Contractors could be in line for lower insurance premiums if they sign up for a passport scheme to be developed by construction industry trade bodies
The idea for the scheme emerged from a meeting this week between the Association of British Insurers and construction industry trade bodies, held to discuss the spiralling cost of employer's liability premiums.

Contractors would have to fulfil stringent criteria – to be developed by insurers – to obtain the discount. The criteria would then be replicated in trade bodies' own individual passport schemes.

An ABI spokesperson said: "The idea is for firms to make insurers aware that they are taking all possible steps to prove their competency; insurers are looking for firms to go further than just meeting any legal requirements."

National Federation of Builders chief executive Barry Stephens said progress towards the scheme had already been made, as the means had been established for insurers to objectively assess contractors' competency.

The insurers are getting closer to drawing up criteria for trade associations to follow

Barry Stephens, chief executive, National Federation of Builders

He said the NFB's scheme would be stringent and include on-site safety audits for firms, which would be linked to the existing vetting process known as the Construction Health and Safety Scheme.

He said: "The insurers are getting closer now to drawing up criteria for trade associations to follow. It is likely they will centre on health and safety competency."

National Specialist Contractors Council chief executive Suzannah Nichol said the ABI meeting was productive. She said the insurers had advised the construction industry to produce clear criteria for firms to fulfil.