Who needs professional indemnity insurance? Anyone which provides a service, design, advice, or specification

Who needs professional indemnity insurance?

Written by Simon Taylor


Who needs professional indemnity insurance?

If you provide a service, advice, consultancy, design, plans or specifications to a client, or if you handle confidential or sensitive information, you'll need to consider professional indemnity insurance.

Professional indemnity insurance, also known as professional liability insurance, is a type of insurance coverage designed to protect professionals and their businesses against claims made by clients for losses or damages due to the professional service or advice provided. This kind of business insurance is particularly important for individuals and firms in the service industry who provide expertise, advice, or professional services to their clients.

Professional indemnity insurance is designed to cover legal costs and expenses incurred in the defense against a claim, as well as any damages or settlements that may be awarded to the client. A professional indemnity insurance policy will typically provide cover where a mistake, negligence, or omission in the professional service provided causes financial loss or harm to a client.

What is professional indemnity insurance?

Compare professional indemnity insurance

How do we know if we need professional indemnity insurance?

A professional service is intangible, offered by persons selling their skills and specialist knowledge based on their experience or qualifications. Such people are relied upon as being experts in their fields and hold a greater level of knowledge and specialism in their subject matter than the average person. 


1. Legal Professionals

Solicitors, conveyancers, and legal advisors, even if they are not regulated by the SRA will require professional indemnity insurance to cover the advice and legal services they provide to their clients.

2. Accounting and Financial Services

Accountants, including tax consultants, bookeeping, payroll services, company secretary, M&A, auditors, and insolvency practitioners. Financial planners, including insurance brokers and financial planners.

3. Technology Professionals

IT consultants, software developers, managed service providers and companies that provide technology solutions or advice. Saas platforms, cybersecurity experts and data protection consultants.

4. Engineering and Construction Professionals

Architects, project managers, engineers, and property surveyors need coverage for design flaws or construction project management. Environmental consultants dealing with impact assessments.

5. Creative Professionals

Broadcasters, producers,  opywriters, content creators, publishers, will need to consider risks associated with copyright infringement or content disputes. Creative professionals will require media liability insurance.

6. Design Professionals 

Designers, such as graphic designers, interior designers, product designers, web designers, landscape design, will need to consider risks associated with in providing technical and/or advisory services.

7. Healthcare Professionals

Doctors, nurses, and dentists may need coverage for malpractice and medical indemnity. Other healthcare providers like physiotherapists, chiropractors, and alternative medicine practitioners.

8. Consulting Services

Consultants, such as management consultants, marketing consultants, and HR consultants. Professional services might include: research, policy development, feasibility studies, surveys, or strategic planning.

9. Marketing, PR and Advertising Agencies

Public relations firms, advertising agencies, marketing firms, seo agencies, will all need to consider PI insurance to protect against acts, errors, and omissions, including copyright infringement and plagiarism.

10. Education, Training, and Recuitment Firms

Private tutors, educational consultants, and training providers. In addition to recruitment agencies and consultants that supply staff, will all require professional indemnity insurance to provide financial protection.

Please note the above is not an exhustive list of professionals or businesses who need professional indemnity cover. You should talk to an insurance broker about your specific requirements.

Different professions and tailored PI insurance

Different professions may require specific coverage tailored to their unique risks. For example, IT consultants might need more extensive coverage for data breaches and cyber liability, while architects and engineers may need coverage that includes the physical impacts of design errors. It's important for professionals to carefully review their policy details and work with their insurance provider to ensure that their coverage aligns with their specific professional risks and requirements.

Do we really need professional indemnity insurance?

If you don't operate in a sector where the business insurance is mandatory or have not been required to purchase under contract, businesses will question whether they need professional indemnity insurance. Especially, if they have had no experience with clients seeking to claim damages against them. Underinsurance is not uncommon and then businesses will unfortunately face having to pay legal fees and damages to put their customers back into the same financial position as they were before. 

Is professional indemnity insurance necessary?

