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Fifty years of supporting design industry professionals

Time-honored principles and practices driving innovative risk management for architects & engineers

By

Vice President,Loss Prevention and Client Education,Design Professional

In 1971, buying professional liability insurance was quite a challenge for many professions, including architects and engineers. Few were willing to assume the high professional risks of design professionals because losses from lawsuits were soaring, even leading to the collapse of several insurance companies. Insurances premiums for professional liability coverages began to spiral out of control. To find the best ways to help the A/E industry manage their unique professional liability issues and address their insurance needs, a group of industry leaders and backers invested in a new insurance company – the Design Professional Insurance Company, aka DPIC.

Fast forward 50 years, DPIC is now the Design Professional business unit of AXA XL, part of one of the world’s largest insurers and as focused as ever on meeting the quickly changing insurance and risk management needs of architects, engineers across all disciplines, and other design professionals.

While much has changed over the last 50 years, delivering strong insurance coverage, and helping design professionals understand and actively manage their constantly changing professional liability risks are driven by much by the same principles and practices.

Relying on dedicated industry expertise
Effectively managing design professionals’ unique risks requires a deep understanding of their business. This is a key element of our Design Professional team’s success, even 50 years later. We’re deeply involved in the industry including professional groups like the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC), among others.

Likewise, when we started, we handpicked specialty agents and brokers who understood design professional industry challenges. To this day, we continue to work with a dedicated network of broker partners and agents who are dedicated to meeting the needs of architecture, engineering, and consulting firms. Collaborating with them, we make sure our mutual clients get optimal insurance coverage; look at ways we can help them improve their loss prevention practices; and keep them up to date on changes in the market or trends that could impact their firms.

Learning from each other
A specialized insurance company was formed by industry leaders because architectural and engineering firms face special risks. That’s why we also created the Design Professional Risk Control Group (DPRCG), an exclusive risk management group created for large A/E firms.

DPRCG’s members gather for the Convocation, an annual industry-leading conference and networking opportunity. During this event, members are offered a unique opportunity to talk openly about their experiences, even sharing their own claims scenarios and learnings so that others can avoid similar claims. As one member admits, “Every past attendee can recall multiple gems of wisdom they have gained from their peers – insights on practice management issues, lessons learned from projects/client relationships, leadership development – all facilitating stronger risk management practices.”

Helping build solid contracts
Then and now, contracts are a fundamental tool in helping A/E firms manage risks. Recognizing this, back in 1987, we launched our inaugural contract guide -- The Contract Guide: DPIC's Risk Management Handbook for Architects and Engineers -- to help our clients navigate the contracting process and draft a strong contract. The original guide was some 70 pages and addressed about 15 contract topics.

Now online for easier access and continuous updates, The Contract Guide covers more than 133 contract clauses and practice risk management topics with problem-solving strategies, simple explanations of contract language, claims scenarios, negotiation tactics, exhibits, forms and suggested contract language solutions. Most recent updates include guidance related to accessibility, confidentiality, hazardous materials, jobsite safety, and more. Thanks to technology, rather than flipping through pages of material, users can quickly search and retrieve all relevant content related to a keyword or phrase. Using the latest web technologies, it automatically adapts to every device, providing A/E’s instant “on-the-go” access at their fingertips.

Loss prevention education has been, and continues to be, the cornerstone of AXA XL’s Design Professional program.

Sharing 50 years of claims data and insights
Longevity and 50 years of insurance claims data has helped us pinpoint the root cause of claims and provide valuable insights to our clients. To avoid future claims, we use this data to direct our education programs to help clients continuously improve their processes and practices.

Collectively, our claims team has decades of experience resolving A/E claims and even more importantly, avoiding them. Our clients have a habit of enlisting our claims consultants at the first sign of a potential project dispute. In these instances, our claims team opens a Loss Prevention File and employ legal counsel early in the process to see if it can be resolved before a formal claim is filed.

Valuing loss prevention education
Loss prevention education has been, and continues to be, the cornerstone of AXA XL’s Design Professional program. At one time, our team and our brokers would solely deliver loss prevention courses in-person. Again, thanks to technology, new tech platforms allow us to deliver more lessons to more people.

Originally launched in 2009, AXA XL's online Learning Management System (LMS) recently got a new look and a new name. Now called the AXA XL EDGE, the enhanced LMS provides design professionals with 24/7 access to loss prevention education on a platform with upgraded functionality and a more intuitive user experience. The online system offers practical programs based on real claims experience and the industry-leading research conducted by our loss prevention specialists, now made even more useful by adapting today's new technology.

More than 111,000 design professionals currently access our online resources. By taking these courses, our clients become more risk aware. Because they are more attune to where their exposures may lie, firms may also complete specific programs to be eligible for up to 10% premium credit. The courses also qualify for continuing education credits that they may need to maintain their professional designations.

Offering more than an insurance policy
Our attention to loss prevention educations sets us apart as a premier provider in the market. With access to a state-of-the-art learning system, our Contract Guide, a dedicated broker network, open communication on risk topics and a team that has devoted their careers to design professional risk management, collectively we strive to help our clients be the best they can be in the A/E industry.

For the last 50 years, we proudly forged the standard for market-leading design professional risk management. We provided our clients with more than an insurance policy. We provided a long-standing partnership and commitment. While we are not quite sure where the last 5 decades have gone, we’re looking forward to what’s next for design professionals. Whatever it is, we’ll be ready for it.

 

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Global Asset Protection Services, LLC, and its affiliates (“AXA XL Risk Consulting”) provides risk assessment reports and other loss prevention services, as requested. This document shall not be construed as indicating the existence or availability under any policy of coverage for any particular type of loss or damage. AXA XL Risk. We specifically disclaim any warranty or representation that compliance with any advice or recommendation in any publication will make a facility or operation safe or healthful, or put it in compliance with any standard, code, law, rule or regulation. Save where expressly agreed in writing, AXA XL Risk Consulting and its related and affiliated companies disclaim all liability for loss or damage suffered by any party arising out of or in connection with this publication, including indirect or consequential loss or damage, howsoever arising. Any party who chooses to rely in any way on the contents of this document does so at their own risk.

US- and Canada-Issued Insurance Policies

In the US, the AXA XL insurance companies are: AXA Insurance Company, Catlin Insurance Company, Inc., Greenwich Insurance Company, Indian Harbor Insurance Company, XL Insurance America, Inc., XL Specialty Insurance Company and T.H.E. Insurance Company. In Canada, coverages are underwritten by XL Specialty Insurance Company - Canadian Branch and AXA Insurance Company - Canadian branch. Coverages may also be underwritten by Lloyd’s Syndicate #2003. Coverages underwritten by Lloyd’s Syndicate #2003 are placed on behalf of the member of Syndicate #2003 by Catlin Canada Inc. Lloyd’s ratings are independent of AXA XL.
US domiciled insurance policies can be written by the following AXA XL surplus lines insurers: XL Catlin Insurance Company UK Limited, Syndicates managed by Catlin Underwriting Agencies Limited and Indian Harbor Insurance Company. Enquires from US residents should be directed to a local insurance agent or broker permitted to write business in the relevant state.