Professional indemnity insurance for small business building surveyors

On 2 December 2019 the Combined Small Business Alliance of Western Australia Inc. (CoSBA) wrote to Tom Dickson, Principal Advisor, Deregulation Taskforce CANBERRA with copies to Hon. Karen Andrews, Minister for Industry, Science and Technology; Hon. Michaelia Cash, Minister for Small Business; Australian Institute of Building Surveyors: Insurance Council of Australia.
RE: Professional indemnity insurance for small business building surveyors
We refer to a letter to Hon. Karen Andrews, MP, Minister for Industry, Science and Technology by the Australian Institute of Building Surveyors (AIBS) of 6 August 2019 (copy attached), for which we assert our unequivocal support.
The letter states, in part: “. . , while the Building Ministers’ Forum has taken welcome steps towards
improving standards throughout the sector over a longer period of time [emphasis added], AIBS remains deeply concerned that these measures will not provide immediate relief [emphasis added] for building surveyors faced right now [emphasis added] with unworkable professional indemnity insurance renewals.”
And:
“The increasing tightening of the professional indemnity insurance market is placing industry and many professionals who work in the sector in very grave circumstances indeed. [emphasis added] During July alone, AIBS has received notifications from a number of building surveying firms who are closing their doors due to the impossibility of continuing to work with inadequate and unaffordable insurance cover [emphasis added]. These professionals are telling us they cannot continue without full insurance cover [emphasis added], which of course is an expectation of their clients, as well as the general public, especially building owners.”
As you would be aware many building surveyors are small businesses with families who by the action of the insurance industry have forced them to abandon their professions and careers, and additionally, as stated by AIBS: This represents a significant loss to industry of professional knowledge and expertise.
The AIBS states that, the Building Ministers’ Forum has taken welcome steps towards improving
standards throughout the sector over a longer period of time . . . remains deeply concerned, we too are deeply concerned that these measures will not provide immediate relief for building surveyors faced right now with unworkable professional indemnity insurance renewals, causing these small businesses to be forced from the industry, their professions and their livelihoods, which in our understanding, we would suggest, is inconsistent with government policy concerning small business.
Given the manner in which the building surveyors have hitherto operated ostensibly unfettered by the cost of professional indemnity insurance, it would be fair to say that this action operates to make it, by proxy, a highly regulated sector. In addition, the prohibitive cost of the insurance, in fact, operates as a one-size-fits-all model, notwithstanding that building surveyors operate under levels of state/territory certification and those that work on buildings that are not over three storeys are in the main small businesses.
As you would agree, this is an untenable situation that requires urgent immediate action, and not on the never-never “over a longer period of time”, and in so doing we respectfully request the indulgence of the Prime Minister’s Deregulation Taskforce, the Hon. Karen Andrews, Minister for Industry, Science and Technology and the Hon. Michaelia Cash, Minister for Small Business in taking the necessary steps to give immediate effect to bring this matter to a satisfactory and timely conclusion so as to provide immediate relief for small business building surveyors faced right now with unworkable professional indemnity insurance renewals.
For the numerous out of work small business building surveyors throughout the country this is a highly significant issue, which is of a magnitude too important to be ignored or falsely assessed as being untrue. Winston Churchill is reported to have suggested: “The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.”