Company slams 'shameful' fire exemptions from insurance policies

File photo dated 01/01/2018 of the Grenfell Tower fire in London. A ban on flammable cladding for ne

Ingleton Wood is seriously concerned about insurers excluding fire safety issues from professional indemnity insurance policies in the wake of the Grenfell tragedy - Credit: Natalie Oxford/PA Wire

A construction services firm has warned that schools and hospitals are being left exposed in the wake of the Grenfell fire tragedy as insurers leave out vital cover.

East Anglian property and construction consultancy Ingleton Wood has launched a campaign to tackle what it has labelled the "shameful" practice of excluding fire safety issues from professional indemnity (PI) insurance policies.

It claims that  "fire carve-outs" - or policy exemptions - are becoming increasingly common in the professional indemnity (PI) market, leaving schools and hospitals uninsured.

The company - which has six offices including in Norwich, Colchester and Cambridge - is calling on the government to take urgent action to ensure all consultancies are comprehensively insured, including for fire-related inspections and designs.

Consultants and professionals in the construction industry take out PI insurance to cover the cost of negligence claims which clients could make against them if an incident – such as a building fire – was caused by an error in design or a failure in specification.

But the Grenfell Tower tragedy has resulted in many underwriters leaving the PI insurance market because of the higher risks, with insurers either increasing premiums or cutting cover, it said.

Reports suggest that more and more PI policy proposals are not providing cover for any negligence claims connected to the fire safety or fire performance of a building.

David Cresswell of Ingleton Wood. Picture: Ingleton Wood

David Cresswell of Ingleton Wood said fire "carve-outs" are shameful documents - Credit: Ingleton Wood

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Ingleton Wood partner David Cresswell said: “We are very concerned about the rising prevalence of fire safety exclusions in professional indemnity policies.

“Fire carve-outs are shameful documents and essentially mean consultants would be uninsured for any passive or active fire issues, retrospectively as well as in the future.

“As we understand it, many other consultants are taking reduced cover as they simply cannot afford the full cover. This is a hugely damaging position for the industry and will no doubt have wider ramifications for building owners and occupiers.

“The built environment relies on competent consultants to apply the regulations in order to safeguard us all. It is therefore time for the government to step in with greater regulation or, even better, to underwrite the insurance itself. We are also lobbying local MPs, industry regulators and other stakeholders to help tackle this very serious issue.”

Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) president Alan Jones has said he is seriously concerned about insurers excluding fire safety issues from professional indemnity insurance policies and the organisation is lobbying government about the issue.

Ingleton Wood is one of the largest property and construction consultancies covering Central England, East Anglia, London and the South East. It provides a range of services including architecture, building surveying, building services engineering, planning, interior design, civil and structural engineering, quantity surveying, project management and health and safety.

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