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Professional indemnity insurance
Thread poster: Anna Hjalmarsson

Anna Hjalmarsson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:13
Member (2015)
English to Swedish
+ ...
Jan 9, 2016

Hello everyone,
Would greatly appreciate any recommendations on professional indemnity insurance for freelance translators in the UK? Many thanks!!


 

Agneta Pallinder  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:13
Member (2014)
Swedish to English
+ ...
One suggestion Jan 9, 2016

I took out PII just under a year ago, have not had occasion to claim, but premium modest at £35.

Web ref here: http://www.m-f-l.co.uk/specialist-divisions/mfl-professional/insurance-for-translators-and-interpreters/

Probably as good as any.

Lycka till!


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:13
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Make sure it actually covers you Jan 9, 2016

I can't help with your choice but I have a word of caution for you. Many policies don't give worldwide cover. The one I used to have only covered my country of residence, whereas my clients were scattered around several continents. I didn't discover that until I'd wasted a lot of moneyicon_frown.gif. The same is true of most policies here in Spain. As the chance of being sued is just about zero, I decided to do without. I don't have enough to make it worthwhile anyway. You can't sue a private individual for millions - well you can, but you won't get the money! It's companies that have insurance that get sued.

 

philgoddard
United States
Member (2009)
German to English
+ ...
A confession Jan 9, 2016

I've been in the business for thirty years, and I don't have professional indemnity insurance. Like Sheila, I think the risks are too small to worry about, the policies aren't international, and I'd be surprised if the insurance companies have ever actually paid any claims.

I have a direct client who I've been working with for about fifteen years. They're in the tourist industry, and my translations are recorded by voiceover artists and heard by tens of thousands of people.

About six months ago, I did a job of a few thousand words for them from Dutch to English. My English was then translated and recorded into eighteen other languages.

Yesterday, almost in passing, they said Oh, by the way, there was a mistake in that job you did for us six months ago. You misunderstood one little word, "zo", and it significantly changed the whole meaning of the sentence. A lot of people who listen to the recordings in all the different languages are going to be confused.

I was mortified, and apologised profusely. They said: Oh, no big deal, we'll be re-recording it at periodic intervals anyway, and then offered me two more jobs.

They would have been perfectly within their rights to charge me for a part of the cost of correcting the error, but they didn't. Mistakes happen, and the sky is not going to fall in if their product is less than perfect.

I'm still not going to bother with professional indemnity insurance, but it did give me pause for thought.





[Edited at 2016-01-09 16:40 GMT]

[Edited at 2016-01-09 16:42 GMT]


 

Adrian MM. (X)
Local time: 19:13
French to English
+ ...
Your professional association Jan 10, 2016

If you are a member of a professional I&T/Interpreters' & Translators' Association - you, Anna, do not appear to be yet (du verkar det icke än) in the UK, then you could do worse than sign up and subscribe, usually at favourable rates, to their recommended PII > professional indemnity insurance. The ITI's ones keep changing names, so it is difficult to keep up (quaere: the TA/ Translators' Association for the literary minded or the CIoL).

Phil G. used to work in reinsurance. So, hopefully, the line of no indemnity insurance he has taken must have been right for him.

Howbeit, I know a number of horror stories of translators being hit with a claim, esp. when a mistranslation or an omission is reproduced in a published calendar or diary at this time of year (UK publishers), a contract for the sale of land in Spain or Italy leaves the seller an option to obtain planning permission when there is none from the wording (procurar obtener permiso), a Danish surgeon serves up to a hospital patient mushy peas (ärtor) instead of ether (eter-narkos) - no names mentioned - or when the wiring diagram of an electrical power generator has been mistranslated and the generator (in Hamburg) actually blew up.

PII premiums in the UK for translators & interpreters plus psychotherapists are relatively low at the mo vs. lawyers, medical doctors/anaesthetists and accountants (in the US, the premiums are astronomical, so some professionals don't even bother.)

Some translation agencies and EU institutions require their translators & interpreters to carry prof. indemnity ins. in case the former exercise a right of recourse for a botch against the latter: recourse being a term that often surfaces on ProZ questions in various guises and lingo-combinations.

So you are right to pursue this line of enquiry!

[Edited at 2016-01-10 17:40 GMT]


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:13
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Do you have any more information? Jan 10, 2016

Adrian MM. wrote:
I know a number of horror stories of translators being hit with a claim, esp. when a mistranslation or an omission is reproduced in a published calendar or diary at this time of year (UK publishers), a contract for the sale of land in Spain or Italy leaves the seller an option to obtain planning permission when there is none from the wording (procurar obtener permiso), a Danish surgeon serves up to a hospital patient mushy peas (ärtor) instead of ether (eter-narkos) - no names mentioned - or when the wiring diagram of an electrical power generator has been mistranslated and the generator (in Hamburg) actually blew up.

That's very interesting as one of our former members here, Henry Hinds, who unfortunately died last autumn, was forever asking if anyone had proof of a successful claim, anywhere, ever. Eventually just one was found, although it wasn't one that any good professional translator would have experienced.


