January 2015 - Oswald Companies

Happy New Year and Welcome to 2015!
We wanted to take this opportunity to thank you for your
continued business; many of which have been clients for
over 20 years! We truly appreciate your confidence and
trust in the value we provide. In many companies services
that don’t generate revenue often are discontinued, but
we’ve been able to continue offering services such as contract review and educational services because we believe
that’s what distinguishes us from our competitors.
In coming issues of The Oswaldian, we will now include
other services to consider as our goal when we sold STA
was to holistically manage your firm’s total risk management. Much like your clients want “one stop shopping,”
we’ve built a company that can now help you in any area.
When something dramatic happens to your firm, we want
to be sure we’ve contemplated your risk alternatives.
Please reach out to us with any concerns you have for
your business.
We wish you success in the coming year and look forward
to servicing your needs again.
Oswald Companies
1100 Superior Ave., Suite 1500
Cleveland, OH 44114
Toll Free: 800.975.9468
Fax: 216.241.4520
Code / Design Standards Compliance
by Robert Gavin
Misunderstanding, among clients and even design professionals, often surrounds the
design professional’s obligation to provide Instruments of Service in strict compliance
with codes and/or client design standards. One of the most overlooked yet dangerous contractual pitfalls for design professionals is a provision in an agreement to
“comply with all laws, client design standards etc." Agreeing to such contract clause
can elevate a design professional’s standard of care above the norm and exposes the
design professional to uninsurable and indefensible risks.
It is, of course, every design professional’s goal to provide designs that do comply
with all codes/standards. Absence a contractual clause to the contrary the only requirement the law imposes upon a design professional is to meet their standard of
care. If a lack of compliance is the result of the failure of the design professional to
meet the applicable standard of care, then they should be held responsible and their
professional liability insurance policies (PLI) would respond to the claimed damages,
subject to other policy terms, conditions and exclusions.
When presented with a contract clause requiring such compliance, design professionals should explain to their clients that there are various reasons not agree to do so.
First, there are so many laws, rules and regulations affecting the building industry that
it simply is not possible for anyone to know them all. Governing agencies enact numerous codes and standards involving many areas such as zoning, building, handicap
accessibility, historic preservation, health, environmental, sustainable design, and
safety, just to name a few. Second, laws are constantly evolving, sometimes even
during the course of a project which make it impossible to comply with a moving target. Third, laws are subject to interpretation. One code official may have a different
opinion than another official, and code officials and/or their interpretations may change
during the course of a project.
Lastly, and most importantly, it may be impossible to comply with all laws because
those that apply can actually conflict. To illustrate this point, suppose a code requires
a wall within so many feet of a property line to be fire-rated, but the building itself, contains volatile materials such that the walls, per code, must include explosion relief panels. The applicable building code may prohibit explosion relief panels in fire-rated
walls, and therefore the laws conflict.
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In such a case, if the design professional was held to a contractual provision of compliance with all laws, they would have breached their agreement which leads to an insurance coverage issue because breach of contract is not insurable. Normally, the
design professional would meet with the code officials and arrive at design that balances the safety issues, and that would be the resolution of the conflict.
We believe the way to address this is to explain the issues to the client emphasizing
that you are not trying to avoid responsibility but trying to protect the client from uninsurable claims. Impress upon your client that you strongly agree that all services
should be and will be provided consistent with your standard of care and in doing so
you will take reasonable steps to comply with codes/design standards. Wording similar to the following might be suggested:
Design Professional shall as required by its professional standard of care take reasonable steps in effort to comply with applicable building codes, regulations and laws in
effect as of the date of the execution of this Agreement.
Oswald A&E
Employee Spotlight
Bob is one of our two Risk Managers here at
Oswald and has over 30 years of experience
in the area of professional liability, loss prevention and claims. He is responsible for contract
review services and developing and delivery
risk management and loss prevention seminars to clients and prospective clients.
Robert Gavin,
Risk Manager
Introducing Oswald Group Personal Excess
A million dollars isn’t what it used to be. Personal liability insurance is often not enough for architects, engineers, and other affluent individuals. Excess liability insurance, also known as an Umbrella policy, offers higher limits you may need to cover damages for which you or a member of
your household may be legally responsible.
