Roofers have been faced with a grotesque rise in their insurance premiums over the past two years. Here's how they've been fighting back
Permanent rises in the cost of specialist contractors' insurance last year brought the roofing industry to crisis point. Neither the National Federation of Roofing Contractors or the National Specialist Contractors Council, had, until then, achieved much in the corridors of power – and I for one had little experience of lobbying. But we had to campaign hard for the reform of the insurance industry to save our members from bankruptcy.

Working first with our members, we gave much-needed advice on reinsurance. We also established a scheme with the Electrical Contractors' Insurance Company to provide an alternative source of reliable cover.

We worked, too, with the Association of British Insurers and the British Insurance Brokers Association to demand an amendment to the 1969 Employers Liability Act and to strengthen the General Insurance Standards Council's code of practice. We warned contractors not to use brokers acting outside this code and also set out the health and safety standards that insurers might reasonably expect from our members.

On the political level, we asked the DTI to moderate insurance premium tax and to amend the 1969 act. We approached politicians of all parties to put pressure on the department. Many of our members wrote individually to their MPs to make them aware of the effect of this insurance crisis on businesses and jobs in their own constituencies.

Our successes to date include the launching of three government enquires into insurance, all of which are due to report back shortly. We have presented evidence to the all-party committees for taxation and insurance and had a number of meetings with opposition frontbench spokesmen. Once the reviews are published, we will use our parliamentary campaign to see that necessary reforms to the 1969 act and other recommendations are carried through.

Any success that we have had is due in large part to the NSCC and to the greater strength that we have found among our fellow trade associations. It has been very much a matter of persistence and will remain so until victory is achieved.