The cover is not usually a legal requirement for most professions in the UK. However, there may be specific reasons why a policy is arranged - below we take a closer look at why businesses may need professional indemnity insurance:


Regulatory requirements

1.) Firstly, some regulators and/or professional bodies require companies or individuals to hold minimum professional indemnity insurance cover to operate or continue their professional membership.


Risk management

2.) Secondly, businesses that offer advice, provide a professional service or handle client data or intellectual property would benefit from having cover to protect against third-party claimants seeking financial compensation.


Contractual obligations

3.) Thirdly, other companies may require cover to win new contracts and prove to potential customers they have the financial means to offer compensation should you breach the terms of your contract.


Why can't you rely on limitations of liability under contract?

It's common practice for contracting parties to limit their liability under contract. However, its worth considering that it doesn't matter what you agree under contract, a court of law can award damages over and above what you have agreed.

Why professional indemnity insurance is important?

Professional indemnity cover is important for several reasons, serving as a fundamental component of risk management for professionals and businesses that provide advice, services, or expertise. Here are the key reasons why it's important:

1. Protection Against Financial Loss: It provides financial protection against claims for errors, omissions, or professional negligence that could result in significant legal costs and compensation payments. Without this business insurance, professionals might have to cover these costs out of pocket, which could be financially crippling.

2. Legal Defense Costs: The policy covers legal defense costs, including lawyer fees, court costs, and settlements. This support is vital, as legal defense can be expensive and time-consuming, diverting resources away from the professional's primary business activities.

3. Client Confidence: Having professional indemnity insurance can enhance a professional's reputation and increase client trust. It reassures clients that they will be compensated if they suffer a loss due to the professional's advice or service. This can be a competitive advantage in acquiring new clients.

4. Contractual Requirements: In many industries, having professional indemnity insurance is a contractual requirement before a professional or firm can provide services to clients. Clients and regulatory bodies often require proof of insurance to mitigate the risks of financial loss from professional errors.

5. Compliance with Professional Standards: For certain professions, holding professional indemnity insurance is mandatory to comply with regulatory or licensing requirements. It's seen as a component of maintaining professional standards and responsibility.

6. Peace of Mind: This business insurance provides peace of mind to professionals, allowing them to perform their duties without the constant worry of potential legal action for mistakes or oversights. Knowing that they have financial and legal support allows professionals to focus on their work and business growth.

7. Mitigation of Risks: It allows professionals to manage and mitigate risks associated with their business activities. By transferring the financial risk of claims with business insurance, professionals can safeguard their assets and ensure business continuity.

Professional indemnity insurance is not just about protecting against financial loss, it's about ensuring the sustainability and integrity of professionals and their businesses in a landscape where mistakes can happen, and client expectations are high.

How do professional indemnity insurance claims arise?

Professional indemnity insurance claims can arise from a variety of scenarios, depending on the nature of the work and the specific professional services provided. Here are a couple of examples to illustrate how these claims might occur:


1. Architecture and Engineering: Design Flaw

An architectural firm designs a new office building, but once construction is underway, it's discovered that there's a significant design flaw in the load-bearing structure, making the building unsafe. The construction company must halt work and redesign part of the structure, incurring additional costs and delays. The client takes the architectural firm to court for the financial losses incurred due to the flawed design. Professional indemnity insurance would cover the legal defense costs and any compensation claim awarded to the client.


2. Accounting and Financial Advice: Incorrect Tax Advice

An accountant provides tax advice to a client, recommending a financial strategy that is supposed to minimize the client's tax liabilities. However, the advice is based on a misunderstanding of the current tax laws, resulting in the client facing a significant tax penalty. The client takes the accountant to court for the financial loss resulting from the incorrect advice. The accountant's professional indemnity insurance would cover the legal costs and any damages or settlements required to resolve the claim.

These two examples illustrate how professional indemnity cover protects against claims of negligence, errors, or omissions in professional services. The business insurance helps to mitigate the financial impact on the professional or firm, ensuring that they can continue their operations while addressing the claim.


About the author

Simon Taylor is a respected senior industry professional and a Chartered Insurance Broker with over 20 years’ of experience in the commercial insurance sector as an underwriter, broker and director.