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Finance Minister must urgently engage with insurance industry as professional indemnity crisis hits construction sector – Pearse Doherty TD

26 May, 2021 - by Pearse Doherty TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Finance Pearse Doherty TD has called on the Minister for Finance and Junior Minister with responsibility to immediately engage with the insurers and underwriters as the construction industry faces a professional indemnity crisis with engineers and architects unable to access insurance cover.

He warned this crisis is putting jobs and future construction and housing projects at risk.

Speaking today, Teachta Doherty said:

“Over the past year it has become increasingly difficult for engineers and architects in the construction sector to access professional indemnity insurance.

“In the past two years 15 underwriters have withdrawn from the Irish market, with construction firms seeing massive hikes in their premiums or an inability to access cover altogether.

“One fire safety engineering company has seen their premium rise from €2,500 to €65,000 within two years, with lower levels of cover provided.

“There are many reasons for this, but one is undoubtedly the fallout from the Grenfell Tower tragedy and concerns regarding fire safety and cladding.

“It is clear that many underwriters are making no distinction between fire safety exposure in Ireland compared to Britain.

“There is an urgent need for the Minister for Finance to immediately engage with the insurance industry and underwriters to identify and address concerns, and clarify the differences that exist in fire safety exposure between Britain and Ireland.

“In 2018, the Minister for Housing published the Fire Safety in Ireland – Report of Fire Safety Task Force Report.

“This Report found that ‘the conditions which appear to have contributed to  Grenfell Tower tragedy do not appear to be present in medium to high rise buildings in Ireland’.

“The Minister should clarify whether he has met with underwriters to discuss these issues in the past twelve months, and whether he has made known the findings of the Report from 2018.

“In the teeth of a housing crisis, the Government must work to ensure that no barriers exist to the construction of much needed affordable homes and infrastructure.”

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