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Is insurance for panelled buildings still a problem?

The use of composite or sandwich panels in the construction of buildings for the food industry has long been frowned upon by insurers. This follows a series of large scale insurance losses if not caused by, certainly exacerbated by such construction methods.

This being said they remain prevalent due to their thermal qualities and convenience from a food hygiene perspective.  They are also expensive to change for more modern approved panels if you are not already budgeting to renew them or alter your buildings.

So the question is, does this still represent a problem for insurers?

The answer as ever is not entirely straight forward and lies within a combination of the types of linings used and the business activities being carried out within the building.

If you have a combination of polystyrene panels, with cooking activities, insurers are going to be obviously nervous about the impact the inception of fire could have.  The fire brigade are unwilling to enter a building unless there is a risk to lives and therefore will simply try and dowse any fire externally, usually resulting in the loss of the building.

This can have far reaching consequences for the insurer and business alike as not only will the insurer need to pay to replace the building, there are the consequential losses to consider.  How long can the business survive without its premises?  A good business continuity plan is essential, but how long before the customers begin to source alternative suppliers?

In view of the these risks the food industry has been forced to improve risk management processes to pay particular attention to the risk of a fire happening in the first place, with planned maintenance, panel inspections, fixed wiring checks and thermographic testing all coming to the fore.

Businesses that put these measures in place, whilst still having a restricted number of insurers to choose from compared with many other industries, will be able to obtain insurance at more reasonable terms and potentially have a small number of insurers to choose from. 

For modern buildings with “approved” panels there will inevitably be more choice available, even where cooking is present.  However, good risk management practices will lead to a good claims experience and a wide range of insurers to choose from.

To see how ProAktive can assist you with managing your risks and finding the right insurer for you, please contact Sam Leeder on 01302 341 344 or @ProAktive_Sam

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