Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Insurance Matters

This week l have been approached by an interior designer who has been practising in Milan for the past six years. She wanted my advice on how to set up her business in London. During the conversation l asked her if she had PI and PL insurance. l explained that Professional Indemnity insurance is to protect the designer from the consequences of serious professional mistakes and Public Liability is to insure the designer against causing personal injury. Needless to say she had no idea that she could either be held legally responsible for such situations or that it is possible -and essential- to insure oneself in this way.

l remembered an incident, years ago, when an interior designer l knew was responsible for the carpeting of a five floor house. Measurements were taken and plans drawn up on standard tracing paper and then a photo copy was made and given to the carpet fitters who decided that because such huge quantities were involved they would cut out the basic room pieces in the warehouse, roll them up, label them and deliver them to site to fit. Imagine the horror when it transpired that the photocopy was made with the tracing paper facing the wrong way up and all the rooms had been reversed. (Apparently the labelling had been added to the copy afterwards.) PI insurance came to the rescue.

And then there was the time my grandmother fell over the gas man's bag where he had left it in her sitting room when he went to read the gas meter and she broke her risk. The Gas Board's PL insurance was invaluable.

The smallest mistake can have expensive consequences and whilst none of us ever want to be in the position of having to claim on our insurance policies it is our duty to ourselves and to our clients to have them in place.

IN: Designers who carry PI and PL insurance.
OUT: Designers who don't. Ignorance is no excuse!

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Shattered Hopes

For some years now it has been my desire to see interior design recognised by the public as a profession and as such subject to regulation. It is my belief that interior design, real interior design not cushion shuffling, is worthy of being ranked alongside architecture and chartered surveying. Today students are undertaking 3 - 5 year university courses in the subject and when they practice operate with the appropriate Professional Indemnity and Public Liability insurance and continuous professional development requirements in line with the two professions l have already mentioned. However, this week l have had to face up to the reality that there is no likelihood of this happening during my career and possibly lifetime. This month's Interior Design Today magazine features an article on the two newest bodies set up to represent interior designers: the SBID and IDA which along with the CSD and BIID now makes a total of four!

Many of my colleagues agree with me that these developments only serve to further confuse the public and dilute the industry's standing. Unless and until the SBID, IDA, CSD and BIID (and any other newcomers in the intervening period) get together and formulate a single body to represent all aspects of interior design the likelihood of the industry becoming recognised as a profession will remain improbable.