Contracts, Consultants and indemnity‏

Posted by 11 January, 2016 (0) Comment

Jason really was amazing, he managed to find insurance cover for me as a consultant valuation surveyor when no one else could. He  kept me informed of progress continually. I  would thoroughly  recommend him.”

                                –  Robin Smith, FRICS

Getting your contracts in order

 

Robin called me saying “I need urgent assistance”. I’ve won a contract yet they’re asking me for insurance and nobody can provide me with what’s needed. This is something we deal with every week because a lot of insurance providers have placed their products on the Internet and don’t have the facilities to give advice as to what fits.

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The contract wasn’t complicated or onerous yet it was specific. The type of work to be carried out was slightly unusual yet the problem wasn’t the work it was the availability of cover. Robin also had a deadline to meet and so the frustration in finding red herrings all over the Internet was understandable. There were many providers that said they could offer the cover Robin needed but as soon as he scratched the surface they turned and ran in the opposite direction.

 

Insurance and contracts are usually at odds

 

Another challenge for Robin was that the contracts told him the terms and conditions of undertaking the project yet the insurance available has to be compare to the contract to ensure they dovetail. There are clauses in contracts that relate to insurance and there are clauses in insurance policies that relate to contracts.

Most insurances available via the Internet are no good when compared to contracts. The fact that so many insurance providers allow people to buy insurance without speaking to anyone is brilliant. Especially when you need something in a hurry. It’s not so brilliant when you need to speak to somebody and find that the Internet and, in particular the website that you found it on, doesn’t take your calls.

 

Whatever next?

 

Sometimes those awarding the contract start reading the insurance themselves and asking questions. Being cynical, they often ask these questions when they are due to pay an invoice. I’m not saying that they use this as a tactic to delay payment yet, if the insurance doesn’t meet the requirements, they will delay payment.

This happens most often when small businesses are working with a large company with an in-house legal team. They accept the insurance documents and only start checking the details when they are due to pay. This is so common we make sure that the insurance stacks up before it’s issued rather than suffer the pain of the late payment at a later date.


Wrap up
; Temptation to accept a contract with a large company is great. The offer may seem fantastic yet their requirements can offer the water down the profitability.

Top tip; Make sure you check the cost of the insurance before you negotiate your fees or payment terms. You might need insurance for a contract yet you don’t want to end up with zero profit.

Categories : All Risks Insurance,Business Insurance,Company Insurance,Contractors Insurance,Design Insurance,Intellectual Property Insurance,Legal expenses insurance,Liability Insurance,Patent Insurance,Trade,Trademark Insurance,Uncategorized Tags : , , , , , , ,

When complainants get tough, the tough respond cordially

Posted by 14 August, 2012 (0) Comment

Business owners dread a call from an unhappy client. This post is about what happens when a meeting causes panic. Read on to find out who is on the receiving end, why it happens, and how to avoid setting dangerous precedents.

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I’ve just had my business arse kicked! Am I covered?

 

Computer keyboard - Press the "any" keyMike phones me at 4pm on a Monday. It’s immediately clear that he’s flustered. It transpires he has just  left a meeting with a client for whom he has been providing IT services for nearly a year. “I feel like I’ve had a good kicking. We’ve been accused of making mistakes and fraud. I really need to know – am I covered for this, especially if they take action?”

This is not an everyday occurrence in my world, but it happens with enough frequency that we are used to it. We plan for it by making ourselves available every day because we want to help when it’s most needed. Mike was “covered” and I let him know immediately. He wanted a good night’s sleep, and the finer points can be ironed out when full details are known.

So what are the chances of keeping everyone happy all of the time?

 

I remember when Mike and I first sat down 3 years ago. His business was, and still is, growing rapidly, and clients expectations change all the time too. The main concern at the time was this type of issue, because IT changes as quick as customer expectations. The unfounded allegation of fraud was the result of a “competitor” getting involved.

It is a real blow when a client becomes unhappy. Yet this particular complainant had been egged on by another company, who probably wanted to usurp Mike. The competition went as far as producing a damming report, with a host of allegations that the client could wave in front of Mike, which the client did, with relish.

Apart from shock and horror, are there other issues?

 

Time. It takes time to answer any complaint. Time should be taken to avoid making the matter worse. What is vital is to take a massive deep breath, work out what has actually happened and make sure communications are clear.

This has since been achieved, and the angry party have calmed down, after they received a considered response. Even so, complainants make unrealistic demands when they’re angry and meetings without agendas set a dangerous precedent.

Wrap up: When a business is growing, learn to expect the unexpected, and plan for it. Keep in mind clients expectations change all the time too, and giving in to unrealistic demands of angry clients is not the most sensible response. Take time out to consider the situation from all angles and ensure all outgoing communications are cordial.

Top tip: In all cases, insurance companies must be kept fully informed of all progress and have lot’s of experience in what works and what doesn’t. It makes sense to lean on them rather than trying to avoid the issue or worry about unlikely premium increases.

Share this with: business owners, service providers, IT people, contractors, and anyone else who gets involved in providing a service to the demanding.

Names have been changed to protect the truly innocent.

Categories : Accountants Insurance,After The Event,All Risks Insurance,Business Insurance,Company Insurance,Customer Service,General Requirements,Legal expenses insurance,Liability Insurance,Litigation expenses insurance,Personal Insurance,Solicitors indemnity,Solicitors insurance,Trade,Uncategorized Tags : , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Accountants insurance is changing

Posted by 31 August, 2010 (0) Comment

Accountants indemnity changes 1st September

 

I thought you might be interested to hear about the new rules for accountant’s professional indemnity. Here I explain why it’s important to make an early report of claim circumstances, where problems with timing could occur plus a clear definition of what should be reported.

