Architects design buildings and other structures, and often oversee the actual construction of a project. The preparation of plans and construction documents includes all of the detailed specifications of type and grade of construction material, and the size, space, location, and grade of land. The architect is often a part of the actual construction operation, consults and monitors the operation, and is available for clarification, advice, and updates/modifications to the original plan. Landscape architects, in addition to assisting landscape contractors, may also advise city planning departments. Architects often use the services of engineers, or may also be trained as engineers to confirm or develop the specifications of detailed portions of a project. Both need to be concerned with rules, codes, and regulations, as well as the physical sciences of the project under development. Architects are not limited to designing new buildings, but provide a multitude of other design services, such as renovation of existing buildings, highways, bridges, dams, marine facilities, and a variety of health and entertainment complexes.
Minimum recommended coverage:
Business Personal Property, Business Income with Extra Expense, Employee Dishonesty, Accounts Receivable, Computers, Special Floater, Valuable Papers and Records, General Liability, Employee Benefits Liability, Professional Liability, Umbrella Liability, Hired and Nonownership Auto Liability, Workers Compensation
Other coverages to consider:
Building, Equipment Breakdown, Computer Fraud, Forgery, Money and Securities, Employment-related Practices Liability, Business Automobile Liability and Physical Damage
Property exposure is generally limited to that of an office, although there may be some incidental storage or an area for meetings. Hazards arise from the considerable amount of paper and computer equipment. Fire sources could include wiring, wear, and overheating of equipment.
Crime exposure is from employee dishonesty. Hazards increase without proper background checks, along with monitoring procedures and securing of all records to prevent unauthorized access. All job duties, such as ordering, billing and disbursing should be separate and reconciled on a regular basis. Audits should be performed at least annually.
Inland marine exposures involve accounts receivable, computers, special floaters, and valuable papers and records. The computers are extremely sophisticated and specific for each job, and may have custom programming. All software and data should be on backup disks and stored off site. Power failure and power surges are potentially severe hazards. The job will determine the equipment that is needed off site. Proper packing and security is necessary. The valuable papers include drawings that are on the boards. It is important to have duplicates and that all be stored in fireproof cabinets.
Premises liability exposure is limited due to lack of public access at the office location. Off-site exposures include job sites and clients’ offices. There should be policies and training as to off-site conduct by employees.
Professional liability exposure is extensive. The types of jobs accepted require varied levels of knowledge and expertise and determine the potential for loss. For example, bridge design will require a different type of knowledge than a one-family dwelling. The loss potential should a bridge collapse could be catastrophic. All employees who design should have appropriate accreditations and licensing, and should meet continuing education requirements. Hazards may arise if clerical workers are allowed to do tasks that only the professionals should handle, if error checking procedures are ignored, or are inadequate. Very serious losses may result from failure to document decisions and actions or to secure client approval. Failure to conduct thorough background checks to verify credentials and education poses a significant risk.
Automobile exposure is generally limited to hired and non-owned and rental exposure. If vehicles are provided to employees, there should be clear procedures in place regarding personal use by employees and their family members. The age, training, experience, and records of each driver, as well as age, condition, and maintenance of the vehicles, are all important items to consider.
Workers compensation exposure will vary based on type of job. Concerns at the office include eyestrain, neck strain, carpal tunnel syndrome, and similar cumulative trauma injuries that can be addressed through ergonomically designed workstations. Some firms have significant off-site exposures, primarily to inspect jobsites and projects underway, which may include such exposures as bridge work, oil derricks and housing developments. There must be an awareness of past jobs in order to determine the future exposure. Protective equipment may be required.