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UPDATE: Grenfell Tower

Time of upload: 08.01.2018 – 08.17
We will continue to update this page regularly, as and when is necessary.

 

The events at Grenfell Tower are tragic with wide-reaching impact and we have had a number of queries from customers, brokers, government and other parties.

We have created a multi-disciplinary group to collate and review customer queries and to provide specific technical support and guidance where appropriate.

Recommendations

In response to the customer queries we have received, we have provided the following information, which you may find useful. If this information does not answer your queries, please speak to your usual Zurich representative.

1. The relevant fire safety regulations* provides that your fire risk assessments of buildings should be reviewed and updated as required, and should include the following actions:

  • An understanding of and completion of outstanding actions
  • A review of fire evacuation and emergency plans to ensure that they are up to date. The maintenance of fire safety equipment and systems (i.e. through the use of a suitable checklist)
  • If you are a Zurich customer, you may also find it helpful to review any Risk Improvement Actions we have issued to you

(Please note: fire risk assessments should be carried out by a competent person with due consideration to their experience relative to the nature of risk, including any appropriate expertise and specialisms held. See question 8 for more information).

Specific guidance around fire risks assessment can be found in the Local Government Association guidance document – ‘Fire Safety in Purpose Built Blocks’ https://www.local.gov.uk/fire-safety-purpose-built-flats.

*Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005; Scotland – The Fire Safety (Scotland) Regulations 2006; Northern Ireland – The Fire Safety Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2010

2. All relevant findings or changes should be communicated to residents and other key stakeholders.

  • All resident actions and / or changes in responsibilities, actions or procedures should be communicated effectively with a confirmation that the communications have been understood.
  • Typically, your Local Authority, Fire Authority, Tenant Management Organisation or Landlord Managing Agent would be available to support these communications and should also be made aware of any findings.

3. Review your building, construction and materials

A. In accordance with government guidance customers should check existing buildings, including the testing of existing cladding systems.

B. Customers may find it helpful to compile a list of properties over 7 storeys high for additional focus.

C. Construction and refurbishment contracts should also be reviewed to establish the type of cladding systems used.

D. Any concerns around either the cladding systems or fire risk assessments should be raised with your local Fire Service and the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) to formulate guidance on future steps.

E. For all contracts and/or construction of this nature, please contact your usual Zurich representative who will be happy to provide support where required.

Q&A

Q1: How did Zurich respond to customers impacted by this event?

We proactively identified any customers that were in close proximity or who may have had a relationship to this tragic event, and we have reached out to them to offer our support. This included:

  • The appointment of specialist remediation companies to assist with debris and contamination clean up;
  • Engagement with our panel of alternative accommodation providers to understand what their capacity was in case our customers needed to call upon them;
  • The offer of media support and guidance; and
  • Access to specially trained counsellor services via our medical management unit.

We remain focused on flexing our responses according to the individual requirements of our customers.

Our major loss proposition centers on the following offering where it provides customer and community benefit:

  • The appointment of a mobile team of experts from day one,
  • Early determination of policy coverage,
  • Clear communication strategies,
  • Site visibility,
  • Consideration of broader community implications and individuals’ needs,
  • Provision of early interim payments where appropriate, and
  • Clearly signposted milestones and check points.

Subsequent to the initial, customer focused activity we have formed a cross-functional working group to provide a single focal point for all Grenfell related activities, both internal and external.

Q2: What involvement do you have in the Public Inquiry? What information have you been asked to provide?

We fully support the Public Inquiry and the Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety (the Hackitt Inquiry). We will interact with both inquiries in an open and transparent manner, providing relevant information and sharing our expertise where requested.

Q3: What are the types of composite panelling and cladding? And which ones are more acceptable and which are not?

There are many different types of composite panels and cladding available. As such this is an incredibly difficult topic to provide advice on without the full specifics as to the proposed use of a particular product, including where and how it is to be used.

The combustibility of insulation material, even when not part of a panel system, should be considered carefully. Insulation, and insulation within composite materials, can generally be regarded under the following ascending categories: Combustible, Fire Retardant, Approved Fire Retardant, Fire Resistant and Incombustible. Ultimately, within the context of the insurance services we provide, we require that the building materials used comply with the relevant Building Regulations and Standards applicable at the time of installation including the test criteria for their situation, location and the circumstance they are used in.

Any concerns around cladding systems and fire risk assessments should first be raised with the Fire Service and the DCLG. For any insurance related queries or further support required, please contact your usual Zurich representative who would be happy to provide support where required.

Q4: Are my properties and liabilities still covered, even if I have some buildings with similar cladding as Grenfell Tower and I do not make immediate changes?

