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Liability to attack

The Prime Minister recently highlighted a desire for architects to help ‘design out’ terrorist opportunities. Plans put forward focus on toughening existing buildings and taking security precautions into account in the basic planning of new projects.
Cinemas, theatres, restaurants, hotels, sporting venues, hospitals, places of worship and any areas where large numbers of people are likely to congregate were specifically named by the report.

While the CABE admitted it had not been consulted, the report went on to suggest that adding a specialist anti-terror module to architectural training has been put forward.

But, 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.

The former risk should be covered by a firm’s contingency cover or business interruption insurance. But, since the terrible events of 9/11, the insurance market placed a total terrorism exclusion within all architectural professional indemnity policies.

Specialist Professional Indemnity (PI) brokers have managed to negotiate 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.

So what does this mean for architectural practices? 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 would recommend that practices consult a specialist PI broker to review their current policies.

Ted Jones
Head of architects PI team