ARB launches consultation on changes to PII requirements
The Architects Registration Board (ARB) has published new draft guidance on the insurance arrangements architects are expected to have in place to remain compliant with its Code of Conduct.
Professional Indemnity Insurance (PII) has a vital role in consumer protection. It provides cover so that if a project goes wrong, the parties who suffer loss can make a claim. This reassurance is essential for architects, their clients, and the people who will live in and use their buildings.
The Architects Code of Conduct sets out the PII that architects are expected to have in place, which is underpinned by ARB guidance which explains how compliance with the Code can be achieved. However it has become increasingly apparent that for some architects, changes in the insurance market outside their control means that meeting the existing guidance may no longer be possible.
Under ARB’s proposed changes:
- It would remain the case that architects should have adequate insurance before undertaking any new work.
- Coverage for certain types of claims – including fire-safety and cladding – could be held on an aggregate basis, and limited to covering direct losses.
- It would not be a matter of misconduct if an architect cannot acquire retrospective insurance to cover historic liabilities, because of new exclusions applied to their policy
- No architect should accept a minimum level of cover below £250,000 for each and every claim.
The draft guidance has been produced following research and engagement with the insurance market and professional bodies. ARB is now asking for wider views before it is finalised and comes into force later this year. ARB’s intention is to bring in changes which are proportionate and risk based, whilst acknowledging that there are wider structural issues with the global insurance market which ARB cannot resolve on its own.
Alan Kershaw, Chair of the Architects Registration Board, said:
“Professional indemnity insurance provides crucial protection to architects, their clients, and the people who use their buildings. ARB has to balance the need for public protection with the availability of insurance. We can’t set requirements that, however well-intentioned, architects simply cannot achieve.
“The updates to our guidance on PII are intended to clarify how architects are expected to deal with professional indemnity insurance at this difficult time, while still protecting clients and future users of the buildings they design. We now want to hear from architects, insurers and the groups that represent consumer interests. I’m encouraging them to share their views by completing our survey.”
Notes for Editors
- The Architects Registration Board (ARB) is an independent professional regulator, established by Parliament as a statutory body, through the Architects Act, in 1997. It is accountable to government. The law gives ARB a number of core functions:
- To ensure only those who are suitably competent are allowed to practise as architects. ARB does this by approving the qualifications required to join the UK Register of Architects.
- ARB maintains a publicly available Register of Architects so anyone using the services of an architect can be confident that they are suitably qualified and are fit to practise.
- ARB sets the standards of conduct and practice the profession must meet and take action when any architect falls below the required standards of conduct or competence.
- ARB protects the legally restricted title ‘architect’.
- Difficulties faced by the insurance market, which have in turn led to widespread restrictions on the type of cover generally available, are highlighted in the Architects PI Insurance Study published by ARB in May 2020