Programming Error Causes 23,000 Euros Damage - a Real Damage Event
What happens when you take out Professional Indemnity Insurance and make a claim shortly afterwards? This question can be well answered by looking at a real exali case, in which a self-employed programmer made a costly mistake with custom software, resulting in a claim for 23,000 Euros. When he reported the damage to exali, he had only had his Professional Indemnity policy for ten weeks. We have summarised in this article how the insurer reacted and how the case turned out.
Trouble Caused by Faulty Software
A programmer was commissioned to create bespoke software for a significant German sports association. The federation wanted to use the software to create personalised membership cards for each member club - including the relevant permissions and the club's logo. The self-employed IT expert first programmed the software and then took out Professional Indemnity cover through exali. This small detail will become important in a moment.
The badge production seemed to run smoothly for the first three months (December to February). Still, then there was a flood of complaints: Some 30,000 membership cards had the wrong entitlements, which meant that the holders could not access the sports facilities, and were naturally angry with their club, which in turn complained to the sports federation. As it transpired, the error was due to an incorrect date field in the identification routine developed by the programmer.
Sports Association Seeks 23,000 Euros in Damages
Ultimately, the faulty badges had to be re-produced and sent individually to each club. The costs quickly added up to around 23,000 euros - an amount that the sports association then demanded back from the programmer. After assessing the situation, the IT expert immediately reported the claim to exali's customer service department, which passed it on to the insurer. After programming the software and starting the roll-out of the ID cards to clubs, the programmer had taken out Professional Indemnity cover in December.
The insurer reviewed the case and paid the claim to the sports association - even though the policy had only been in force for ten weeks. This was possible because exali's Professional Indemnity includes a so-called pre-sales cover in the insurance conditions.
In practice, a small programming error can cause expensive waves more often than you might think. This is illustrated by this damage event, in which an IT service provider ruined a marketing campaign due to a typing error and had to pay a whopping 750,000 euros in damages: IT freelancer ruins advertising.
When Does Professional Indemnity from exali Provide Coverage?
In this case, there were only ten weeks between the inception of the policy and the damage event. In addition, the software itself was created prior to the policy commencing, which means that the programmer had already performed most of his services prior to the purchase of the policy. This raises two fundamental questions:
1.Is the damage covered because it occurred during the policy period?
2.Is the damage not covered because the programming of the label routing that caused
the damage had already been done before the policy commenced?
The answer depends on whether or not the Professional Indemnity Insurance includes pre-sale cover. This refers to the co-insurance in the policy of activities or projects that were started or even completed before the policy was taken out.
The Claims Made Principle
Professional Indemnity Insurance through exali defines the insured damage event according to the "claims-made" principle, i.e. it is not the time at which the damage occurs that is decisive, but the time at which the claim is made, i.e. when the claimant makes a claim for damages or issues a written warning. If the claim is made within the policy period - as in the case of the IT expert in the example above - then the claim is covered.
You can find out more about the claims-made principle in the following article: Professional Indemnity Insurance: When is the Best Time to Think About Coverage?
Protection without Clauses and Loopholes
Our clear recommendation is to take out Professional Indemnity Insurance when you start a business or become self-employed. This will eliminate any gaps in cover from the outset. However, we know from many years of insurance experience that Professional Indemnity is often not considered until later in practice. In these cases, pre-sales cover using the claims-made principle - as is the point with Professional Indemnity through exali - is crucial. This means that even older projects are covered, provided the damage has not yet occurred. And that can make all the difference in the event of a claim.
If you have any questions about Professional Indemnity Insurance, please do not hesitate to contact our customer service. You can reach our insurance experts Monday to Friday from 9 am to 6 pm (CET) on +49 (0) 821 / 80 99 46 - 0 or via the contact form.
Daniela has been working in the areas of (online) editing, social media and online marketing since 2008. At exali, she is particularly concerned with the following topics: Risks through digital platforms and social media, cyber dangers for freelancers and IT risk coverage.
In addition to her work as an online editor at exali, she works as a freelance editor and therefore knows the challenges of self-employment from her own experience.