UK Building Sector Hit by Surge in Insurance Costs

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Two years after a fire killed 71 people at London’s Grenfell Tower, insurance premiums for building contractors, architects and surveyors have surged by as much as several hundred percent, risking future projects, industry sources say. 

According to Reuters, combustible materials used to refurbish Grenfell were central to the chain of events in June 2017 that turned an ordinary kitchen fire into an inferno, an official inquiry said last month. 

As a result, insurers are increasingly excluding cladding from professional indemnity (PI) policies which protect construction professionals against negligence claims. 

“Professionals are finding it harder to access cover in the UK market and premiums are rising,” said one PI insurer, adding that “the range varies wildly – from 10 per cent to well in excess of 100 per cent”. 

David Stocks, construction PI broker at Gallagher, said for building contractors, rate increases could vary from 10 per cent to 300 – 400 per cent, though the average was 50-100%. 

A spokeswoman for the Royal Institute of British Architects said “a The difficulties of finding insurance could affect refurbishment and construction projects, including government targets to increase housebuilding, the sources said. 

“We are reaching a point where I am really fearful that if a building has fire-resistant cladding issues, professionals will be reluctant, or even unable, to become involved,” said chartered surveyor Peter Vinden, chief executive of The Vinden Partnership. 

A review of building regulations and fire safety in England in 2018 said the regulations were “not fit for purpose” and called for a “radical rethink” of the system.