Claims Continue to Rise
$49 million was awarded in California to the family of a 21 year-old college student whose injuries in an auto accident will require 24 hour care for the rest of his life.
$11.3 million was the settlement in Florida to a woman who accused the defendant of posting defamatory statements on an internet bulletin board.
$2.3 million was won in Pennsylvania to the family of an 11 year-old boy who was kicked in the
face by a privately owned horse.
Often purchasing higher limits for a personal Excess Liability policy becomes difficult, expensive,
or both. The price is predetermined by the loss history of your home, drivers, vehicles and watercrafts. By offering a Group Personal Excess policy, members avoid underwriting scrutiny and
save on costs.
That is why Oswald Companies is proud to offer Group Personal Excess coverage for our clients
Higher limits of Liability extending to your homes, autos, and watercraft at a group rate.
Group purchasing power eliminates individual qualifications.
Follows the limits provided by your underlying insurance company.
Covers you, your spouse/domestic partner, dependent children, and those which you
give permissible use.
Available in increments of $1 million, up to $50 million.
Worldwide coverage.
Simple, one-page application process.
Minimum of 10 members.
Additional coverages included:
Identity Fraud Expense
Kidnap Expense
Shadow Defense
Loss of Earnings
Reputational Injury
Directors & Officers / Not-for-Profits
If you or a member of your
team would be interested in
a complimentary risk
assessment of your
personal exposures, please
contact us!
Oswald Companies was pleased to recently have been a Dean’s Circle Sponsor
at the Robert P. Madison Tribute held at the Maxine Goodman Levin College of
Urban Affairs, January 7, 2015. Mr. Madison has been a valued client since
1995. Congratulations to him on this recognition!
Pictured from Left to Right: Eric Pempus, Darlene Kirchner, Robert P Madison, Salena Siner and Paula Selvaggio
Registration for
All Ohio 2015
will open toward
the beginning of
Please stay
Upcoming Events & Educational Opportunities
January 30th, 2015: Columbus: ACEC Columbus: Design/Build Issues – presented by
Eric Teske and Bob Gavin
February 17th, 2015: Cincinnati: Oswald Companies, New Office Celebration
February 19th, 2015: West Virginia Society of Land Surveyors – Risk Management for
Survey Firms – presented by Eric Teske and Eric Pempus
February 25th, 2015: Cleveland: Design-Build: Contractual Relationships, Risks & Rewards—1.5 AIA CEH, HSW presented by Tom Vickers, ESQ, and Paula Selvaggio, RPLU
and Eric Pempus, AIA of Oswald Companies (see page 7 for registration paperwork)
March 25-26th, 2015: West Virginia Construction & Design Exposition – Eric Teske and
Eric Pempus to present.
April 23, 2015: Columbus: All Ohio Convocation
Click HERE to visit our website for additional news & events! Or type the following into your web
browser: www.oswaldcompanies.com/property-and-casualty/ae/ae-events/
Oswald Companies was
pleased to pledge as a
Gold Level Sponsor
at the Cleveland
Design Awards.
Congratulations to all those
who rec’d awards that evening!
Pictured from Left to Right: Darlene Kirchner, Eric Pempus, Vanetee Bayne and Trish Kilroy
The National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) Cleveland
Chapter #156 will be hosting the North Central Regional Forum here in
Cleveland, OH. Please consider becoming a sponsor and help support
Women in Construction! Amy Hewis, Senior Administrative Assistant for the
Oswald A&E Team is proud to currently be serving as
President of NAWIC #156.
North Central Region Forum 2015
Advertising Opportunities
Program booklet advertising opportunities are inexpensive and
available to chapters, members and their supporting companies. The North Central Regional Forum Event is an annual educational event held for all
members from Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia, Michigan and out of region guests.
More than 100 construction business professionals and tradeswomen are expected to attend this high energy, educational and action-packed event.
Business cards, or your preformatted advertisement, can be submitted via regular mail or
electronically. Ad sizing may be required for oversized ads to assist with printing limitations. Electronic submissions, in a pdf, or high resolution jpg format should be sent to:
Amy Hewis, ahewis@oswaldcompanies.com, or for questions, call 216.367.1825. Checks
may be made out Cleveland NAWIC Chapter #156 Forum Account and mailed to 7555
Parkside Dr., Parma OH 44130
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