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Hard times ahead in a hard Professional Indemnity market

As many of our property and construction clients will be aware from press articles and communications with their professional bodies, the cheap PI rates experienced in the “soft” UK insurance market for over a decade have come to an end and professionals and contractors are now feeling the impact of increased PI premiums and in some cases more restrictive cover.

What has caused this? 

Lloyd’s of London conducted a review of its worst performing lines of business in 2018 with PI insurance being the second worst performing class (USA property business was the worst). In 2017 Lloyd’s Syndicates incurred £272m in claims but only collected £170m in premium for Architects, Engineers and construction risks; a situation which is unsustainable.

Several Lloyd’s Syndicates and specialist insurers have withdrawn from the PI market during 2018 and 2019 and no new entrants have taken their place, so there is reduced capacity.

The Grenfell Tower fire has led to concerns about the construction industry in general, both in terms of building regulations and fire safety, which has led to greater regulatory scrutiny. PI insurers have reported difficulties in being able to pass claims for construction projects down the line to designers and consultants. This has led to an increasing number of insurers scaling back on capacity or withdrawing from the PI insurance market entirely. Consequently we are now in a “hard” insurance market.

What effects are we seeing? 

  • Insurers increasing their rates with the result of significant increases in PI premium levels as the costs are being passed to businesses.
  • Insurers being more diligent and proactive with their risk assessment before quoting or offering renewal of PI cover.
  • Punitive terms are being imposed, such as reduced limits of indemnity, higher excesses, restrictions in cover or cover exclusions.
  • In some cases, insurers are declining to offer renewal terms in the event of significant risk exposure or where there are existing claims or notifications.
  • Slower response times from insurers as insurers are inundated because more firms are looking for alternative PI cover in the hope they can find more competitive renewal premiums.

Insurers may now be declining to quote risks or professions where they would have been eager to provide terms in previous years.  2019 renewal premiums in some cases may be up by 25% or more. This can be hard to understand, particularly for businesses which have not had any claims and where turnover has remained stable.  Many property related professionals (not just Architects and Design & Construct risks) may experience challenges in renewing their PI insurance at terms that they consider are suitable or affordable. 

Which professions is this affecting?

The following professions have so far experienced the greatest impact:

  • Architects
  • Design and Construct
  • Surveyors (particularly those involved in mortgage/lending valuations)
  • Building and Engineering Contractors
  • Property Managers
  • Commercial Investment Agents

However, it is anticipated that premium increases will filter through across all professions during the second half of 2019 and there is likely to be a continued impact on availability, cost and capacity over the next few years.

How will this impact and what can be done?

  • There may be delays in insurers response times and unexpected premium increases and/or restrictions in cover.
  • Don’t assume that renewal of your PI insurance will be a simple formality and that terms will remain similar to last year. The low premiums of recent years are a thing of the past.
  • Allow plenty of time before renewal to prepare. As a minimum submit your renewal presentation at least 3-4 weeks prior to your renewal date.
  • Provide a comprehensive insight and detailed information into the running of your business together with details of new projects, changes to activities and any variations to your directors and partners.
  • Keep the information clear, concise and consistent. Make your renewal presentation with care and demonstrate that you have a clear vision of the outlook for the future and where the firm is going.

For more information regarding your PI needs, please contact Verena Cole or Anna Lloyd at our Bristol office on 0117 387 8880/8881.

JLL Property Triathlon 2019

The Arlington team took part in the JLL Property Triathlon on Friday 28th June and helped raise over £230,000 for JLL’s charity partner, Crisis.

The Arlington team took part in the JLL triathlon on Friday 28th June and helped raise over £230,000 for JLL’s charity partner Crisis. The Sprint Triathlon format consisted of a 750m open water swim followed by a 21.4k bike ride finishing with a 5k run all set around One of the venues of the 2012 Olympic Games, Dorney Lake!

Congratulations to Ciaran (Swim), Sarah (Cycle) and Rachel (Run) who competed in the Mixed Relay event  and to Nick and Louis who participated in the Individual Mens competition. It was a great day in the sunshine and we look forward to entering again next year.

HIGH NET WORTH INSURANCE

Are you a “High Net Worth” client

If your buildings sum insured is around £500,000 and contents £100,000 then you might fall into this category depending on the insurer and it’s certainly sensible to consider a High Net Worth contract when your sums insured reach this level.

What Is High Net Worth Insurance And What Does It Cover?

The benefits of this bespoke cover are significant and below is a list of some of the wider cover provided by a High Net Worth policy:

  • Contents cover automatically applies worldwide on an all risks basis
  • No under insurance penalties
  • Trace and access cover up to full buildings sum insured
  • Automatic cover for newly bought or acquired items
  • Specified items insured on agreed value basis
  • Automatic identity and credit card fraud with high limits
  • Worldwide annual travel cover with no conditions for pre-existing medical conditions
  • No “pairs and sets” clause so the undamaged item(s) in a pair or set is also covered.
  • Cover for students belongings up to the full contents sum insured
  • Second homes and holiday homes  – UK and overseas properties
  • Yachts, sailing and speed boats

Did you know?

