What do insurers need to know?

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As the use of engineered timber products increases, there is an ongoing debate from across many sectors, from the designers, contractors, building owners and users, right through to the insurance sector. As insurers are being asked more often to look at timber-based schemes, there is a requirement to evaluate the insurance premium requirements against the differing risks to those of concrete and steel frame structures

There are many risk factors that insurers have to consider when underwriting a structural timber construction both at the build stage, through completion and into occupancy.

Many of these risks may be common to all types of construction, while others may stem from a lack of experience, or through understanding of the technical details as this as seen as a relatively new method of building in the UK. ThIs new approach to building, using materials such as Cross Laminated Timber (CLT), also doesn’t fit into the long-established construction classes and therefore there is a comparative lack of data to help insurers when underwriting these types of buildings.

If there is a desire to support timber construction, to meet the challenges and to help the government achieve its net zero target by 2050, then there are some elements that need to be taken into consideration to lower the premiums of a structural timber building, these may include:

  • Ensuring early contractual involvement
  • Bringing in insurance brokers on board as early as possible
  • Selecting contractors with experience of working with CLT
  • Creating a fully formed fire/water damage plan for insurers before going on site
  • Making sure that FM contractors adhere to all rules and regulations, ensuring that any ‘penetrations’ are re-firestopped to main protections