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personal engineer insurance for past projects

personal engineer insurance for past projects

personal engineer insurance for past projects

(OP)
I want to protect myself from lawsuit due negligence not only from client and but also my employer (like if client sue employer and me and employer sue me also). I don't really know if employer can even sue me for negligence.

I want a personal insurance for negligence whoever sue me (client or employer) for all my projects (past, present and future).

Is it possible to get insurance including all my past projects as well.
I'm concerned because I'm the only civil engineer in my company office location. When I stamp drawings, my work is not peer reviewed for errors.

RE: personal engineer insurance for past projects

(OP)
I am not in any lawsuit as of the moment (and hopefully never). fyi.

RE: personal engineer insurance for past projects

(OP)
is ASCE PLI the one I should be using for this case? anyone knows how much this cost.
I don't do any side jobs.
I'm employed by my employer (corporation) but stamp drawings.

RE: personal engineer insurance for past projects

I could be wrong, but... if the client sues your employer, you'll end up being part of the case regardless. You should be covered by your employer's insurance... if you're not, warning bells should be going off in your head.

I'm not sure of the legal morass of an employer suing an employee... I imagine it could be done, but the case to be made would be interesting, to say the least.

Dan - Owner
http://www.Hi-TecDesigns.com

RE: personal engineer insurance for past projects

Check with your employer. You likely are covered for work via them.

RE: personal engineer insurance for past projects

My understanding- liability coverage covers you for work you do while you have the insurance. So work you did in 2012 is covered by whatever insurance you had in 2012, even if you get sued now. And therefore, no way to buy coverage now for work you did then. I could be wrong- check with the insurance people to confirm.

RE: personal engineer insurance for past projects

jstephen is correct, you cannot buy retroactive insurance coverage

first, make sure your employer had/has insurance
second, if your employer goes out of business, there may be no insurance to cover you; and your new employer definitely will not
third if you leave the company, you will not have any reimbursement for your time to visit with attorneys and appear in court if it comes to that.

RE: personal engineer insurance for past projects

(OP)
Looking at ASCE PLI they have claims-made/prior act which means you can insure prior work as long as the time of insurance application, you don't have any pending lawsuit.

RE: personal engineer insurance for past projects

Quote:

I want a personal insurance for negligence whoever sue me (client or employer) for all my projects (past, present and future).

You can buy a policy that covers you for "prior bad acts" (I believe the language used). You just have to be sure the policy includes that because most don't.

This is a deep topic. I've discussed it with my attorney in the past.....and his thoughts on it were (if there was a lawsuit that involved my work that I was named as a co-defendant on): I could not face personal liability unless it can be shown that I was acting outside the scope of my work for the corporation. (Or doing something criminally negligent/wrong.)

Of course, I've never been 100% sure if this is just applicable in my state (South Carolina) or everywhere.

RE: personal engineer insurance for past projects

By the way, I am currently working for myself. (My own LLC.) One thing my attorney got me to include is a statement in the operating agreement of the company that indemnifies me (personally) for all work I perform as a agent of my company.

It might be worth asking if the company you work for has such language in their operating agreement and/or about their liability insurance.

Given what he told me (that I posted in my last post), I have to wonder why such language is necessary in the first place. (Maybe to just make it explicit or to separate you from your company.)

RE: personal engineer insurance for past projects

Quote (WARose)

By the way, I am currently working for myself. (My own LLC.) One thing my attorney got me to include is a statement in the operating agreement of the company that indemnifies me (personally) for all work I perform as a agent of my company.
That sounds... dubious. No one else sees your operating agreement, and it's a piece of paper that (arguably) says you can do whatever you want with impunity. I feel like there's more to it than what's been presented (like barring gross negligence, at a bare minimum).

Dan - Owner
http://www.Hi-TecDesigns.com

RE: personal engineer insurance for past projects

Quote:

That sounds... dubious. No one else sees your operating agreement, and it's a piece of paper that (arguably) says you can do whatever you want with impunity. I feel like there's more to it than what's been presented (like barring gross negligence, at a bare minimum).

