Indemnity insurance - do I need it? Where can I get it?
Thread poster: mtrent1

German to English
Aug 18, 2001

I started to learn German about 2 years ago with intention of improving my job skills. I was placed into a automotive transmission design group that was part of a joint venture between a German and American automotive company. After 2 years of learning the language and about a year of translating technical documents, I have begun to think about doing technical translations for pay. Being an extreme novice, I wondered whether it was common for most beginning translators to have some insurance. If so, where would I get more information about this product?

Matt Trent


Ralf Lemster  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:27
English to German
+ ...
Sep 11, 2001

Hi Matt!

Don\'t know about the situation in the US, but there are some insurance companies providing cover for damages resulting from incorrect or negligent translation. This is called \"Vermögensschaden-Haftpflicht\", and costs approx. DEM 1,000 p.a. (with a maximum cover of DEM 150,000). Try a search for this term. Alternatively, have a look at AXA - I have a policy with their German subsidiary, AXA-Colonia .

HTH - Best regards, Ralf


Evert DELOOF-SYS  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:27
English to Dutch
+ ...
Sep 11, 2001


Here\'s an excerpt from

on this interesting subject:

Professional Indemnity Insurance Explained

Professional Indemnity Insurance provides essential financial protection for a wide range of professional advisers. In the event that a client suffers financial loss as a result of alleged neglect, error or omission Professional Indemnity Insurance will meet the cost of defending claims and any damages payable.

Any person who gives advice, designs, or offers similar services in a professional capacity is seen by clients as an expert. In these times of high consumer awareness, clients will not hesitate to pursue a claim if they feel that they have received sub-standard service. The need for Professional Indemnity Insurance has never been greater.

While some professional people see Professional Indemnity Insurance as an expensive and unnecessary overhead, we know from experience that any professional can produce substantial claims. Court awards have risen sharply in receipt years. Without insurance, the financial security of a business is threatened. The following examples highlight the importance of Professional Indemnity Insurance:

A business wished to be known by a particular trade name. After consulting with company registration agents, it was told that there was no objection to its chosen name. Proceedings were issued by a company with a similar name and £20,000 was paid in connection by the agents.

Detailers prepared structural drawings for the erection of steelwork. It was subsequently alleged that the drawings contained errors and £110,000 was claimed for the costs of alteration and the resulting delays in construction..

An auctioneer sold property at auction over a number of years. It was alleged that the property was stolen and a claim for £250,000 was brought for conversion..

It was alleged that consulting engineers were negligent in their design of waste heating boilers. A claim for £4m was brought for the cost of extra work and the resulting delays..

An estate agent missed the opportunity to carry out a rent review because of a defective rent review notice. The claim was settled for £50,000. .



Only the professional can assess the amount of cover appropriate to the business. In determining how much cover to effect, it is important that a realistic view is taken of the potential damages and legal costs for which the business could become liable. Being under-insured can be almost as financially disastrous as being without insurance at all - as the examples below reveal.

We recommend that no insurance policy is taken out with a limit of less than £250,000. We will, however, provide a quotation for lower levels of indemnity if asked to do so. We are also able to provide cover up to a limit of £10,000,000 in most cases. Any professionals in doubt about the amount of cover they should take out should consult their legal advisers.

The following examples highlight the dangers of being under-insured.

Case 1 - It was alleged that surveyors were negligent in their valuation of a property on behalf of a lender.

Loss: £1.5m

Insurance: £1m

Case 2 - A consulting engineer designed a roof which proved to be defective..

Loss: £350,000

Insurance: £100,000

Case 3 - A design consultant provided designs for tools to be used in manufacturing process. It was alleged that the designers were inaccurate..

Loss: £150,000

Insurance: £100,000

Or just consider entering your query at or or for literally thousands of hits, including companies offering this insurance.

For more info and reactions on the same subject matter, refer to \'Business Issues\'.

Have a nice day,

Evert Deloof-Sys

[ This Message was edited by: on 2001-09-11 06:11 ]


Chris Cheal
Local time: 00:27
Slovak to English
+ ...
Has anyone on the site been sued? Oct 13, 2001

The examples posted dont relate to translation. Is it a real threat or not?


Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:27
French to English
Good professional indemnity insurance is a good idea Oct 13, 2001

After having worked as a litigation assistant for a firm of solicitors specialising in professional indemnity work, I cannot but be pro PI insurance.

Each translator has to decide whether it is appropriate for him/her and if so, what risks need to be covered.

Some factors to bear in mind :

1-Nature of the work you do.

If you do legal, medical, technical work, then the burden of responsibility on the translator is pretty high. One small mistake and the consequences are potentially far-reaching.

Example. (French to English).

