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Poll: Do you have professional indemnity insurance?
Thread poster: Staff Staff
Local time: 11:19
Sep 24, 2012

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Do you have professional indemnity insurance?".

This poll was originally submitted by Julian Holmes. View the poll results »


Nikki Scott-Despaigne  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:19
French to English
Comment Sep 24, 2012

In the UK and in France, if you are held liable for loss or damage and you do not have professional indemnity insurance, it is worth bearing in mind that your personal assets are at risk.

Take this as read from someone who worked in professional indemnity litigation representing solicitors, architects, accountants, chartered surveyors and other liberal professionals.

In the UK, for translators, the premiums are not prohibitive. In France, an assurance multirisque professionnelle is not that expensive either. The idea is that you don't need it. The days someone pins responsibility for something on your work, then the legal fees alone can put you seriously out of pocket. When I say "personal assets" are at risk, I mean, your bank accounts, your possessions (house, car). It is rare that a translator is held liable but to think it cannot happen is not a risk I wish to run.

[Edited at 2012-09-24 08:22 GMT]

Some sources about it being rare for a translator to be held liable. Rare does not mean impossible; rare does mean low insurance premiums. Take note!

[Edited at 2012-09-24 08:28 GMT]

[Edited at 2012-09-24 08:30 GMT]


Mary Worby  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:19
German to English
+ ...
Yes Sep 24, 2012

I have PII organised through the ITI for about £50 a year (off the top of my head). I doubt I will ever have to use it but it's worth it for the peace of mind!


neilmac  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:19
Spanish to English
+ ...
No Sep 24, 2012

If I did, I'd have to put my rates up. As it is, I work from a broomcupboard on a shoestring.


Diarmuid Kennan
Local time: 19:19
Member (2006)
Danish to English
+ ...
mmm... Sep 24, 2012

This is a recurring topic and something that i vaguely worry about from time to time.

However, I have never yet heard of a single case of a translator being held liable for e.g. an error in a medical translation having fatal consequences (which I guess is a possible worst case scenario) or a critical structural fault in a building etc. caused by sloppy translation work (although mis-translation has been blamed for being a major part of the reasons for the recent war between Georgia and Russia!).

Also, I seem to remember reading somewhere that under EU law, a translator can only be held liable for the value of the translation project that they perform, and since most translators rarely perform translations of greater value than, say €10,000, they are unlikely to lose their home, for example.

I would be interested to hear if anyone else has heard of such a clause in EU law.


DianeGM  Identity Verified
Local time: 21:19
Member (2006)
Dutch to English
+ ...
Yes Sep 24, 2012

Yes I do. I have never needed except occasionally to assure clients that I have it.
But since I am the last monkey in line, I prefer to have it. The buck stops with me and I am sure everyone above me in line has more resources [i.e. more expensive = persausive lawyers].


Simon Bruni  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 19:19
Member (2009)
Spanish to English
No Sep 24, 2012

I have virtually no personal assets so it's probably not worth it, especially since I don't translate heavy legal stuff or machine operation manuals. In a previous poll a colleague with expertise in insurance explained that most of these policies are useless to many translators anyway because they only protect you against claims from companies in the country you live in. I for one work mainly for foreign companies.


Michael Harris  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:19
Member (2006)
German to English
Nope Sep 24, 2012

but I would like to. I have never needed something like this before, but I always prefer to be on the safe side.

As fas as I know, you cannot have it in the translation industry here in Germany.


Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:19
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
Just how liable are you? Sep 24, 2012

Thank you for your valuable input and comments so far and @Nikki for the very useful links.

I suggested this topic because I was recently approached by a major software company to do J>E translation, and one of their requirements -- albeit preferred and not mandatory -- is that I have professional indemnity insurance, which is also known as Errors & Omissions insurance. In my close on 30 years of translating here in Japan, this is the first time I've even been asked about this.

This topic does beg the question of just how liable we are as translators for the work we deliver and something to think about when signing contracts that have embedded liability clauses. My view, however, is that "I work for the customer, not for their clients," something that I have pointed out to my customers in the past.
Once my work leaves their hands, it's their product and no longer mine. As far as I am concerned, the liability and the buck stops there since they have by implication judged it to be of sound quality and ready for delivery. If it is not, they can ask me to review sections of my work before they hand it off to the end client. Claiming "it was not what the client wanted/expected" after delivery is just not acceptable with me. icon_eek.gif

The contract is exclusively between me and my customer. However, we all know that what we take for granted as laymen and what the law says sometimes are too completely different things.

