Resolving the months-long professional indemnity (PI) insurance crisis in the construction sector is set to dominate the agenda at the upcoming Building Ministers’ Forum (BMF) on Friday in Canberra.
A PI options paper, which is expected to include alternative insurance options, will be a “key point of discussion” at the meeting, a spokesman for the Federal Government’s Department of Industry, Innovation and Science told insuranceNEWS.com.au today.
At the last forum in July, Queensland and NSW were tasked with preparing the PI paper, a process that involves seeking inputs from the insurance industry and other stakeholders.
The ministers also agreed to take up all 24 recommendations made in the Building Confidence report by Peter Shergold and Bronwyn Weir.
“I will again be encouraging the states and territories to address issues within the building and construction sector in a nationally consistent way,” Industry, Innovation and Science Minister Karen Andrews says in a statement to insuranceNEWS.com.au.
“Queensland and NSW have been leading work on possible longer-term solutions to PI insurance, and this will be considered as a priority at Friday’s Building Ministers’ Forum.
“One of the most important steps toward resolving issues around PI insurance is restoring confidence in the sector. That’s why it’s so important the states and territories continue to work to implement the recommendations of the Building Confidence report in a nationally consistent way.”
Building industry sources say the PI crisis has worsened since July, when insurers stopped providing exemption-free PI covers to surveyors and other building practitioners.
Verbal promises alone by Ms Andrews and her state counterparts to address the cladding problem and other issues plaguing the building industry will not resolve the impasse.
Australian Institute of Building Surveyors CEO Brett Mace told insuranceNEWS.com.au he wants “an agreed position by all the ministers to addressing cladding rectification and the immediate issue with PI insurance”.
“We have been corresponding directly with ministers alerting them to the deteriorating situation,” he said.
“Our experience with our previous correspondence with Minister Andrews and her responses only reinforces our fears that she is out of touch with the issue or is seeking to ignore it.”
The Insurance Council of Australia says there must be “a national approach to the remediation of buildings with existing flammable cladding”.
“Property owners and the construction industry need certainty regarding what remediation solutions are acceptable before they can make decisions to invest in corrective actions which in many cases will be at an exorbitant cost,” Head of Risk and Operations Karl Sullivan told insuranceNEWS.com.au.