Finding the right insurance for your drafting business is an important step in protecting your business and achieving long-term success.
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One of the best ways to protect you and your firm from unpleasant lawsuits is by purchasing a comprehensive business insurance policy. Even in the absence of a lawsuit, your company may face unfortunate events like natural disasters, theft, or employee injuries. Business insurance can provide coverage and financial security throughout these untimely circumstances. Coverages for injury, property damage, and professional errors can reduce your chances of financial trouble if a lawsuit does occur.
You may want to purchase business insurance if:
- You would like to insure your services and practice against claims of poor performance or errors in your work
- You employ others
- You provide benefits to your employees like health insurance or a 401(k)
- You work in an office that you lease or own and store valuable equipment or property in that office
- Clients or vendors visit your office
What insurance coverage do I need as a draftsman?
Most businesses share common insurance needs, which include such policies as general liability insurance and commercial property insurance. For drafters, it is particularly important to obtain professional liability insurance, given the level of technical skill required for your profession and the amount of complexity in the product that you work on. Mistakes are bound to happen, and an unhappy client deciding to file a lawsuit is an all-too-common occurrence in design work. Below we explain some of the more common business insurance coverages that draftsmen should consider.
Professional Liability Insurance
Drafting work involves highly detailed schematics and complex digital models, where one small mistake or omission could lead to the failure of a product or building. Because of this possibility for error, drafters can be the target of lawsuits from unhappy clients. Even if you perform your job correctly, a client can still sue you if they believe your work was faulty in some way.
Professional liability insurance, also known as errors & omissions insurance, can protect you from client lawsuits that stem from the performance of your professional work. In addition, unlike most professional liability policies, professional liability for drafters typically includes coverage for bodily injury and property damage that results from your work. Professional liability insurance is truly one of the most important coverages a drafter can obtain, as building design professionals are highly susceptible to professional liability claims.
- Errors: Your firm creates a technical drawing for an automatic car wash system for a local car manufacturer, but you mistakenly leave out a critical joint in the machinery. The car wash system begins to malfunction within 3 months and the car manufacturer must shut the system down for three weeks in order to fix your mistake. They sue you for damages.
- Performance: Your firm is hired to draft plans for a roller coaster in an amusement park. The plans you hand in are incomplete, and the engineers cannot begin working on the project without hiring another firm to finish them. The project is delayed, costing the owners hundreds of thousands of dollars.
- Property damage: You are hired to draft the blueprints for a commercial office building. The project is large and complex, and in your haste, you miss some key parts of the structural walls in your drawings. Due to this error, after construction is completed, one of the structural walls collapses, damaging equipment and furniture inside the office building.
General Liability Insurance
General liability insurance, or commercial general liability, can protect your business from lawsuits that claim property damage or bodily injury caused by your business or your employees. This is a common coverage for all business types, as accidents can happen no matter what industry you’re in. A client visiting your office may slip and fall, or one of your employees may accidentally damage a client’s property—these sorts of events would be covered under general liability. The four types of coverage included in general liability insurance are: products & completed operations, property damage, bodily injury, and personal & advertising injury.
- Property damage: You visit a client’s factory for an upcoming project. As you are inspecting their factory floor machinery, you accidentally knock over some expensive equipment. Your general liability policy would cover the damages.
- Bodily injury: An architect from a firm that you are partnering with comes into your office to go over some technical drawings for a new block of residential apartments. They are leaning in a doorway to talk with a manager, when a coworker accidently shuts the door on their hand. Four of the architect’s fingers are caught in the hinge, and two are broken. The architect must go to the hospital to receive stitches and a cast for the injury. Your firm’s general liability policy would cover the architect’s medical payments.
Workers’ Compensation Insurance
Workers’ compensation insurance provides financial benefits to employees who suffer work-related illnesses or injuries while employed by your business. In many states, businesses that have employees are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. In exchange for accepting workers’ comp benefits, an injured employee agrees to not sue your business for the injury. Workers’ compensation insurance is no-fault, which means that it pays benefits regardless of whether the employer or employee is at fault for the injury.
Worker’s compensation can cover the costs of:
- Funeral expenses
- Disability benefits
- Medical expenses
- Rehabilitation costs
- Death benefits
- A portion of lost wages
- One of your drafters is given an unusually high workload. She develops carpal tunnel syndrome and is not able to do any work for the next two weeks. Workers’ compensation insurance will cover the costs of her treatment and a portion of her wages while she is unable to work.
Commercial Property Insurance
Commercial property insurance helps cover the buildings that your business owns, as well as other owned property and property under your care. If an unforeseen accident or natural disaster hits your business, having property insurance can help your company recover. Commonly covered perils include fire, lightning, explosion, windstorm, hail, theft, and vandalism.
- Buildings: One of your employees brings in a small space heater to use under his desk. The heater is placed too close to the wall and ends up causing a fire, damaging a large area. Commercial property insurance would cover the damage caused by the fire.
- Contents: Your office has a supply room where it stores extra computer equipment. One of your colleagues props the door open on a hot summer day to let the air in, and accidentally allows a burglar inside instead. All of the computer equipment is stolen. Your commercial property policy covers the costs to replace the equipment.
Valuable Papers and Records Coverage
As a draftsman, you may be in possession of drawings, blueprints, and client files that are particularly important to your business. Though it is always best to make copies of important documents and back them up by digitizing them, mistakes can happen. Valuable papers and records coverage will reimburse you for the monetary value of important documents or the cost of repairing and replacing them. A standard commercial property insurance policy will have some coverage for these valuable documents, but the standard policy will likely not be sufficient to cover the value of certain papers and records or the significant cost it would take to replace them.
- You store all of your technical drawings and blueprints in a few filing cabinets in your supply closet. Many of these files are older files that you made before your company went fully digital. When a pipe above the supply closet bursts overnight, water seeps into the storage cabinets and ruins them. In order to repair and recreate these files, you need to hire outside help and task some of your staff to this project.
Business Owner’s Policy
A business owner’s policy, also known as a “BOP,” is a special bundling of policies that can provide coverage for risks that are common to small business owners. BOPs combine property, general liability, and business income and extra expense insurance coverages for qualified small businesses. Importantly, a business owner’s policy can help you save money, with lower premiums than buying the individual coverages separately.
As a draftsman, it is your job to turn rough sketches and specifications into actionable technical drawings. Your work requires great attention to detail, and many of your projects may be incredibly complex. Though you may be certified and capable, even a small mistake can lead to a bigger problem for your clients, raising the potential of client lawsuits against your firm. One of the most important coverages for draftsmen is professional liability insurance. With a professional liability policy, your firm can protect itself financially from lawsuits related to your work.
Moreover, other coverages like commercial property and general liability insurance can protect you from the unexpected dangers that all businesses face, including natural disasters and slip-and-fall accidents. It’s wise to be concerned about the financial safety of your business. Consider purchasing a comprehensive business insurance package in order to protect both your business and your employees.