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CROSS Safety Report

Professional indemnity insurance issues raise safety concerns

Report ID: 1022 Published: 13 August 2021 Region: CROSS-UK


Overview

Several reporters have raised concerns in relation to significant cost increases and the introduction of new restrictions on professional indemnity insurance (PII) policies.

This is seen as a potential for the creation of concerning ‘gaps’ in the design process, as well as preventing companies taking on projects which could delay essential building safety work.

Key Learning Outcomes

For consulting engineers:

  • Begin broker engagement regarding PII policy renewals at an early stage

  • Work with your broker to ensure full and accurate business descriptions are given, with additional information including your firm’s risk management procedures

  • Make sure that you understand if there are limitations and exclusions to your PII cover and, if so, what those limitations and exclusions are before taking on work or when the scope of work is altered or extended

For clients:

  • When asking for evidence of professional indemnity insurance from those firms you engage, ensure any exclusions to scope of work are disclosed

Full Report

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One reporter says that insurers excluding certain activities, particularly in relation to fire, from insurance cover, potentially creates gaps in the design process. Gaps are already a source of concern, where design responsibility is not clearly defined. For example, the interface of the primary frame and the cladding is often not considered adequately, the main frame being under one designer and the cladding under a subcontract package. The situation is exacerbated by the enormous increases in premium and some businesses not being able to get cover at all.

Another reporter says that increasing premiums seem to be widespread. Quoting from the Temporary Works Forum Yearbook 2021/22,"consultants are seeing a worrying trend in the availability and affordability of professional indemnity (PI) insurance […] it may not be feasible to remain in business without significant increases in design fees. Will this drive consultants out of business?" . This reporter suggests anecdotally that one firm has decided to forgo insurance, which is concerning.

Furthermore, the findings of a recent pan-industry survey by the Construction Leadership Council pointed to widespread incidence of companies having to change the type of work they do because of restrictions on cover, with a quarter losing jobs because of tough conditions and limitations being placed on them by insurance firms. The survey results confirm that there is a widespread problem for many firms in being unable to obtain essential PI cover, which is having an impact on the ability of the industry to work, and undermining efforts to deliver remedial work to ensure building safety.

The survey results confirm that there is a widespread problem for many firms in being unable to obtain essential PI cover, which is having an impact on the ability of the industry to work, and undermining efforts to deliver remedial work to ensure building safety

Expert Panel Comments

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Expert Panels comment on the reports we receive. They use their experience to help you understand what can be learned from the reports. If you would like to know more, please visit the CROSS-UK Expert Panels page.

One Expert Panel Member suggests the consideration of the use of 'project-based' insurance to ensure that all organisations engaging on the project are adequately covered.

It is also recognised that this is a very current issue for many in the construction sector, typical of a hard insurance market.

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