As I pointed out above......nothing will protect you if we are talking criminal level activity. But if it's normal E&O.....this clarifies where the liability is at. It's a standard part of any well written operating agreement. (After all, that is the purpose of having a LLC or a INC in the first place. (I.e. limiting liability.))

RE: personal engineer insurance for past projects

OP, I once felt as you did. I never found individual liability insurance. What I do suggest is that you consult with an attorney who is experienced in liability suits to help you come up with a plan. They do this a lot for doctors, and basically your goal is to put up as many hurdles as possible for a potential plaintiff to jump before getting to your assets. Each state has different rules, so your strategy will differ depending on where you live. For example, in my state, property that is jointly owned is offered great legal protection, so I opted to put the house in a joint title in lieu of only me or my wife. IRA's have different exposure than 401k's. Money in your kids bank accounts gets treated differently, etc.

whatever you do, you have to do it sooner than later. If you set all this up and get sued 6 months later, it makes it easier for plaintiffs to bypass.

RE: personal engineer insurance for past projects

There is some information above that really needs to be taken with a pound or two of salt.

When I got my P.E. I was working for a major Oil & Gas company and the day after I found out I passed the test I got an all-expense paid trip to Houston to have a talk with Legal. What they told me was scary:
  • If I stamped something for the company, if I'm sued the company is prohibited by law from providing counsel or from participating in my case in any way (including requiring me to take vacation to attend depositions or trials)
  • The company could not provide me with insurance
  • The company would not change my pay scale because of the P.E.
  • They could not give me legal advice, but they said that if it were them, they would lock up the P.E. stamp in an offsite safe and not pull it out until after retirement.
This was a company that did not hold itself out to the public as an engineering firm. The rules are different for consulting engineering firms, but you need to make ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN that your name is on your employers policy before you stamp anything. Your name. Not "and employees as directed".

As to retroactive insurance. Let's say you had Allstate insurance on your vehicle in 2012 and had an accident that was settled and paid for. At the end of 2012 you changed to State Farm. In 2018 you had a problem with your car that the shop said was absolutely caused by the 2012 accident, and the repairs done in 2012 just missed it (no negligence). Would you expect a claim to Allstate (without a current policy number) to get a favorable response? E&O policies are the same way, they are only in force while premiums are paid in full. That is why I've never shopped for less expensive policies. If a job I did in 2015 ends up in court, then (since the policy I currently have was the one that was in force in 2015) my insurance carrier would be liable up to the limits of the policy. If I had changed carriers after 2015, I'd be on my own.

David Simpson, PE
MuleShoe Engineering

In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual. Galileo Galilei, Italian Physicist

RE: personal engineer insurance for past projects

Quote:

This was a company that did not hold itself out to the public as an engineering firm. The rules are different for consulting engineering firms, but you need to make ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN that your name is on your employers policy before you stamp anything. Your name. Not "and employees as directed".

You think (for example) a multi-billion dollar EPC firm is going to mention the hundreds (if not thousands) of stamping engineers in their policy? Somehow I have a hard time picturing that happening. To be sure there could be language that could cover employees. You just have to be sure it was there.

Either that or hope the "deep pockets" theory will work......or just don't practice (not a option for a lot of folks).

Another thing to keep an eye on is having (in addition to your own stamp) the Certificate of Authorization (of your company) stamp on the drawings. (If applicable in the state it is stamped in.) This creates a further firewall when it comes to liability.

RE: personal engineer insurance for past projects

Never worked for a company with hundreds or thousands of P.E. The firms I know of in Oil & Gas EPC might have one P.E. for every 50 engineers. I don't know if even that small percentage is named on the policy, but I know that my insurance guy says he writes riders for new engineers by name fairly often on EPC policies. I don't know what "fairly often" means.

David Simpson, PE
MuleShoe Engineering

In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual. Galileo Galilei, Italian Physicist

RE: personal engineer insurance for past projects

I have never encountered an employer in the A/E industry who has an insurance policy that names the engineer to cover the engineer's PERSONAL liability. In fact, in some states this is expressly forbidden.

This is just like when you drive a car (even a rental) to the jobsite and wreck on the way. It is your personal car insurance that kicks in, not the company's.

