Insurers will not be allowed to exclude fire safety claims on buildings of four storeys or less from next month

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has introduced new insurance terms which improve fire safety cover for professional indemnity insurance (PI).

The minimum policy wording and insurance rules, which came into effect at the beginning of the month, have been targeted to help chartered surveying firms hit by fire safety exclusions.

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The new rules came into effect last week

Under the new rules, from 1 May, insurers will not be allowed without specific exemption to exclude fire safety claims on properties four storeys or less.

Fire safety coverage must also be provided as a minimum on an aggregate, defence cost inclusive basis.

Since last year, insurers have imposed blanket fire safety exclusion terms on PI because of concerns following major fire safety failures, specifically for buildings which contain combustible cladding.

It has meant that chartered surveying firms have been left uninsured for fire safety exposure when providing assessments of buildings.

RICS senior policy specialist Hugh Garnett said: “In the past 18 months, we have seen increasingly stringent fire safety exclusions being placed on PI policies, reducing the protection for chartered surveying firms and the number of firms who have been able to offer professional advice on properties with fire safety issues.

“The change in minimum terms will provide a welcome relief to chartered surveyors who have been unable to obtain fire safety cover and will mean that firms renewing their PII policies from 1st May will have greater fire safety coverage.”

He added that the RICS is working with the government and other industry stakeholders to find practicable and affordable solutions for the profession for properties over four storeys.

The new rules follow guidance published by RICS last month aimed at restricting the need for house valuers to use EWS1 forms to assess the fire safety of housing blocks of four storeys or fewer.

It also meant that blocks without either cladding or vertically stacked balconies containing combustible materials should not require an EWS1 assessment.