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PII restrictions “continue to harm industry” suggests latest CLC survey

14 June 2022

THE LIMITED availability of professional indemnity insurance (PII), in tandem with costly premiums, is continuing to harm construction businesses and limit firms’ ability to work on building safety remediation. That’s according to the second annual survey conducted by the Construction Leadership Council’s (CLC) PII Group.

The cross-industry survey reveals no real easing in the PII cover available to the profession since the PII Group carried out its first survey on this matter 12 months ago. The 2022 survey, which received 652 responses, has found that, although high-rise residential work represents just 5% or less of the current workload for two-thirds of businesses, many are still suffering from increased premiums and excess levels, coupled with wide-ranging exclusions on cover.

The CLC PII Group is “particularly concerned” that the situation is having a disproportionate effect on the ability of SMEs to take on work where cover for fire safety is required, to pay their premiums and to meet their claim excess in the event of a claim coming to fruition.

Nearly one-in-five (ie 17%) of respondents are paying more than 5% of their turnover for their annual premium. One-in-20 (5%) are paying more than 10% of their turnover for their premium, which is unsustainable for smaller businesses. Nearly a quarter (22%) of respondents are still unable to buy the cover they want or need. This represents a slight improvement on the 29% recorded in 2021.

Further, close on seven out of every ten respondents (68%) had restrictions on cover for fire safety (the same as in 2021). A quarter (24%) have lost jobs as a result of inadequate PI insurance compared with 31% in 2021, while three out of every ten respondents (30%) have changed the nature of their work due to inadequate PII. This figure compares with 29% last year.

More than four-in-ten (42%) said that the experience of buying PII was significantly worse than their last renewal. A third (33%) of respondents have been declined insurance by three insurers or more, which is an improvement on 2021 when this figure stood at 44%.

Slightly more respondents have secured a claim excess that’s 2% or less of their turnover (67% of them, in fact, compared to 64% last year). Just over one-in-ten (12%) harbour an excess that’s 21% of their turnover or more compared to 4% of respondents last year. There has been a slight improvement in the amount of cover available for ‘any one claim’ rather than ‘in the aggregate’ (64% compared to 60% last year).

Commenting on the survey results, Samantha Peat (managing director at Wren Managers and chair of the CLC’s PII Group) stated: “The market conditions for PII cover remain extremely tough for construction firms, and particularly so SMEs. In light of the energy price rises and materials inflation, these are worrying times. The CLC’s PII Group will continue to work with Government and insurers to try and ease the situation.”