RE: personal engineer insurance for past projects

Quote:

The firms I know of in Oil & Gas EPC might have one P.E. for every 50 engineers.

Some of the companies I have worked for (i.e. Jacobs, to name one).....just about every last engineer in the department(s) were licensed. (With the exception of the new grads.)

RE: personal engineer insurance for past projects

That is interesting. I've consulted for Jacobs out of 4 different offices and in all of those offices, P.E. designation on business cards is rare. My stack of Jacobs cards is about 30 and only 2 have P.E., but I guess that was just 5 anomalous offices.

David Simpson, PE
MuleShoe Engineering

In questions of science, the authority of a thousand is not worth the humble reasoning of a single individual. Galileo Galilei, Italian Physicist

RE: personal engineer insurance for past projects

Quote:

That is interesting. I've consulted for Jacobs out of 4 different offices and in all of those offices, P.E. designation on business cards is rare. My stack of Jacobs cards is about 30 and only 2 have P.E., but I guess that was just 5 anomalous offices.

Could be you were dealing with Project Managers (or other management types)......or possibly someone in their construction group. Furthermore, a lot of companies have dropped putting "PE" on business cards because if you presented it in a state where you are not registered......that could be an issue.

In any case, when I worked in their Greenville (SC) office some years back......the only people in that department that were not licensed were designers/drafters and people only a few years out of school. Same thing in the electrical, mechanical, etc groups as well.

RE: personal engineer insurance for past projects

I imagine there is ways to get insurance on past projects. Insurance companies exist to make money and have experience quantifying risk. I imagine it would be expensive due to the fact that there is a chance that you know something about these projects or the very fact that you are looking for past coverage paints them in a risky light.

RE: personal engineer insurance for past projects

A company that carries their own E&O insurance will indemnify their employees. There is no way to prevent getting personally sued. But unless you are very wealthy, no lawyer cares about the percentage of collection he/she could get from your shallow pockets, anyways. There is basically no motivation to go after the employee when all the money to be had sits in the employer's insurance policy. There are no such things as personal E&O policies for individuals. So, the only 100% E&O protection you can afford yourself is to get out of engineering, or at least never seal anything.

RE: personal engineer insurance for past projects

Quote:

There is no way to prevent getting personally sued. But unless you are very wealthy, no lawyer cares about the percentage of collection he/she could get from your shallow pockets, anyways. There is basically no motivation to go after the employee when all the money to be had sits in the employer's insurance policy.

I've always hoped the "deep pockets" theory will work as well. But I'm not so sure how well it would. It doesn't take much to attract those scavengers. My mother got sued once (by a slip and fall con man) for about 20 k. (The settlement was for 10.)

IIRC, the EOR has to be named as a co-defendant in a E&O type lawsuit. Not 100% sure how the damages would be broken up.....and don't want to find out either.

This is one of the reasons I went into business for myself: the indemnification clause in the operating agreement of my company. I'm fairly certain that other companies I have worked for do not have such language to protect those of us further down the food chain.

All this stuff is why I have tried (with no success) to get all my relatives to leave me out of their wills. There are a lot family assets coming my way at some point.....and I just worry about being a target.

Of course, even without engineering you've got the same worries when it comes to car wrecks, etc.

RE: personal engineer insurance for past projects

when an attorney files a claim, they have no idea who is insured or not or who has deep pockets. so they will name every individual and corporation they can on the initial complaint and add any more they find during discovery. they can even serve your spouse. They will use the old adage "just throw it at the wall and see what sticks".

RE: personal engineer insurance for past projects

@WArose,

Does that mean you do not carry insurance?

RE: personal engineer insurance for past projects

Quote:

@WArose,

Does that mean you do not carry insurance?

Yes, I carry it. Some of my clients require I carry I certain amount. But I'd be surprised if (in the case of a disaster) the amount would be that or less. That's where the indemnification clause in the operating agreement of my company might come in handy.

I know some people who run engineering LLCs/INCs that carry no E&O insurance. They feel it just makes them a target.

RE: personal engineer insurance for past projects

I'm no attorney, but isn't an indemnification clause only preventing your employer from suing you? The contractual relationship between an employee and employer means little to the party initiating the suit.

