The Professional Indemnity insurance, also known as Professional Liability or “PI” here in Europe and “Errors & Omissions” at the other side of the ocean is an insurance who protect individuals (engineers, geologist, topographer…) and companies in case they made gross mistakes, negligence and similar errors causing losses to the counterpart who purchased their service.
In the majority of the projects I’ve worked at I have had the pleasure to know very good professional working for external subcontractors - people who helped us develop wind farms in faraway countries providing a variety of services.
Even if many work for “big names” in the business and I know many of them personally, it’s always a good idea to have a PI insurance in place when you purchase a professional service (in my case, something related to civil or electrical engineering).
The amount of the insurance should be related to the potential damage – in my case, the bigger the wind farm, the bigger the insurance that will let me feel comfortable.
However, this type of insurance is not cheap – the more onerous the request, the more expensive the service will become because the consultant will (obviously) ask you to pay for the policy extension.
As far as I know, PI is not mandatory (at least, not for all professions and not in all countries). However the vast majority of companies and individuals I’ve worked with had it in place.
It’s also worth mentioning that such insurance will also need to stay in place quite a lot of time – some design errors are not self-evident and are usually discovered after a few years.
Lastly, I want to highlight that every now and then I see a new technical solution in the market (for instance, I’m currently studying at least 3 alternative foundation types).
As this are new, unproved technologies the need for a strong Professional Insurance insurance in place becomes even greater.