Do I need contractor insurance when working overseas as an engineer?

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Sarah Henderson
28 Jul 2022 @ 09:25 am
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One of the joys of being an engineering contractor is that you’re not tied to working in one location – or even just one country. Many of our customers – particularly those working in global sectors such as engineering– find themselves working all over the world for various clients. However, working overseas can bring up a whole set of questions about insurance that contractors don’t always have ready answers to. Thankfully, when it comes to insurance, Kingsbridge can help.

If you’re wondering if you need contractor insurance when working abroad, the short answer is that yes, you do. Of course, you need different types of insurance to cover your contractor business for different reasons so we’re going to take you through them to give you a good idea of why you need them when working overseas.

 

Public liability insurance

Public liability protects your limited company against claims from anyone who have had their property damaged as a result of your work, or who have been physically injured due to your work.

Imagine you are a sound engineer who is hired to work on a film shooting on location in the Netherlands. While you are wiring a cast member for sound, a camera operator trips over some of your equipment and breaks his ankle, meaning he has to pay for emergency treatment in the Netherlands before returning to the UK and abandoning the shoot. As a result of this, he successfully makes a claim against you. Your public liability insurance would cover his medical fees and any compensation payment owed, saving you from having to take the money, which you may not be able to afford, out of your business.

 

Professional indemnity cover

Professional indemnity cover is designed to protect you from claims of professional negligence by clients. This might include things like accidentally exposing confidential data, providing incorrect advice, or making a mistake in your work for them. Errors such as these will have financial implications for your client, who would then make a claim against you to recover the costs.

For instance, say you were a structural engineer, working for a client based in Paris. You have been asked to undertake calculations for the stresses of a new roof structure for a central public building. During the construction phase, it becomes apparent that your calculations are wrong, causing delays and additional costs to the client. Your client makes a claim against you, but your professional indemnity cover is able to do the financial heavy lifting – protecting you and your business from a substantial claim.

 

Employers’ liability cover

Employers’ liability insurance does sometimes raise an eyebrow with contractors, who usually wonder why they need it when their limited company consists of just them. Despite this, employers’ liability is a legal requirement if you employ any staff at all which includes: freelancers, part-time workers, volunteers, people completing work experience, family members helping with administrative tasks, and substitute contractors (as per your right to substitution). Most contracts require you to hold it as standard for this reason. It covers employee illness or injury, plus related legal expenses, where you are held liable.

Say you’re an electrical engineer working out in Dubai. Unfortunately, a couple of weeks into your role you come down with a virus and have to take a few days off to recover. So that the project doesn’t fall behind, you decide to recruit a local electrical engineer you’ve worked with before to be your substitute until you’re well enough to return to work. While at the client’s office, your substitute trips over some equipment you left out and hurts themselves. Your employers’ liability would cover you in the event of a claim.

 

Directors’ and officers’ liability insurance

Directors’ and officers’ liability cover, sometimes referred to as D&O insurance, covers you as the director of your limited company against compensation claims arising from accusations of wrongful acts. Wrongful acts could include health and safety issues, breaches of company law, negligence, defamation, legislative breaches, or financial mismanagement – any of which could result in you being sued.

When working overseas, it may be the case that you’re not completely au fait with local business laws and regulations, making it easy to inadvertently find yourself in breach of them. If this happens, you could well find yourself on the wrong end of a lawsuit, but your D&O cover will step in to help.

 

Personal accident cover

Occupational personal accident cover is there to protect you financially should you suffer an accident while working that means you then have to take time off. The policy covers you for up to £500 per week for a maximum of 52 weeks, and you can also claim a lump sum should you be left permanently unable to work. If the worst were to happen in the course of your work, then your loved ones could claim a lump sum payable to your estate in the event of your death. The cover includes your journey to and from work, working at a client’s premises, or working from your home, office or other workplace.

This type of cover can give real peace of mind to contractors working overseas. For example, imagine you’re a civil engineer working in the cyclist-friendly city of Geneva. You decide to hire a bike and cycle to and from your client’s office in order to boost your green credentials. However, you are involved in an accident and break both legs, resulting in multiple surgeries, physiotherapy and a year off work to recover. As the accident happened on your way to work, your personal accident insurance would provide you with financial support, up to the level of your benefit, for the year you are off.

 

Kingsbridge’s insurance for engineering contractors includes all of the above insurances in one handy package. International cover (excluding the USA and Canada) is included as standard for contractors working overseas. Cover for the USA and Canada can be quoted for, if needed. Contact our expert team for more information or if you are looking for cover for the USA or Canada. For a fast quote, use our online quote page today.