The subject of asbestos cover is one that has been in the spotlight for many years since the restriction (and in some cases the complete withdrawal) of professional indemnity insurance (PII) cover for asbestos risks in 2002/03.
Wider cover is now available in the PII market to those consultancy firms that might inadvertently come across asbestos in the normal course of their activities, although it will not usually be offered to those firms undertaking asbestos inspections.
In the past, cover has generally only been available for negligence claims in respect of the direct cost of remediation or diminution in value of property due to the presence of asbestos. Any indirect costs, such as consequential delay costs, would have been excluded. With a few exceptions, cover can now be obtained for any asbestos related negligence claims regardless of whether the loss in question relates directly to remediation or diminution in value, and cover will therefore extend to cover economic and consequential losses. The exceptions relate to bodily injury claims and claims relating to property located outside the United Kingdom (including the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man) and the Republic of Ireland, which continue to be generally excluded.
Those firms undertaking ‘management’ and ‘refurbishment or demolition’ surveys as described in the Health and Safety Executive guide HSG264 (previously known as type I, II or III asbestos surveys) or similar surveys are unlikely to qualify for the wider cover and will need to negotiate specific cover with their insurers or approach a specialist provider. Consultants with UKAS accreditation should note that UKAS requires Accredited Bodies to carry asbestos cover for bodily injury claims and this is available to such bodies via specialist markets. If you require assistance with this, then please do not hesitate to contact Griffiths & Armour using the contact details below.
For those consultants who may appoint sub-consultants to undertake asbestos inspections on their behalf it is worth remembering that, in the eyes of the law, you are fully responsible for their actions and any claim that arises from work they may have undertaken is likely to expose the consultant’s PII policy in the first instance. If you are appointing third parties to undertake asbestos inspections then you should check the terms of your PII policy to ensure that you are adequately protected.
The scope of cover provided under PII policies can vary considerably and if you are in any doubt about the extent of asbestos cover under your own PII policy you should consult with your broker for further advice.
Griffiths & Armour Professional Risks
0151 600 2071