Canadian Underwriter

Information availability key to enhancing coverage in construction

November 14, 2016   by Angela Stelmakowich

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Having as much solid information as possible – as early as possible – can help open up the marketplace when it comes to available coverages for construction projects, Peter Campbell, Halifax branch manager for Jardine Lloyd Thompson Canada, suggested during an industry event in downtown Toronto last Thursday.

Concept of construction and design. “Any project or any risk really delving into the property and casualty insurance marketplace, the capacity available is really zero,” said Campbell, speaking as part of the technical review and risk allocation panel at the Toronto Risk and Insurance Education Forum.

“You can buy the capacity, but the only currency that you have to buy that capacity is information,” he said. “It’s the hardest currency; it’s the only currency to develop capacity in the marketplace.”

Additional information “allows for developing far broader coverage,” argued Campbell, who added he believes it is a misconception that if underwriters are provided too much information, they will “get nervous about risks.”

Being a historical business, “we’ve been involved in all the losses,” he told attendees.

”So, really and truly, to explain the full story, [using] as much documentation as is possible, you’ll have much better results from the marketplace and much better coverage,” he said.

“The only additional variable is the amount of time that you have to do that work,” Campbell added.

The property and casualty industry is “not like a trading floor,” Campbell said.

“There are people making decisions of risk acceptance and coverage, and these people have to perform analyses. So it’s really a lot less of a commodity than perhaps it was once perceived,” he told attendees.

From a contractor’s point of view, said Ren Lips, insurance risk manager for PCL Construction, “where we start is what information is available that the owner is providing us,” as well as looking at all of the associated conditions.

“You have to identify the probability of each factor, the result and impact,” Lips emphasized, and then “deal with that uncertainty in some way.”

There are underwriting tools available – including deductibles and wordings – “to make any risk insurable,” commented Paul Smith, CUO tech risks (global construction) for Starr Companies in the United Kingdom.

“But before we even go to that, we would go to the professionals to see what they’re doing first,” Smith said. “We do need information.”

More coverage of the Toronto Risk and Insurance Education Forum

Some increased risks developing in surety space, but these can be managed: panel