In the building of racing yachts, certain materials are preferred (carbon, for example) because of the \"gain de poids\" they represent. What it means is a saving in weight, but I have seen this translated to mean increase in weight quite a few times. Quite the opposite meaning of course. Imagine the consequences of this sort of mistake in certain circumstances! A \"small\" mistake, but an important one.

2-Extent to which your client is relying upon your work.

Whatever the nature of the work you do, if your client is going to make important decisions on the basis of your translation, then things might turn nasty very quickly indeed if a decision based on an erroneous translation makes him lose tons of money.

3-Monetary value of the work you do.

If your client is going to sign a mega-million deal based on your translation, then you need to have good insurance.

Arguments for taking out good insruance are always easy to find, much easier than good cover and at a good price.

Professional associations are often a good place to start. They include an arbitration service also, which is a good way of avoiding finding yourself being dragged through the courts - and more often than not less costly all round. Specific cover at good rates. However, they apparently impose a large number of conditions and many exclusions. Work done for clients in certain countries will not be covered. Certain types of work are apparently not covered if you don\'t have specific qualifications etc.

Take time to find appropriate cover. Insurance is fine when you don\'t need to use it, as long as it\'s not too expensive. When you need it, you may regret not having taken the time to find what you really needed and having paid that litle bit more to have sufficient cover.

One of the best things you can do to protect yourself though is to take on work you are able to do. Using your clients as guinea pigs is not on. You could come unstuck and find yourself in serious difficulty. Refuse work you are not sure about.


XX789 (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:27
English to Dutch
+ ...
Only one case until now AFAIK Nov 22, 2001

As far as I know, there is only one indemnity precedence in US law which relates to the translation business. The client lost the case, as the value of the translation itself could by no means be compared with the loss of the client.

I can vaguely remember this case had to do something with an Arabic translator who had to do a minimum rate rush job for a client. In all the rush, he made an unforgivable mistake, but it was already too late when it became clear the client had decided to print this translation on 50.000 T-shirts.

The risk differs per country and per market. The USA has a real claim culture, but in Holland for example, it\'s not only the translator, but also the client who bears a great deal of the responsibility. If you do a 50 USD job in Holland, there\'s no way a judge will ever say that you need to indemnify your client for 50.000 USD. I have spoken to several lawyers about this and this is what they said: it\'s the translator\'s obligation to do the utmost to come up with a good translation, but if the client is planning to base important decisions on this translation or invest in this translation by having it printed or whatsoever, the client is expected to ask for a second opinion or have his product checked on the local market before taking it into mass-production. If a client does not do this, this can be regarded as neglect on the client\'s side.

Nevertheless, you never know. In a worst case scenario a client in Holland might be able to get an indemnification of about 40.000 USD or so if you have done a large-scale job. However, there are hardly any precedents and it\'s difficult to proove neglect on the translator\'s side (as translation is not an exact science).

An indemnification insurance in Holland will cost you about 200 USD per year. If you also want to cover the USA, you\'re in for a surprise though: 2.500 USD per year is very normal.

Also make sure that

1. Your Terms & Conditions contain a good indemnification clause (consult your lawyer - in Holland you can get 30 minutes of free advice per year from a lawyer at the Chamber of Commerce)

2. You have your Terms & Conditions registered at the Chamber of Commerce (at least, that\'s how it works in Holland)

3. You send your client a copy of these Terms & Conditions if you get a large-scale project (once again, this might only apply to Holland)

[ This Message was edited by: on 2001-11-22 13:54 ]


Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 00:27
French to English
Cost of cover if you have clients in the US Nov 23, 2001

I know that in France, many policies specifically exclude clients in the US. Rightly or wrongly there is an impression in the eye of an insurer that if it goes wrong, the US client will not hesitate to take you to court - and the no win no fee, contingency fee culture means the insurance company could find themselves washed out. It is commonplace in the UK and in France for cover for US clients to cost you an absolute packet!


Greta Holmer  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 23:27
Dutch to English
+ ...
anyone know a reliable insurance company in Belgium or UK. Dec 3, 2001

I have tried asking a number of insurance brokers here in Belgium and in England (we have a UK registered company with a Belgian branch) but they either say it will cost an absolute packet or refuse to enter into it at all as the risks of translation are not secure enough.

Does anyone know a good insurance company other than AXA - AXA Belgium has been having serious business problems and has been refusing policies as they have lost a lot of money recently...


Werner George Patels, M.A., C.Tran.(ATIO) (X)
Local time: 19:27
German to English
+ ...
Join a professional association Dec 3, 2001

Several major translators\' associations offer liability insurance at drastically reduced premiums

(My annual premium is only about C$100, and I am covered for up to C$2,000,000).

You will not find such premiums on your own (another reason to join an association and accept their professional and ethical standards and codes of conduct).


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