Overview: From 2015 Member’s Motion to 2017 Bylaws
Members approved a member’s motion at the May 2, 2015 AIBC Annual Meeting “that council be requested to consider mandatory PLI for all members and registrants in practice.” Council formally confirmed its support for the motion in July 2015 and requested that a presentation be delivered at the May 2016 Annual Meeting. The presentation confirmed the institute would pursue Professional Liability Insurance (PLI) on the basis that it would be “mandatory” and tied to Certificates of Practice (CoP).
On May 10, 2016, council requested that the Bylaw Review Committee (BRC) add mandatory Professional Liability Insurance for Certificate of Practice holders to the BRC’s 2015-2018 Work Plan, and on August 9, 2016, council approved the BRC recommendation to create a PLI task-force, reporting to the BRC.
This PLI Working Group (PLIWG) was formed in August 2016 consisting of three architects and staff support, and it began meeting in September 2016. During the fall of 2016, the PLIWG examined current PLI standards for architects and other self-regulated professionals across Canada and liaised with insurance brokers to better understand the existing marketplace, which has changed substantially in the last two decades. In December 2016, the PLIWG presented recommendations to the BRC regarding the scope of mandatory PLI that would be required for architectural firms in B.C.
Previous attempts to pass bylaws requiring PLI coverage were unsuccessful (by narrow margins), likely because the marketplace was different in those periods; public, professional and government awareness had not been raised through the “leaky condo” crisis; and insurance requirements imposed by authorities having jurisdiction were not yet the norm. The ready availability of cost-effective coverage for small and medium-sized firms was also at times in question.
Unlike the past, when many architectural regulators did not require liability insurance, currently the AIBC is an outlier, along with one other jurisdiction due to introduce a system next year.
Upon review of the BRC memo entitled: New Bylaw Proposal – Mandatory Professional Liability Insurance, council endorsed, in principle, the proposed bylaws regarding the introduction of professional liability insurance in addition to the supporting council rules and rulings.
As with all bylaw initiatives, council sought member input through an extensive spring consultation period. For 2.5 months, in-person and online sessions were scheduled in Vancouver, Victoria and Kelowna, a questionnaire was distributed, and a PLI hotline was offered for those with specific, insurance-related questions.
Owing to the feedback received, which was either generally positive or consisting of questions related to insurance issues, several items were specifically identified and addressed. The bylaw language was streamlined and a means, through council rules, was added to handle (currently unforeseen) future scenarios where council may want to exempt or modify insurance requirements.
The thrust of the bylaws is the introduction of mandatory PLI for certificate of practice holders (i.e., architectural firms). Council rules would establish minimum amounts of coverage as well as the mechanism by which evidence of insurance is provided.
The voting period for the council-endorsed bylaws opened on June 13, and ended on July 13 at 4 p.m. (PDT). As with all bylaws, eligible members were encouraged to cast their ballot.
More than 80.5 per cent of voters were in support of the bylaws, which are set to come into effect for the 2019 annual renewal cycle.
Next steps include passing the government’s 45-day disallowance period, and approval of council rules and rulings. Members and other AIBC registrants will be notified of the outcome of the disallowance period as well as details regarding the notification period.
What is professional liability insurance?
Who in the membership will this impact?
What are the benefits of professional liability insurance?
How much coverage is council recommending?
How expensive is PLI?
Do other provincial architectural regulators require PLI?
If members support this initiative, when would PLI come into effect?
PLI Considerations & Scenarios
What is the difference between “mandatory” and “compulsory” insurance?
What is the scope of coverage?
What about supplemental coverage or coverage extensions?
Will it be difficult to get insured?
What if I don’t want to get insurance?
What if the professional liability insurers withdraw from the B.C. market?
What if the professional liability insurance marketplace shrinks to a single insurer?
What if professional liability insurance premium costs skyrocket?
Would contract consultants be covered under my policy?
Could I extend coverage after I close my firm?
Would payment options be available or would I have to pay all at once?
Could I shop around?
What would happen if an architect or firm forgot or failed to remember to renew their insurance during the term of their certificate of practice?
I’m an Architect AIBC who practises in a provincial/territorial jurisdiction that has required PLI for years. Will my insurance policy transfer to B.C.?
Does the AIBC have the authority to introduce bylaws regarding PLI?
How soon would these bylaws go to vote?
I already have PLI. Why should I vote?
Memo to Council
President’s Message d. March 1, 2017
President’s Message d. May 31, 2017
List of Professional Liability Insurance Providers in B.C.
For more information, please contact:
Maura Gatensby Architect AIBC
t: 604.683.8588, ext. 333
Thomas Lutes, Barrister and Solicitor
Director of Professional Conduct & Illegal Practice
t: 604.683.8588, ext. 321
Director of Communications
t: 604.683.8588, ext. 308