RE: personal engineer insurance for past projects

Quote:

I'm no attorney, but isn't an indemnification clause only preventing your employer from suing you? The contractual relationship between an employee and employer means little to the party initiating the suit.

Nothing will protect you from being named as a co-defendant in a lawsuit. But an employer (or anyone else) indemnifying you from losses (totally) means the judgement would be their responsibility.

RE: personal engineer insurance for past projects

Don't assume that just because your employer is insured, that you are insured.

If a project ends up in litigation, the injured party AND your employer can sue you for damages. It has happened.

ALWAYS get an indemnify, defend and hold blameless agreement with your employer. And, make sure they have adequate insurance and that it includes you.

If you can't get the agreement, DO NOT SEAL DRAWINGS.

Also, remember you are still not protected if you employer goes out of business.

Good Luck

RE: personal engineer insurance for past projects

Quote (havesealwilltravel)

ALWAYS get an indemnify, defend and hold blameless agreement with your employer. And, make sure they have adequate insurance and that it includes you.

I'm interested in how many structural engineers have this in place. Haven't heard of it at any of the 4 firms I've worked for.

I've asked to see the firm insurance before, but never an agreement with employees that stamp drawings.

I would definitely be interested in a boilerplate employee agreement. Seems like ASCE/SEA would be all over this if it was the upmost importance to its members.

As a engineer whom mainly stamps my own work, and has had some shorter tenures in my career, long term liability has always been on my radar.

RE: personal engineer insurance for past projects

GerryBertier,

In simple form:

XYZCorporation agrees to hold harmless and indemnify any Professional Engineer from any and all liability, including all cost of defense, arising out of the performance of their professional services performed for XYZCorporation.

I have had these in place with least 4 employers.

I refused to seal any drawings without a similar agreement signed by a corporate officer. It's just too risky.

With this in place, if you make a mistake, your employer cannot sue you and if there is a financial settlement, you won't be wiped out by the settlement or lawyer fees.

RE: personal engineer insurance for past projects

How concerned are you really?

So how about it? How much would any of you pay for this non-existent personal E&O coverage even if it did exist?

RE: personal engineer insurance for past projects

Terratek,

I am very concerned and you should be too.

I realize that anyone can make a mistake anytime. Bad things happen to good people.

I don't want to risk my savings in the event something happens. I want all the "insurance" I can get.

Even though the chance of your house burning down is very, very low, I'll bet you have fire insurance on it. Why??? "How concerned are you really?"

In the past, I've seen NEAR disasters on construction projects I was involved with. They would have resulted in massive damage and possibly deaths. The errors weren't my fault, but since I sealed the drawings, I certainly would have been sucked into the resulting litigation. The legal costs of getting the courts to remove me from the lawsuits would have been EXTREMELY costly.

Currently, I'm near retirement. I don't seal anything anymore. They can always find someone else to seal the drawings. (Some engineers seem to think that sealing drawings is some kind of an honor.) I'm still a P.E. and still put my absolute best into my work, but I don't have to worry about liability.

Anyone who takes a risk that they don't have to take should seriously examine their life choices.

RE: personal engineer insurance for past projects

Lots of hyperbole. How much would you pay?

Seriously. This entire conversations is useless if nobody would pay for it.

RE: personal engineer insurance for past projects

Quote:

How much would you pay?

That's a judgement call everyone has to make (i.e. risks vs. costs).

But if someone is buying their own E&O insurance already....."prior bad acts" is pretty good language to add to the policy. I've worked at several places that had that in their policy.

RE: personal engineer insurance for past projects

Unless somebody has a $$$ amount they have considered they'd be willing to pay as an employee (not self employed) then I think this topic is mental masturbation, not a real concern.

RE: personal engineer insurance for past projects

Quote:

Unless somebody has a $$$ amount they have considered they'd be willing to pay as an employee (not self employed) then I think this topic is mental masturbation, not a real concern.

There may be someone who fits that bill (you never know). And in any case, it turned into a topic of general liability, so I don't see what harm it does. Lawyers give seminars on this all the time. In my case, I'm sharing what I have learned from my own attorney (for free).

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