It is not just combustible paneling that we ought to be worried about

As readers will be aware, not only have I been writing often about the issue of combustible paneling in high and low rise apartments, but also the importation of electrical cabling that does not meet Australian Standards and also building products that contains asbestos.

I have now learned through my son Steve, who is over in London at the moment meeting our major clients, that the same block of apartments that was the scene of the tragic fire this week, (Grenfell Towers) narrowly averted a major fire disaster in 2013 when residents experienced a period of severe power surges that were subsequently found to have been caused by faulty wiring.

It is disappointing to me that the insurance industry is not leading the fight to have these products banned from being imported into Australia and insisting that buildings that contain such materials remedy the ticking time bombs.

I am aware that experts approached the Insurance Council of Australia on the issue of the paneling after the Melbourne Docklands fire and their request to work together with the industry were dismissed. This, to me, is disappointing as I believe that our industry has an obligation to our communities to assist in loss mitigation both in loss of life and property. This of course results in fewer or lower value claims, which in turn is to the benefit of the industry as well as the insuring public.

It appears that only the Victorian Government is doing something positive on the issue of the below standard paneling and without government and/or the insurance industry as a whole addressing the issue seriously then I fear it will be left a ticking time bomb until we experience a serious event in this country.

From an insured’s point of view, as the importer, distributor and or installer there is a potential exposure that may, in the case of a product recall, not be insured.

From a developer or owners perspective, like insurance itself, cost should not be the primary criteria for choice. Please make sure any building materials used conform to or exceed Australian Standards. They are there to protect YOU.

Turning back to the issue of price, do you think the people who made the decision on the cladding are now rejoicing on the saving they made by using it. Similarly, will the various organisations that will be relying on their insurance program, whether this be property, product liability or professional indemnity will be considering the premium they paid. Of course not, they will be focused on the quality of the coverage, the extent of any policy exclusions and the claims service they are about to deal with.

Food for thought when reviewing your insurance program!

One response to “It is not just combustible paneling that we ought to be worried about”

  1. Alex Papadopoulos says:

    Aluminium Composite panelling has been a problem for a while and its not only the so called “cheap” products from China. The cladding panels at Glenfell were manufactured by Alcoa. All aluminium cladding should be removed. There is an alternative steel composite cladding that is fire-rated that is being developed in Sydney, using Colorbond steel by Bluescope. Looks just as good as Aluminium if not better and performs infinitely better.

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