The insurance industry reacts to Grenfell
The tragic events at Grenfell Tower last month have raised a multitude of questions regarding fire safety regulations. The government’s suggestion that the external cladding fitted to the building was not fit for purpose mean that the spotlight is likely to fall on composite panels once more.
The insurance world has always had a love-hate relationship with composite panels. Used correctly, they can offer a low cost, low maintenance option for the exteriors of buildings as well as providing significant insulation.
However, it’s important to recognise the risks posed by the insulation. Rock fibre or mineral wood fillings are the most fireproof, with resistance times of up to 4 hours (though these come with their own risks) whereas Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) offers no resistance times and once lit often re-ignites, forming molten burning droplets.
Leading up to the results of the Grenfell tower inquiry (and perhaps beyond) it’s likely that the attitude towards composite panels will further deteriorate. The market already takes a very tough line, with the majority of the market refusing to offer cover but Grenfell is likely to make obtaining cover even harder.
This impact won’t just affect residential property owners but commercial owners as well. Failure to deal with the potential risk being increasingly highlighted will expose companies to an insurance market unwilling to provide cover and potentially expose company directors to Directors & Officers claims.
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