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The insurance market has failed to keep pace with the construction sector – it’s time to improve collaboration

The outlook according to key players across the construction sector and the insurance industry.

Key players in the construction sector recently met with leading construction insurers to discuss current trends and debate the future outlook for their industries.

The meeting of minds was organised following a discussion between Lucas Fettes & Partners and Constructing Excellence, the organisation charged with driving the change agenda in construction. In light of the rapid changes in the construction sector, Constructing Excellence wished to explore with insurers the way in which new insurance models could be created to better align the interests of both the insurance and the construction industry and enable innovative and more efficient funding frameworks in a way that would reduce risk and  encourage more collaborative working.

As the construction sector changes, insurers are finding that their traditional products and underwriting techniques are in danger of becoming outmoded. Whilst many acknowledge the need to change, acting on it is a huge challenge, and the development of new approaches can only happen if there is effective collaboration between clients, investors, contractors and the insurance industry.

Building Information Modelling (BIM); new design and construction technology; a shift towards pre-manufacturing and off-site building; a shorter lifespan for built assets and improved data all have ramifications – presenting opportunities and challenges in equal measure – for those who construct buildings, those who finance them those who manage the risks. Several key themes developed as these issues were discussed.

We have produced a video: Where will the construction insurance market be in 5 years’ time? A dialogue that is long overdue.

Key insights from the discussion include:

  • On any given project there are multiple insurers underwriting the same risk, resulting in significant over-insurance and driving behavioural norms towards a litigious rather than collaborative approach. Projects too often seem to be to be set up for a win-lose scenario. True collaboration can only come from the alignment of each party’s commercial needs.
  • An insurance product that caps out-turn costs could take away the potential for conflict by looking at how much can be priced in, instead of out, of cover. Again, success requires a shared commercial interest.
  • Connectivity and the Internet of Things may bring about an insurance product that extends beyond the build project and into the operational lifecycle of the building. “If you can understand how a building is going to age, then it is possible to model.”
  • BIM creates the availability of tools to provide information – management information is readily accessible on a tablet or in app form. Will that drive different lending behaviours or create different types of lenders? New technological underwriting techniques will be a major disruptor, making it possible to bypass traditional means of insurance.
  • Technology is only ever an enabler. The maturity and competency of the client is critical. What is their track record? Do they have the right leadership? How much do they care? Just how invested are they in the project? Businesses that derive the most value will be those that invest in building BIM into their transformational programmes, such as health and safety and HR.
  • Data now is far more valuable than the physical assets that underlie it. Competitive advantage does not come from holding on to your own data, but from sharing and pooling data, then competing on the ability to analyse and get value from it.
  • Underwriters must have a joint seat at the table with a client. Brokers have traditionally enjoyed being able to control the relationship but, now, a good broker will allow the insurer to get in front of the client.

We have produced a video: Where will the construction insurance market be in 5 years’ time? Key insights from our roundtable discussion.

Following the success of the evening – described as a “ground-breaking event” and the start of a conversation that is long overdue – all parties involved agreed that there was scope for further exploration and development of some of the thoughts and ideas discussed. The intention is to expand the conversation out into a series of regional events over the coming months, to continue to drive debate and encourage greater collaboration and innovation between the sectors.

Lucas Fettes and Constructing Excellence have published a report that covers these themes and more, in more detail.

Participants

The roundtable discussion at the City of London Club was chaired by Richard Heighton, Managing Director of Lucas Fettes, and participants were:

Aviva Jonathan Smith – Head of Commercial SME Solutions & Schemes
AXA Insurance Douglas Barnett – Head of Customer Risk Management
CNA Hardy Christian Taylor – Senior Legal Counsel
Constructing Excellence Don Ward – Chief Executive
Costain Limited Adam Golden – Legal Executive
Heathrow Airport Limited Paul Goulding – Head of Insurance
Protek Group Limited Simon Middleton – Director
RSA Insurance Nick Newlove – Construction Director
Synaps Partners LLP Madoc Batcup – Managing Partner
(also Chair of Constructing Excellence Funding & Finance Group)
Tokio Marine HCC Chris Ashmead – Regional Underwriting Manager
Turner & Townsend Paul Connolly – Managing Director

Report

Constructing Excellence and Lucas Fettes – The Future for Construction Insurance December 2016

One thought on “The insurance market has failed to keep pace with the construction sector – it’s time to improve collaboration”

  1. This is so interesting, as greater connectivity and alignment between parties is much needed. A liability allocated to a party under a construction contract may be substantial and the party accepting a risk often chooses to cover its liability with insurance. Insurance also protects the party to whom liability is owed as the party accepting the risk may be unable to discharge its liability unless it has insured against the risk. ‘All risks’ insurance, professional indemnity, product liability insurance, public liability insurance, and latent defects insurance are the most common within roofing and construction projects.

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