We will not be withdrawing any existing cover for any customers. Zurich will continue to work with customers to use our expertise and risk insight to help you manage these exposures. We will also not be looking to change coverage for our existing customers at this point.

Q5: What information will you now need to provide me with cover? What will you do if you receive back information that causes you concern?

We will be requiring the usual information on location, the number of storeys, construction features of properties (particularly those that are non-standard), and risk management practices.

For non-standard risks, a full cross-section specification of the building wall should ideally be provided. Whilst it is possible to identify potential issues with specific components of a wall system, a full view can only really be formed when all components are viewed as a whole (for example a cladded wall may behave differently if it either has or does not have a void within it).

Within significant property portfolios it is only feasible for Zurich to survey a proportion of the properties over the term of the policy where there is a particular reason to do so.

Each case is considered and underwritten on its individual merits. However, as a general rule, Zurich will continue to work with customers to use our expertise and risk insight to support you in managing these exposures.

Q6: We have identified a block being high risk and are looking to vacate the occupiers whilst remedial works are conducted. Can I claim for my loss of rent/increased costs/alternative accommodation costs?

The DCLG has stated that in the case of the most serious risk, consideration must be given to moving all residents out of the block until satisfactory remedial work has been done.

Depending on the policy wording applicable to the customer, extensions to BI cover may on occasion be provided, which affords some indemnity in this scenario.

Even if your cover does not respond or is limited, we may still be able to help you by using our network to support you, for example putting you in contact with our partners for alternative accommodation.

Please refer any further questions you may have to your usual Zurich representative.

Q7: What is the availability of policy coverage for (a) the costs of repair and/or replacement of external cladding to high rise properties, and / or (b) the associated costs of decampment and rehousing of those tenants / leaseholders affected.

The repair and replacement of external cladding on Properties and the associated costs of the decampment of tenants and leaseholders, are not insured events under the Policy (please refer to your policy documentation for full details of cover, to confirm if there are any additional or non standard covers available to you).

These works are understood to be part of upgrading or maintaining the premises.

In terms of other Financial Loss cover (either under your Public Liability Policy or where you have elected to purchase an Officials Indemnity policy or Financial Loss extension for third party financial loss) there is no cover afforded under your policy, as the policy specifically excludes financial loss arising out of contract (i.e. your performance of the tenancy agreement or lease).

Should you require clarification on any specific circumstance, please contact your usual Zurich contact.

Q8: What is your position regarding the provision of cladding on an existing property?

We accept that there are many reasons to clad an existing building. However, it may consider it prudent to review the refurbishment contracts to establish the type of cladding systems being proposed, that the specifics of the property are considered and that an appropriate cladding system and components are used.

Any concerns around cladding systems and fire risk assessments should be raised with the Fire Service and the DCLG.

For all contracts and/or construction of this nature, please contact your usual Zurich representative who would be happy to provide support where required.

Q9: What information can you provide regarding sprinkler systems?

A. A number of organisations are considering the provision of sprinkler protection in High Rise Residential Accommodation. The following Q & A’s may offer some assistance to those considering the benefits of sprinkler protection:Are all sprinkler systems the same?

No, some are designed primarily for Life Safety and some for Property Protection.

B. Presumably systems designed for life safety are the better quality installations?

Zurich endorses systems that are capable of protecting both people and property. Life safety is paramount, but the disruption to lives and communities can be unfathomable until it happens.

C. So for a Zurich compliant system, what should I know?

Zurich typically recognizes sprinkler systems designed, installed, and maintained in accordance with LPC Rules for Automatic Sprinkler Installations Incorporating BS EN 12845. While this standard does not specifically address the use of residential sprinklers, their use in residential occupancies is acceptable to Zurich for property insurance purposes and may be also acceptable to any authority that has jurisdiction, such as Building Control or the Fire Authority.

D. If I only want to install a system for life safety only, where can I go for help?

Zurich does not specify, assess or approve sprinkler systems that are designed in accordance with ‘BS 9251:2005 Sprinkler systems for residential and domestic occupancies’, as we are not the ‘authority having jurisdiction’ for systems of this type. However a number of agencies can assist, including the local Fire & Rescue Service, your appointed Building Control provider, The Fire Protection Association and the British Automatic Fire Sprinkler Association.

Q10: Who is qualified for undertaking Fire Risk Assessments?

A competent person for Fire Risk Assessments is someone who is listed on a register of fire risk assessors operated by a professional body or certification body, or, preferably, by a company that is certificated by a third party certification body, which is, itself, accredited by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service to operate the certification scheme. Guidance on choosing a competent assessor can be found here: http://www.cfoa.org.uk/19532.

In selecting or appointing an assessor, due consideration should be given to their experience relative to the nature of risk, and any appropriate expertise and specialisms held by the assessors.

For more information speak to your usual Zurich contact.

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