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"Prior to Grenfell, insurance was very straightforward"

"Prior to Grenfell, insurance was very straightforward" | Insurance Business

"Prior to Grenfell, insurance was very straightforward"

Earlier this year the Construction Industry Council launched a poll to understand the extent to which terms for insurance were being revised following the Grenfell Tower fire. Now an architecture firm looks back at the difficulties and at how an independent insurance broker provided relief.   

“The insurance market changed radically post-Grenfell,” noted John Freeman, director at Nottingham-based architect Church Lukas. “With the media focusing mainly on cladding, and a public enquiry underway, insurers perceived any tall building as an insurance risk.

“Prior to Grenfell, insurance was very straightforward – we would receive our policy renewal form, complete it and send it back. Premiums would fluctuate slightly, but post-Grenfell they have increased significantly.”

The rise in premiums, however, wasn’t the only insurance woe brought about by the tragedy.

“When it came to renewing our policy, we faced an increase in premiums, but also a reluctance on the part of insurers to cover previously completed buildings above 18 metres without the inclusion of onerous caveats,” said Freeman.

“As we work in sectors including student accommodation, residential, office, and industrial this presented a particular problem.”

A problem which independent insurance broker Russell Scanlan managed to solve. The fellow Nottingham company was described as having “worked doubly hard” to make sure the architecture firm had an insurer in place and wasn’t left in a compromising position. 

“The Russell Scanlan team was very thorough in going back to the insurance market and explaining what we did differently to reassure them,” recalled Freeman. “It was a case of navigating the market at a time when there was significant upheaval across the construction sector, both in terms of contractors who deliver the work and architects who design the buildings.”

Meanwhile the broker’s managing director, Bryan Banbury (pictured), said the insurance market has proved to be very challenging following the Grenfell blaze.

“Professional indemnity insurance underpins the business of architects, but many have found insurers are reluctant to provide cover,” he noted. “In the case of Church Lukas, we found the information necessary to obtain quotes on their behalf and approached the market.

“Through some long-winded negotiations, we managed to find a solution they were happy with in terms of both cover and additional services to assist with checking contract wordings. We’re pleased to say they now have a stable insurer and we’re delighted we could help.”