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Premium rates finally fall


IF THIS article had been written this time last year then all the talk would have been about the inflated insurance premiums being paid by demolition contractors.

While the whole industry has been hit hard by inf lated premiums in recent years the demolition sector seemed to take the brunt, based on the suggestion that such work carried more risks than other types.

But now it appears there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Firms are just starting to feel the choking grip of the underwriters start to slacken off.

'Last year was horrendous. We were being held to ransom, ' says Button Linguard MD Roy Gibbons. 'Even firms with good reputations were finding their premiums were going up. For some firms they doubled. There was a backlash by the industry. The NFDC made representations to Parliament to get insurers to try to explain why we should be seen as a bigger risk. Fortunately more insurers have come into the market, which seems to have helped improve flexibility.' John F Hunt managing director John Hall also welcomes more sensible premiums.

He says: 'Insurance premiums are a burden you just have to live with, but the levels they were at recently cannot be justified. We are hoping, and have been told, they will settle down a bit this year.' David Darsey of Erith says he is already seeing a saving on previous years, thanks to a more insurers in the market and a bet ter approach to quantifying risk.

'The insurance situation has calmed down. We are now paying less than we were last year, ' he says. 'I've spoken to a couple of other firms in the industry recently and they have said the same thing. They are saving about 10 per cent on their premiums compared to last year. I think it is a result of people breaking things down more. Rather than just insuring a demolition job you insure each element individually. That way you are only paying for the risks you take.' He adds that a new site audit scheme from the NFDC may help to prove that members have safe sites, helping them to reduce costs further.