Reports suggest that Wines, Jewellery and pieces of Art are three of the Top Ten under-insured items on Home insurance policy.

Wines – Your carefully selected Wine collection is your pride and joy. It’s stored and cared for in a way that only wine can be. Is it correctly valued and up to date on your Insurance policy?

Jewellery – Your limited edition Rolex or Platinum Engagement ring is something you would not want to be without. Is it covered for the correct amount? How old is the valuation?

Art and Antiques – Works of art and antiques are, by definition, irreplaceable! We know this. With the correct cover, at least you will know you will compensated sufficiently should your beloved 18th Century Oak Bureau or 21st Century Banksy become lost or damaged!

High value possessions require greater level of protection, which are not normally covered by standard household policies.

Talk to us today to protect your high value assets and possessions as at Arlington Insurance we can arrange cover for High Net Worth individuals who need specialised insurance that reflects their lifestyle and offers the right level of cover and flexibility.

Hundreds of commercial properties “sitting targets” for waste criminals

It a well known fact that industrial units have always been targeted by waste criminals, leaving premises full of waste, often structurally damaged and with a costly clean-up bill.

Now investigations by the Environment Agency have revealed that ‘baled waste crime’ is on the increase. The waste is often plastic, builders, commercial or household rubbish that cannot be recycled and which has no monetary value.

Click here to read the full press release from the EA on this subject.

What are the risks of waste and how can you prevent yourself from becoming a waste crime victim?

There are several risks to property owners if waste ends up being illegally dumped on your land or premises.

  • Financial: waste illegally dumped will have to be removed to a permitted waste site. This inevitably falls to the property owner and the costs can be high.
  • Reputational: illegal waste dumping can result in considerable local and national media attention. These sorts of activities can damage reputations.
  • Enforcement: anyone involved in the illegal keeping, treatment and disposal of controlled waste commits an offence, in some cases even if it is done unwittingly. The Environment Agency can serve notice on property owners to clean up any waste left on their land if not correctly permitted.

Steps to take to protect yourself

Ensure you understand what your tenants business is:

  1. Ask if your tenant is involved in waste activities on your land
  2. Check if they have the necessary authorisations in place to carry out the activity, including planning permissions
  3. Use the Public Register to check your tenant has a current permit or carrier/broker registration: www.gov.uk/guidance/access-the-public-register-for-environmental-information
  4. Make sure you understand the difference between a site that is permitted by the  Environment Agency and one that is register exempt.
  5. Familiarise yourself with the relevant legislation and the risks posed to you if a site doesn’t meet the conditions of their permit or the terms of their exemption. An operator who registers an exemption yet fails to comply with the conditions set out in that exemption is carrying out an illegal activity.

Carry out rigorous checks on prospective new tenants:

  1. Make sure you secure adequate identification documents and a down payment from a traceable bank account.
  2. Use freely available information such as Companies House Beta. https://beta.companieshouse.gov.uk/
  3. If you are renting to a newly formed company, make sure you meet and initially deal with the Company Director.
  4. Investigate the status of the new company’s finances to ensure they are strong.
  5. Check if the new company has a website and look to see if contact details match those you have been given.
  6. Ensure you know what business they intend to carry out in your unit and that is appropriate for the unit size. Check their business model make sense. Ask for examples or references for work done elsewhere.
  7. Be cautious if your prospective new tenants arrive on foot and not in a vehicle.
  8. Make sure you check out the details of any witness to the lease agreements, to be sure they are plausible and traceable.

Check that tenants are operating properly by carrying out periodic inspections and audits. Any of the following could indicate they are not operating the business they said:

  1. More lorry movements that you would expect for their business
  2. Activities on site at strange hours of the day and night
  3. Evidence of unusual odours and/or pests
  4. Complaints from adjacent tenants about their new neighbours.

Share information on poor practice and suspected wrong-doing:

  1. The Environment Agency are looking for you to share information with a view to building effective partnerships, work together more efficiently and make earlier, more targeted interventions.
  2. You can contact the Environment Agency incident hotline 24/7 on 0800 807060.
  3. Or send information anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or online at www.crimestoppers-uk.org.
  4. The reports they receive through Crimestoppers help them to identify companies that are illegally operating or exporting waste illegally.

What if it happens to you?

Many property owners policies contain an element of cover for Fly Tipping to pay for the costs in clearing and removing any property illegally deposited so if you do have an occurrence please contact us so we can notify your insurer.

Arlington Charity Cycle Ride to Yemen

We are in Yemen!!

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We are pleased to alert you that we have completed our 8,105 km virtual cycle ride to Yemen, which we have completed with a day still in hand.

Well done to everybody who participated. It is a great achievement for a great cause and hopefully you all had as much fun as we did! It was a pleasure being teammates with you all.

Total Distance Covered : 5289.5 Miles / 8512.7 km

This cycle was to raise funds and awareness for Save the Children’s Yemen Crisis Appeal. The mission involved teams using static spin bikes to race to the finish line in 31 days or less.

If you are interested in finding out more or donating, please visit our JustGiving page; https://lnkd.in/d6VqM6K

Any donations would be much appreciated.