 

Adrian MM. (X)
Local time: 19:13
French to English
+ ...
More info. Jan 10, 2016

Sheila Wilson wrote:

That's very interesting as one of our former members here, Henry Hinds, who unfortunately died last autumn, was forever asking if anyone had proof of a successful claim, anywhere, ever. Eventually just one was found, although it wasn't one that any good professional translator would have experienced.


Thanks, Sheila, for that sad news about Henry H. and congrats on living on Fuerteventura.

To fill in without giving too much away:

1. when a mistranslation or an omission is reproduced in a published calendar or diary at this time of year (UK publishers): the Notary-cum-Solicitor running a translation agency in Central London successfully sued the translator for omission of February 29th in a leap year (like this one). The 20,000 print run of calendars and diaries had to be pulped.

2. a contract for the sale of land in Spain or Italy leaves the seller an option to obtain planning permission when there is none from the wording (procurar obtener permiso): buyers of land in Spain found that their property had turned out worth far less because the sellers had used ‘half-hearted endeavours’ to obtain office development planning permission – which wasn’t enough. The translator, for whom a London-called Barrister (practising in Spain & also qualified in Italy) acted, was sued for the difference in value with and without planning permission.

3. mushy peas (ärtor) instead of ether (eter-narkos) - no names mentioned. The clanger spotted just in time before went out to a UK medical journal. The ‘vegetarian medical treatment’ of course could have had disastrous consequences.

4. when the electrical wiring diagram of a power generator had been mistranslated and the generator (in Hamburg) blows up. An actual case: the translator, 30 years ago, was sued pre-Euro for DM 300,000, mainly for damage to property but also personal injury (fortunately, no fatalities), plus

5. Translator sued by the landlords’ London conveyancing solicitors over the forced roll-over of a commercial lease. Down to a DE/EN mistranslation of a commonly misunderstood German preposition, leaving the wrong notice to quit period > 6 Monate *zum* 01.01.1975 kündigen (denunciar *para* el….) translated as a requirement for either side to give 6 months’ notice on 01.01.1975 to quit, instead of giving at least 6 months’ notice (by 1 July 1974) ‘expiring’ (so effective) on 01.01.1975.

6. The trans. agency-cum-company lost a copy both of the source text plus translation within the 2-year storage period stipulated by the PII co. that refused to settle a negligence claim against the company (sued over a mix-up in a published set of accounts and investors' prospectus, English into Italian, between guarantees given and received). The company couldn’t track down the freelance translator in the event.

1, 3. 5 & 6 happened in the office building where I had been a staff translator in Central London. So they did happen: to fears of even more 'time bombs ticking away in translations thought long dead & buried' - and multiply that exponentially by the volume of freelance translations now circulating worldwide.

NB most PII will cover any negligence claim only at the time it is made and does not necessarily operate retrospectively to cover the time when the translation was produced or 'botched'.

[Edited at 2016-01-10 23:16 GMT]


 

Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 18:13
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Four in one building? Jan 11, 2016

Adrian MM. wrote:
1, 3. 5 & 6 happened in the office building where I had been a staff translator in Central London. So they did happen: to fears of even more 'time bombs ticking away in translations thought long dead & buried' - and multiply that exponentially by the volume of freelance translations now circulating worldwide.

That's incredible. You (where you worked) seem to have had a world monopolyicon_smile.gif.

This blogger (in a blog some time ago) couldn't find anyone in the US: http://translationjournal.blogspot.com.es/2007/01/liability-insurance-for-translators.html
Nor could this commenter from the UK in this discussion in 2010: http://translationmusings.com/2010/11/22/this-is-why-errors-omissions-insurance-is-a-crock/
You find similar discussions all over the web.


 

Adrian MM. (X)
Local time: 19:13
French to English
+ ...
Professional confidentiality Jan 12, 2016

Sheila Wilson wrote:

That's incredible. You (where you worked) seem to have had a world monopolyicon_smile.gif.



Almost: a giant's international near-monopoly, once of business, but not of of botches.

We need to be careful about the wisdom of broadcasting, advertising and posting post-mortems of confidential negligence claims online.

PII companies, translation companies-cum-agencies and UK/Irish lawyers who have been embroiled in litigation over alleged mistranslations (I know a number) have dropped broad hints of pig's ears, but are neither by nature, nor professional practice, chronic name-droppers, nor have a professional urge to shout about their clients and the claims made.

Nor are (irate) EU institutional commissioners of translations (e.g. for the ECJ in Luxembourg) assuredly inclined to claim against freelance translators who have messed up translation briefs. Quote: 'Instead of suing the translator, I just instructed our translation department to pay the bill one-off - and waved goodbye!'.


[Edited at 2016-01-12 15:40 GMT]


 

Anna Hjalmarsson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:13
Member (2015)
English to Swedish
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Assured through your agencies? Jan 13, 2016

Thanks a lot for your comments, everyone! I'll check the threads you recommended, Sheila. Find it hard to believe that someone who mixes up peas with ether has the brains to become a doctor, but the world is full of surprises, I guess.
I posed the same question on a LinkedIn forum and someone there replied that translators sometimes get insured through their agencies. Is that common? Do you discuss it when you first start working together?


 


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