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Professional Negligence Claims - Architects, Builders and Surveyors Affected

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Providers of professional indemnity insurance in the UK have revealed the massive increases in premiums over the past two years for Architects, Builders and Surveyors following the Grenfell Tower tragedy in June 2017.

The high-rise fire at Grenfell, in which 72 people died and 70 more were injured, was the UK’s worst residential fire since the WW2. As well has having a big impact on fire safety procedures and the construction and refurbishment methods that are used for high-rise buildings, the rise in professional indemnity premiums – by more than 200% in some cases – may put future developments at risk as professionals find it hard to afford cover.

Professional indemnity insurance (‘PI Insurance’) is a type of insurance designed to protect businesses in the event that a client deems work produced or professional advice provided as inadequate. PII is designed to prevent you from suffering a financial loss when defending or settling a claim. Since Grenfell, PI insurers are increasingly excluding cladding from their policies. Overall increases in premiums are averaging 50-100%, but in certain cases premium increases have topped 400% over 2 years. A spokeswoman for the Royal Institute of British Architects said that “a doubling or tripling of premium is not uncommon”. Such increases are likely to negatively impact refurbishment and construction projects in the UK, including government plans to increase the numbers of homes that will be built over the next few years. One chartered surveyor commented that:

We are reaching a point where I am really fearful that if a building has fire-resistant cladding issues, professionals will be reluctant, or even unable, to become involved.”

Following several years of losses and the risk of a significant increase in future claim costs, some insurers have pulled out of the PI insurance market in 2019. Such reduction in choice and competition in the PI insurance market has also contributed to the rise premiums. The Association of British Insurers (‘ABI’) has said that following a 2018 review that described the UK’s current building regulations as being ‘not fit for purpose’, many insurers are nervous about the interpretation of building regulations as a result, leading them “to question what they are actually insuring the construction sector for.”

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