Professional Indemnity Insurance

Why do we need Professional indemnity insurance?

AdviceUK is committed to its members being able to provide skilled and appropriate advice to anyone who needs it. However, when mistakes are made it is important that the client should not be even more disadvantaged, and that any claims for compensation can be met without putting the resources of the centre and the personal assets of the management committee at risk.

Applying for professional indemnity insurance through AdviceUK

Applying for our professional indemnity insurance couldn’t be easier. We will work to make the process as smooth and easy for you as we can. It is our job to make sure that you get the right insurance product for you in a manner that is timely, efficient and friendly. If any of the information here doesn’t make sense, or you would like to discuss your individual circumstances you can call us on 0300 777 0106 or email us at insurance@adviceuk.org.uk

Below you will find a brief summary of the policy. Please remember that this is not the full wording which can be emailed to you.

AdviceUK membership criterion

AdviceUK believes that all advice providers should make provision to enable them to compensate the user when things go wrong, and it is part of AdviceUK’s membership criteria that AdviceUK members must have professional indemnity insurance to cover any advice they give. However, there is no obligation to obtain this cover via AdviceUK’s scheme.

What will the AdviceUK scheme cover our centre for?

AdviceUK professional indemnity insurance will cover centres for any negligent act, error or omission in the course of providing voluntary advice, counselling, mediation and advocacy services on social welfare matters. We have deliberately used the term “social welfare matters” in the policy wording in order to make the scope of our policy as broad as possible. This enables us to cover a wide range of advice subjects, including: consumer rights, environment, mental health, community care, family law, planning, debt/money, health, welfare/housing benefits, drugs/alcohol, housing, prisoners’ rights, education, homelessness, employment, immigration/nationality and energy.

The policy will also cover your centre for legal liabilities arising from libel & slander, loss of documents and dishonesty of employees. AdviceUK has ensured that the policy will also protect individuals working for the centres for liabilities that may fall personally against them. In addition the policy provides compensation for costs and expenses incurred for attending court. On occasion a claim may be made which is groundless or unjustified and which may ultimately fail to prove breach of professional duty. Nevertheless, substantial costs and expenses may have been incurred in defence of such a claim, and these will still be insured. This insurance will not cover claims made against the centre for any wrongful act committed in the role of trustee, director or officer.

Does it cover counselling?

Some advice services describe what they do as counselling (although this is less and less the case). We’ve therefore made sure that our scheme mentions counselling, but our insurers are clear that they are only covering counselling insofar as it relates to social welfare law, i.e. debt counselling. They will not provide treatment risk cover for therapeutic/emotional types of counselling. If this is one of the activities provided by your organisation you should arrange separate insurance. For advice on appropriate cover, contact the Membership Department of the British Association For Counselling and Psychotherapy on 01455 883300.

We are a Care and Repair type centre. We provide advice on housing renovation grants and we sometimes get involved in getting works done. Does the policy cover all of that?

No. This policy specifically relates to information, advice and related assistance, such as representation. It does not extend beyond that to cover actual conduct or supervision of works. For example, it does not provide cover against claims for negligent oversight of any building project, the cost of corrective works or personal accidents (e.g. from tripping over some poorly completed piece of repair work). The type of cover required for these types of risks is quite different – something of the kind that will be carried by architects, clerks of works, builders etc. and expertise in those areas would need to be demonstrated in order to get the cover. (Although we don’t deal in this type of cover, we can direct you to appropriate brokers if required).

We are authorised to perform debt relief orders/ act under the debt arrangement scheme in Scotland. Does this insurance cover these activities?

Yes. All activities for those licensed and registered to perform these activities are covered by the policy.

Important note regarding claims

AdviceUK Professional Indemnity Insurance is arranged on a “claims made” basis, which means any claim will attach to the period of insurance during which the claim is made, and not when the breach of professional duty actually occurred. Therefore in order for cover to be provided the policy or any renewal of it must actually be in force when notification of a possible claim is made.

Are there any conditions of acceptance onto AdviceUK’s Professional Indemnity Insurance Scheme?

