Written byShaun McGowan
As a Graphic Designer you are an essential member of your clients’ marketing team. You are responsible for the visual aspects of all their communication campaigns, and for ensuring their brand is accurately represented in all their digital and printed promotional materials.
You may be involved in the concept development and creation of core marketing assets such as their brand style guide, website and corporate brochures, or in offering expert advice on branding, communication or marketing strategy. You may also be responsible for coordinating other contractors such as photographers and printers.
As a professional your clients have the right to rely on your advice, and to expect you to meet deadlines and complete projects to a high standard. If you make an error or fail to deliver work as expected, and the client loses money or business as a result, they can take legal action against you to recover their losses. They could claim that:
Even if you are working in collaboration with your client and following their instructions or guidelines, you could still be at risk of a negligence claim.
If you are offering your services as a Graphic Designer, especially if you are running a design studio or employing other people, it’s extremely important that you have professional indemnity insurance (PII). Here are some the reasons:
You may already have public liability insurance in place to protect you if someone has an accident in your studio, or for any physical damage you may cause to another person or their property. However, this won’t cover you if one of your clients suffers a financial loss as a result of a mistake you or your employees make, or advice you give them.
A professional indemnity policy covers your legal costs if you need to defend your business against a negligence or copyright infringement claim – whether or not that claim is found to be true. PII also covers the damages that are awarded against you if a negligence claim is upheld, up to the limit in your policy.
The cost of your professional indemnity insurance is your annual premium. The amount you pay will depend on a number of factors, including:
You may also choose to add features like retroactive protection or runoff cover to your policy, for an additional cost.
A freelance Graphic Designer was engaged by an SME to completely overhaul their brand, including the design of a new logo and the creation of a style guide setting out colours, fonts and usage guidelines. Once the new brand was finalised the client commissioned a new website and a suite of printed marketing collateral, including brochures, letterhead and business cards.
Six months later a rival company filed an intellectual property infringement suit against the client, claiming that the new brand was too similar to their own and was a breach of their copyright. The infringement was upheld and the client had to take down their website and stop using their printed materials.
The client filed a negligence claim against the Graphic Designer for the cost of developing a new brand, redesigning the website and reprinting all their marketing materials. They also claimed for lost business during the period when the website was offline, and for the fines they had to pay to the rival company for breach of copyright.
Damages of $637,000 were awarded against the Graphic Designer. His professional indemnity insurance covered these plus his legal costs of almost $40,000. The excess he paid on the claim was just $[xxx].
If you offer any of the following services as a Graphic Designer then it is extremely important that you have the protection of professional indemnity insurance, or your personal and business assets could be at risk:
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