What use is Professional Indemnity Insurance to professional trainers? Do we pay it to make us feel more involved in the profession or because it helps either us or our clients?

My organisation pays a tremendous amount to PI insurers every year and has done since we began trading. Even with Institute and other (CIPD, IITT and BCS) 'discount' deals, it is still a very expensive commodity. And what does it actually provide?

It makes our clients feel that they have a level of cover - but they would probably not be able to verbalise what they would be able to claim for - and it means that we can tender for public sector work but it is basically money down the drain, as my recent experience has taught.

A 'reputable' training provider with whom we are in direct competition decided towards the end of last year to write to some of our clients claiming that our product was in breach of the Trades Descriptions Act and offering to help our clients make a claim for damages against us. A number of our clients informed us of this intrusion and I then began to take legal advice (including the BCS legal helpline, which was great), all of which pointed towards Defamation (although I was not aware until then that an organisation could be Defamed, I thought it was only individuals). I was advised to contact my PI insurers to support a claim against the organisation because without support with legal fees a claim against a large organisation was impossible for us - and that is the way that bullies win!

I was relieved to find that my PI insurers accepted that claim form and that they would get back to me about funding a Defamation claim against the other organisation. They finally confirmed that they would support our claim - in August of this year, almost 12 months after the event!

My initial anger, frustration and, I must confess, sadness at the tactics of the competitor organisation which led me to make the claim in the first place has died down and I am not aware of any damage to our reputation, (although the competitor organisation's reputation has been tarnished by this) so I am not going to take them up on the claim. Of course, this saves the PI insurers a lot of money in legal fees, so their tactics have worked.

I can't imagine what possible damage we could do to an organisation that we work with that would warrant a client claiming against us and if they won't protect us against malicious anti-competitive tactics such as we were subjected to last year, then what is the point of PI Insurance?

Can anyone tell me why I should continue to do this?

About the author

Jooli Atkins (FBCS, CITP) has been involved in the IT profession for the past 25 years, mainly in Learning and Development. She is the Chair of the BCS Learning and Development specialist group and CITP assessor as well as being an accredited SFIA consultant, specialising in Business Change.