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The RIBA does care about PII premiums

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From AJ 5.2.98 I notice that Andrew James of York is 'desperately seeking sensible premiums' for PII and believes that 'the small fry have been ignored yet again on this issue'.

Andrew can rest assured that the RIBA has been very concerned indeed about this issue ever since the draft ARB code was released for consultation. Furthermore, it has done something practical to help the part-time practitioner to meet the ARB code obligations in this respect.

At the RIBA membership forum in November, the regional and branch chairman Birmingham learned of the details of a low-cost PII scheme for the occasional practitioner. However, Andrew's question shows the need for further broadcasting the principles and reasons for this distinct benefit of RIBAmembership.

When the ARB produced the consultation draft of its code, the RIBA made a full and considered response on PII and other issues, recommending the establishment of a 'de minimis' level or threshold below which PII was not mandatory. This was not adopted although the final ARB code does have some exemptions, generally concerned with architectural teaching rather than practice, despite there being other means by which architects earn their livings which are equally deserving of special consideration. Consequently, ways were sought to protect practising RIBA members from inadvertently or unavoidably falling foul of the final ARB code. This has now been achieved by making available an exclusive 'low-cost', basic PII scheme available to practising RIBA member architects.

The 'performance specification' was as follows:

1. The policy is to offer basic protection for all corporate RIBA members practising as architects on their own account, perhaps part time, at the lowest annual premium possible.

2. The scheme is to be exclusive to corporate RIBAmembers whose personal commissions or employment as an architect amount to no less than £10,000 for the forthcoming year. However, work for which no fee is charged will not be covered.

3. Cover to be for no less than £150,000 in the aggregate or for any one claim, with an excess of £1000 for any one claim.

4. The annual premium should be no more than £50, even if this results in limiting or non-provision of benefits associated with other policies, such as free advice.

5. The administrative procedures for the scheme's operation must be geared to keeping the premium as low as possible. This may entail: few individual supporting documents such as individual certificates.

details of the policy being available on RIBANet, with further information available upon separate application and payment of an appropriate administration charge.

members' application for inclusion in the scheme being with their subscription renewal and premium collection only via credit card number.

central registration of those covered by the policy by the RIBA retroactive dating limiting cover to that work carried out prior to that date.

exclusion of work carried out under other PII policies.

The scheme must not be used as a substitution for retirement or runoff cover.

I now hope that Andrew will, if he is an RIBA member and the scheme meets his requirements, take advantage of this initiative like myself, another 'small fry'. For the spur for this scheme was the fact that I, too, am a part-time practitioner, the rest of my time currently devoted to my vice-presidential duties and what I consider work for which personal PII is simply not relevant.

DAVID YORKE RIBA vice president practice.

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