PI for surveyors: developing a safety net

Professional Indemnity (PI) is always a subject that creates tremendous discussion and emotion. Whereas we all understand and recognise the need for an insurance scheme to cover us in the case of something going horribly wrong, there has to be a balance.

For starters, premiums need to be more realistic and affordable; at the moment, insurance premiums across all sectors seem to be heading one way, and that’s up. Secondly, customers should be prepared to share more of the risk.

It sits uncomfortably with me that lenders are very quick to criticise and seek redress from a valuer when there is a problem, but tend not to show the same level of alacrity in their praise of a valuer when his skill/expertise has helped them reap handsome returns.

So here is a radical thought: what about creating an industry wide PI safety net for valuers/surveyors, paid for by the customers they represent? What if for every scheme that delivers a return, a small percentage of that uplift goes into an emergency sinking fund to assist valuers who, for whatever reason, may have made a mistake within a defined period that either dramatically increases their PI premiums, or causes a narrowing of PI cover that is available to them?

Within our industry, we know of businesses that have been forced into administration as a direct result of PI difficulties. Surveyors are already under pressure from the mounting costs of regulation and compliance, against a background of increasing uncertainty from Brexit and a possible change of government.

A ‘partnership’ between all ‘stakeholders’ in the system would be at least one step in the right direction, and one worthy of further discussion.