Last month, Prime Minister Gordon Brown called on architects to help ‘design out’ terrorist opportunities. Plans put forward by Security Minister Lord West focus on toughening existing buildings and considering security precautions in the basic planning of new projects.
However, by placing greater emphasis on the role of architects in the prevention and reduction of the effects of terrorist attacks, the government has unwittingly raised a potential liability issue.
Previously, the main insurance related concerns for architects in relation to terrorism cover were the possible disruption to their business and the potential for an act of terrorism to expose (or be exacerbated by) poor work.
But since 9/11 the insurance market has placed a total terrorism exclusion within all architectural professional indemnity (PI) policies. Specialist PI brokers have managed to negotiate the terrorism coverage written into architects’ policies in very special circumstances. A typical example of this would be an insurer agreeing to make good the faulty work but not pay for the consequential loss.
We believe that the most likely way forward is that the construction industry and government will draw up guidelines that, if followed, will mitigate the majority of any risk to the designer. But until this happens, we recommend practices consult a specialist PI broker.
Ted Jones, head of architects’ PI team, Howden Insurance