What do you think? And, how liable are you for the work you deliver once it is out of your hands?


Gilla Evans  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:19
Spanish to English
+ ...
I feel happier for having it Sep 24, 2012

I have been translating for over 30 years and I have always had professional indemnity insurance. I have never had to use it, but I still continue to subscribe to it because some of my clients demand it of me, and its cost is now relatively low (it used to cost me £250 a year but now is nearer £50).

I would hope never to make a mistake that gave rise to problems and as I work in the creative fields I might have a client who didn't like my version, but it would be unlikely for me to produce a translation that was 'wrong' and misleading in a way that would incur liability. But I know that when I ran an agency we sometimes had to deal with clients who felt a translation was wrong and wanted us to pay for the reprinting of brochures, etc. On those occasions we fought the corner of our translators as they were not at fault, and we had revised and approved the translations, but it is not beyond the realms of possibility that something incorrect might slip through the net.

[Edited at 2012-09-24 13:20 GMT]


Gianluca Marras  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:19
Member (2008)
English to Italian
I wanted to Sep 24, 2012

I asked in Italy, but the cost is extremely high, not less than € 1100 per year, and withs so many clauses that at the end of the day you're still at risk!


Lesley Clarke  Identity Verified
Local time: 13:19
Spanish to English
IMHO Sep 24, 2012

I live in an earthquake zone and am getting old in a place where there is no social support whatsoever, if I were to buy insurance to cover every tiny risk in my life, I'd have no money left to put food on the table.

It is impossible a totally risk-free world, no matter how much we would like to, but the risk here seems to be altogether too small to be worth taking out insurance against it. I think the best thing to do is to continue delivering high-quality translations and not sign contracts with liability clauses.


Filipa Plant dos Santos  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:19
Member (2011)
Portuguese to English
Not available! Sep 24, 2012

I also worry about this.

Here in Portugal, it does not seem to be available for translators who work with countries outside Portugal (if anyone knows different, please let me know!).

I recently started working with two large agencies, one in the UK and the other in the US. I explained the situation and told them that as insurance was unavailable to me, I could only work with them if they accepted that my liability was limited to the payment for the work - the amount that I would be invoicing them.

In both cases they checked with their legal departments, and got back to me to say that this was in fact the case, that I was only liable to them for the amount of my invoice - i.e. If I turn in a lousy job, I could end up not getting paid. This is fine by me - if I do a lousy job - I'd EXPECT not to get paid! so that's ok.

This is working with agencies though - of course if I worked directly with the end client, it would be a different matter. I think in that case I'd have to get them to sign some sort of contract limiting my liability, I suppose.

Another lovely topic for when we wake up in the middle of the night with High Anxiety!!


Mario Chavez (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 14:19
English to Spanish
+ ...
Mmm, no Sep 24, 2012

I don't have professional indemnity insurance. I had it once (called errors & omissions insurance in America) but I never had a need for it.

The cost is about US $400-600/year, which is a nice piece of chunk if you ask me. You can purchase a brand new laptop with that money.

Julian, it's a good question. I would like to know what you decided to do or how you are approaching the topic with your prospective client. If it were a government agency that requires that as part of a government contract and not a bid, then I would seriously consider getting that insurance.

Otherwise, I would ask the client what are his concerns that prompted the insurance requirement in the first place. Digging deeper may result in important information that aids in your decision.

I think our colleague who said that the liability is limited to the cost of the translation project is correct. I believe US law has the same interpretation.


Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:19
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
Newbies welcomes - Feel free to comment! Sep 24, 2012

It's getting late over here and it's time to hit the sack.

Thank you all for your comments so far. Please remember that your input and experience about this topic is for the benefit of all of your fellow translators on this site. So, please fire away at will!

If you think this insurance is necessary, please tell us why.
If you think this insurance isn't necessary, please tell us why.
If you think your liability ends with the customer, please tell us why.
If you think your liability doesn't end with the customer, please tell us why.

I see some unfamiliar faces here. I hope to see you all again soon. The more the merrier. icon_smile.gif

Boing! "Time for bed and forget translation (at least for tonight)," said Zebedee.

Good night and oyasumi-nasai!

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