIME SPAN WHEN MOST CLAIMS ARE MADE AGAINST DESIGN AND ENVIRONMENTAL PROFESSIONALS?
Very few claims are made during the design phase of a project. Studies have shown that roughly a quarter of claims are made during the design and construction periods.