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Why should I report a minor concern?

Some policyholders believe that premiums go up if they report scenarios that are not really claims. If they don’t report a “circumstance” it proves to be a false economy. When the rules change it’s even easier to make a costly late notification.

Claims don’t happen often yet the early warning signs are common. Questioning fees, complaints about service and a lack of communication are typical indicators that a client or third party may become litigious. Especially if they don’t get their own way.

 

Have the new ICAEW rules made it clearer?

The new wording applies to cover effected on or after 1st September 2010 and makes it clear that claims can and will be declined if “circumstances” are not reported before the expiry of a policy. The intention is to ensure that insurance companies are aware of possible claims before the policy expires.

There is no longer a wishy washy wording – previously insurers refused claims notified later than they would like. This was despite the policy being on a “claims made” basis meaning claims made after the expiry would be covered if the work was completed during the period of cover. The terms of notification were not clear.

Now, possible claim circumstances not reported within the policy period will not be covered. Period.

 

What is a circumstance?

Definitions in policy wordings can be subtly altered without the policyholder noticing. Insurance contracts are full of detail. A “circumstance” is anything likely to affect the underwriters view of the risk. That doesn’t mean all complaints should be reported.

It’s ridiculous to report all complaints so ask your insurance supplier to interpret what is termed reasonable by your insurance company. There is no need for the new rule to result in more red tape. The fact that I’m writing about it means it probably will at the change is embedded into the policy wordings. That is not the intention, it’s just the devil is in the policy detail. We all want claims settled promptly and correctly.

 

Wrap up: Attempts to make policies clearer add to confusion. Indemnity policies have strict timescales for reporting claims or circumstances. Guidance on what a circumstance is should be sought before a policy expires, ie. before the renewal date.

Top Tip: Uncertainty is not good for anyone. Ask your insurance supplier for clarification of expiry dates, notification deadlines and clarify what “circumstances” are real in your World.

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Categories : Accountants Insurance,Business Insurance,Company Insurance,General Requirements,Legal expenses insurance,Liability Insurance,Uncategorized Tags : , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Solicitors frustrated by broker tactics

Posted by 23 August, 2010 (0) Comment

Now silly season is upon us, I thought I would update you on what is actually happening in the solicitor’s indemnity market. I know quite a few solicitors and I understand their frustrations. Rather than wax lyrical, I’m going to stick to the good, the bad and the ugly in the current market.

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The good

There are a lot of hard working brokers out there who are satisfied that they have strong enough relationships with their clients and are not using “hard ball” tactics to scare their clients into renewal. You probably have one of those on your side and your terms and conditions will be reasonable.

Ensure you provide full and detailed information when requesting your renewal terms.

The bad

There are two realities to explain. A solicitor received his form, returned it and was given terms within 48 hours. He was also given 7 days (make that 5) to make his mind up. That’s not even legal.

Another practice (with the same supplier) has incorrect “claims” on the practice’s record and the supplier is refusing to correct them. Naturally, they are worried that the terms will be provided late and prove onerous.

The ugly

Some practices (mainly SP’s) have been refused terms by their current insurer already and are filling out forms (more in desperation than hope) whilst considering their future if they cannot find cover. Their supplier should have helped them with the complicated forms.

The reason for declinature is not being made clear or doesn’t add up. One broker refused to tell their client which insurance companies they had approached. That is not service as it leaves the policyholder with no real options.

Wrap up: Some suppliers are great at maintaining relationships and have secured excellent terms. Others are playing hard ball when they do provide terms, taking advantage of the fact that the competition need time to offer an alternative. Some are being obstructive or abandoning clients they cannot easily help.

Top Tip: If an application is declined request a detailed reason before applying elsewhere.

Categories : Business Insurance,Company Insurance,Liability Insurance,Solicitors indemnity,Solicitors insurance Tags : , , , , ,

Solicitor’s professional indemnity concerns

Posted by 6 July, 2010 (0) Comment

Some solicitors are still punch drunk from last year.

With fewer insurance companies offering cover this year solicitors need more help than ever. Some are rolling with the punches, others have already given up. Here are the options including the good bad and ugly.

Last year the renewal season lead to the dreaded ARP charging solicitors 35% of turnover just to stay in business. Since then, Quinn has proved unreliable and their biggest supporters in the broking community are scrambling round the market for a viable alternative.  The Law Society Gazette reports that mergers are on the up and “the biggest driver over the next few months will be the professional indemnity insurance Read the rest of this entry

Categories : Solicitors insurance Tags : , , , , ,

You don’t want insurance companies to pay fraudsters – especially if they’re using your premium

Posted by 15 February, 2010 (0) Comment

Have you contributed to Madoff’s legal defence costs?

 

Not all insurance disputes should be won by the insured, especially if they are fraudulent.

Usually I’m furious when I hear that an insurance claim has been declined. This time I was pleased; Lloyd’s of London successfully defended themselves in a US court when Madoff tried to appeal that Lloyd’s were wrong to cut off the funding of his defence costs.

Lloyd’s had already parted with $4million whilst the legal eagles prepared their cases. They pulled the plug after one of his cohorts pleaded Read the rest of this entry

Categories : Accountants Insurance,All Risks Insurance,Business Insurance,Company Insurance,General Requirements Tags : , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,