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Insurance companies question timber-frame cover

Insurance companies including Aviva and Axa have warned that insurers may pull cover on timber-framed buildings.
The warning follows a surge in the number of fires in large timber-frame buildings and research indicating that 40% of fires costing more than £150,000 involved structures built using modern methods of construction, such as timber frame and light gauge steel frame.

This follows a report by the Association of British Insurers in December that found commercial fire claims were running at a 20-year high.

Allister Smith, property risk manager at insurer Aviva, said the firm was suffering “disproportionate losses” from large buildings built using modern methods of construction.

The warnings come as RISCAuthority today handed a report to the London Assembly fire investigation panel warning about the risks of timber frame.

The assembly will begin a probe into the issue on 16 March. It was prompted by a fire in the Lakanal housing block in Camberwell in July, in which six people died, and two fires on half-built timber-frame schemes in the same borough since December.

Douglas Barnett, head of customer risk management at insurer Axa, said: “We’ve had massive concerns about this for five to six years. What we now have is the evidence.”

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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