LONDON, 14th OCTOBER 2009 – 54% of UK builders are not covered for accidents or injury to the public, according to data from Coverzones, the business insurance comparison and policy management site, which has analysed a sample of 4,500 requests for insurance quotes between April and June this year.
Builders and scaffolders least protected against public damage. According to the 2009 Construction Insurance Report, bricklayers demonstrated the greatest concern for public protection with 91 per cent looking for public liability insurance, followed by flooring contactors (88%), maintenance professionals (75%) and roofers (74%). Worryingly, however just 46 per cent of builders and 32 per cent of scaffolders looked for cover. Among the non-manual trades in the industry, just 29% of architects were seeking to purchase cover while no draughtsmen looked for quotes in the three month period. According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), construction is both Britain’s largest and one of its most dangerous industries. In 2008, 94 members of the public were killed as a result of construction work while many more have been injured or made ill.
Simon Ball, CEO of Coverzones: “Although Public Liability insurance is not mandatory, for businesses undertaking manual work in the construction industry it is probably the most important type of cover you can have. Public Liability covers policy holders against accidents and injury to the public, clients or customers. In an industry where work frequently involves heights, semi-built structures and hazardous environments, it is worrying that so many building professionals are either unaware of or are simply not looking to get this kind of cover. Although the current economic conditions may offer the temptation to cut corners on insurance cover this is actually a false economy. The costs of public claims resulting from accidents can potentially be crippling to a business.”
Only architects, draughtsmen and double glazing installers protected against mistakes
In the three month period, only architects (71%), draughtsmen (46%) and double glazing installers (3%) looked for quotes for Professional Indemnity (PI) insurance which covers policy holders against business mistakes. The ARB code makes PI mandatory for architects but other professions such as builders and roofers that are not covered are potentially exposing themselves to risk from compensation claims. The lack of demand from these professions, who do not have a unifying trade body to set guidelines for insurance, suggests that trade bodies are viewed as promoters of best practice when it comes to risk assessment, and that non-mandatory insurance is of little interest for those seeking cover in financially challenging times – unless they have the support and advice of a trade body behind them.
Ball continued: “Imagine a situation where a workman advised on an extension or removal of a wall only to discover that the structure had been fatally damaged or weakened as a result of their advice. In this era of increasing litigation, the workmen involved could well be liable to an expensive claim and, without Professional Indemnity cover, would have to pay any compensation claims out of their own pockets. Mistakes or wrong advice concerning building defects, easements, materials or labour fees could potentially leave this group in a highly vulnerable position.”
Draughtsmen were the best covered profession in regard to PI. Although just 46% enquired about individual policies, 54% also enquired about policy packages which combined Professional Indemnity with Employers and Public Liability cover.
Tradesmen not covering their tools
The vast majority of trades in the construction industry are not covered for loss or damage to tools or plant or damage to business contents as afforded by tradesman insurance. Plasterers are most interested in this type of insurance but still, only 27% are looking for it. Very low levels of demand for this sort of insurance were recorded for professions with a heavy reliance on equipment, such as scaffolders (17%), builders (14%) and roofers (5%) and some professions, such as bricklayers and ceiling and partitioning contractors are making no active enquires.