Civil liability of an accounting office - is it always obligatory?
One of the main responsibilities of an accounting office is to take out third party liability insurance. What is the legal basis for this obligation? What is the sum insured and what is its scope? We check whether the possession of the civil liability of the accounting office is required in each case of providing accounting services!
The legal basis for the obligation to conclude a civil liability insurance agreement by accounting offices
The fact of the obligation to conclude a third party liability insurance contract by accounting offices is regulated in a very unilateral manner by the ordinance of the Minister of Finance of November 6, 2014, which imposes such an obligation on entities operating in the field of bookkeeping services.
Pursuant to the same regulation, the date of concluding the insurance contract should be in line with the date of commencing business activity. What does it mean in practice for entrepreneurs opening an accounting office? You should be interested in liability insurance before registering your business. If a delay of even one day is detected by the controlling authorities, there is a high probability that a financial fine will be imposed.
The scope of liability insurance of the accounting office
What does the purchased third party liability insurance of the accounting office protect us against? First of all, against civil liability related to damages resulting from keeping accounting books. As it is commonly known, the specificity of the activity of accounting offices requires due diligence and keeping deadlines. In the event of an omission or action resulting in the customer's detriment, the accounting office is charged with a financial penalty or fine. In such situations, all amounts of compensation, penalties or other compensation will be covered by the purchased policy.
What are the exclusions of the scope of insurance? The civil liability insurance will not cover any losses related to the overall HR and payroll activities. In this aspect, the calculation of ZUS contributions, salaries or tax issues is not included in the scope of third party liability insurance. In addition, any damage caused by errors in the processing of personal data will not be covered by insurance. Liability liability is also not covered for damages consisting in the payment of contractual penalties.
The last exception is the lack of protection in the case of omissions or mistakes made while keeping the tax book of revenues and expenses, which is used in the case of simplified accounting. What is the guarantee amount for the obligatory third party liability insurance of accounting offices? This issue is also regulated by the ordinance of the Minister of Finance. The minimum guarantee amount in 2021 in relation to a single event is exactly EUR 10,000. Converted into PLN, according to the average exchange rate of the National Bank of Poland, all losses worth up to PLN 45,485 will be covered by the insurer.
What to look for when buying civil liability of an accounting office?
Due to the introduction of the obligation to purchase compulsory third party liability insurance, more and more insurance companies decide to introduce just such an insurance product to their offer. For accounting offices, this is a favorable situation that will allow them to choose freely from among many offers. What is worth paying attention to when looking for the right OC offer from an accounting office?
First of all, the value of the premium that the company will pay for protection. As with the popular TPL for vehicle owners, here too, different insurers calculate the insurance premium by weighing the risk, past incidents, and many other variables. Regardless, however, insurers offer us lower and higher rates, and the one we choose, of course, depends on us.
Other factors that may facilitate our decision are the possibility of increasing the guaranteed amount, as well as the possibility of extending the insurance cover to the HR and payroll area, which is not covered by standard insurance. This is an attractive opportunity for companies whose activities are based mainly on support in HR processes or for those accounting offices that provide services to large clients. Most offices also settle clients using simplified accounting, so it is worth taking care of third party liability insurance in this area of activity.
Traditional insurers offer us the option of paying the premium as one payment or in installments, which may of course have an impact on the final value of the insurance premium.
Consequences of the lack of civil liability of the accounting office
A very important fact is that the third party liability insurance of the accounting office that keeps the books of accounts is fully compulsory, and this is confirmed by the provisions of the Accounting Act.
Pursuant to these provisions, failure to meet the obligation to have valid civil liability insurance may result in a fine and, in extreme cases, even restriction of freedom. Of course, in the absence of third party liability insurance, an accounting office which, due to an oversight, harmed the client, will have to pay for damages or fines from its own resources. Some accounting offices, due to the failure to provide bookkeeping services, do not have any liability insurance, as it is not required by law. It is worth noting, however, that due to the deregulation of the accounting profession, considerable competition has arisen on the market among accounting offices. Having a third party liability policy is a signal to a potential client that a given office has a professional approach to the services it provides.
Other formal requirements related to running an accounting office
Entrepreneurs who plan to set up their own accounting office with bookkeeping in the future must be aware of certain requirements that must be met in order for such activity to be fully legalized.
Of course, the obligation to conclude a third party liability insurance contract is one of the conditions. In addition, however, service activities may only be performed by those entrepreneurs who have full legal capacity, and who have never been convicted by a final court judgment for an offense related to economic turnover, financial turnover, fiscal offenses or forgery of accounting documents.