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Learn How to Start Your Own Firm with the AIA Trust

Purchasing insurance, managing risk, dealing with liability, and navigating practice

For over 60 years, the AIA Trust has provided insurance benefits to AIA members. But many members may not be aware of the Trust’s role as a risk management resource for AIA members and their firms. A major focus of these resources is on those members starting and running a firm, particularly AIA member small firms. “Starting—and Running—Your Own Firm is a section of AIA Trust resources designed to help members gain from the experience of others in successfully managing their architectural practices.

Understanding risks

Making the Transition to Running Your Own Firm” offers a key foundation for those starting out or unsure of how to manage the inherent risks of running an architectural practice and the insurance coverage issues involved. The booklet, developed by Victor O. Schinnerer & Company, Inc. and the CNA Insurance companies in conjunction with the AIA Trust, assists licensed design professionals in operating a professional practice by offering solutions on how to transfer risks appropriately. And now there’s a three-learning-credit self-assessment test on the Trust site that you can take as well.

New and smaller firms

New Starter Firm Incentives for AIA Members” is a brief on-demand webinar offering special benefits to AIA members that are starting brand-new firms, along with a detailed instruction page so that AIA members with eligible new firms may apply for various freebies. These can include publications and free insurance coverage. A small firm claims study offers tips to help small firms to avoid most claims which result from delays, extras, or property damage. A summary about professional employer organizations helps firms understand how to outsource cost-effectively to lower expenses and increase profits. There is also a summary overview of AIA Trust programs aimed at small firms that can increase firms’ negotiating leverage. In addition, scroll down to the Tools section listing myriad ready-to-use firm management tools, including checklists, evaluation forms, sample firm policies, etc.

National healthcare reform

Information on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act summarizes the timing and implications of various provisions, so that members can better understand how reforms may affect their firms. As information becomes available, the AIA Trust will update and add resources. The Trust is continuing to explore healthcare programs that would provide value to members nationwide.

Buying professional liability insurance

Particularly useful to those new to running a firm is the page of in-depth articles and tips about professional liability and general commercial liability insurance: what it is, how to work with brokers and insurers, and how to select appropriate coverage. In addition, the AIA Trust Professional Liability Insurer Database offers details on more than 20 of the largest professional liability insurers so members can compare coverage and search for specific criteria to address firm needs. A general guide about handling a claim—from anticipating, reporting, and managing a claim to pre-claim assistance, defense, dispute resolution, and even litigation—provides helpful assistance to members running a firm. The annual Professional Liability Insurance Survey of Carriers also identifies trends and offerings in the professional liability insurance industry that can benefit members in their practice.

Current issues

To acquaint new-firm owners with emerging issues that can affect their practice, articles in the quarterly risk management newsletter address new and developing challenges, such as BIM lifecycle data, IPD project insurance, design-bid-build projects, joint venture liability, and many others. In addition, thorough examinations of cutting-edge liability issues are published regularly on topics ranging from ethics and electronic data to sustainability and the changing standard of care. In addition, an exploration of risk management sustainability issues examines the many challenges in this evolving area of design.

Recent Related:

From ARCHITECT Live: Professional Ethics and Risk Management Video

When Addressing Liability and Ethics, Upfront Is the Only Option

Insure Your Firm’s Future: The AIA Trust Professional Liability Database

Visit the AIA Trust website

Back to AIArchitect January 10, 2014

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