Any advice centre can apply for professional indemnity insurance through AdviceUK. It is our duty to carry out a demands and requirements assessment for you so that we can accurately assess whether or not the insurance products we arrange are right for you. Only at that point would we be in a position to provide a quote.

You do not have to be a member of AdviceUK to apply for our professional indemnity insurance, although members do enjoy discounts on the premium.

How much are we covered for?

You can opt for indemnity of £250,000; £500,000; £1,000,000 and £2,000,000. The level of indemnity you choose applies to each and every claim. Is there a policy excess?

Most centres would not have to pay an excess in the event of a claim, although we would make it clear to you when we offered you a quote if there are circumstances that mean that you would have to pay an excess.

When will our cover start?

Your cover will begin the day we receive your correctly completed proposal form. Please note that we cannot arrange retrospective cover.

When will our cover expire?

At whatever stage you join the scheme, your insurance cover will expire on 31st March. At three points in the year the premiums are reduced for centres joining the scheme mid-term.

Payments

Please refer to our proposal form for a table of categories and premiums. You should send a cheque made payable to AdviceUK Ltd with your completed proposal form. Please note that payment by instalments is not available.

What if we have solicitors, barristers or accountants giving advice to our clients?

If you have paid or volunteer solicitors giving advice you must ensure that all people with practising certificates – whether they choose to practice or not – are insured as solicitors, either by your centre, or the solicitors’ partnerships.

A person who does not have a practising certificate is not allowed to act as a solicitor, and therefore should not be giving advice as one, or be referred to as one in any publicity or information about your centre.

Solicitors with practising certificates who are employed in a non advice-giving role must seek advice from the Law Society’s Professional Ethics Department as to what cover they should have.

If a barrister is not insured by the Bar Mutual Indemnity Fund then the centre should insure them. If your centre has a barrister, you will need to supply details with your proposal form.

If you employ a solicitor, barrister or accountant to give advice to your clients you must pay the appropriate Scheme rate of insurance under Category 10 to cover them (see proposal form for details of categories and premiums). Negligence by these people is likely to be more costly. AdviceUK, therefore, recommends that you take this into account and opt for cover of £1,000,000.

If you have volunteer solicitors, barristers or accountants advising your clients on behalf of your centre you should establish with them whether the advice they give to your clients will be covered under their partnership insurance. If you do not insure them and they are not protected by their own insurance, any claim arising from advice they have given would fall directly on the centre.

If you wish to insure more than 10 solicitors, barristers or accountants under category 10a (please refer to proposal form) you must submit your form and await a quote from us. You should also provide the following information:

1. Date of establishment

2. Number of solicitors, barristers, accountants offering advice

3. Estimate of number of persons to whom you gave advice in the last 12 months

What about outreach work?

This insurance will cover any advice given at locations outside of the advice centre, providing the advice is still being given on behalf of the insured organisation.

What happens if we want to make a claim?

It is very important that you notify us as soon as you become aware of a claim, or circumstances that may give rise to a claim. If a claim – or potential claim – arises, you should put all the details in writing, including copies of any case notes, correspondence and other paperwork relevant to the claim, and send with a covering letter to AdviceUK. We will then pass all the details on to our insurers, and they will deal with the claim. When you apply for this insurance we will send you a sheet: “What to do in the event of a claim or potential claim”.

What do we do if we want to cancel our policy, and can we get a refund?

If you wish to cancel your policy mid-term for any reason, you should inform us in writing. Please note that AdviceUK is not able to refund any of your premium if you cancel your cover before the expiry date.

What if we need to increase our cover?

If you take on more workers and this changes the category of cover you need, or if you wish to increase your level of indemnity, you should inform us in writing and we will invoice you for any extra premium or send you an additional form to complete, as appropriate. We cannot arrange retrospective cover, so you need to let us know straight away.

What’s next?

You can find the PII proposal form, policy wording and terms of business on this page. If you are interested in taking up insurance through us please fill in the proposal form and email  it to us now for a quote at insurance@adviceuk.org.uk.

This insurance policy is provided by VCS Insurance, in which AdviceUK holds a majority share.

If you have questions not answered above please feel free to contact us.