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Master Plumbers Members – could your biggest risk be small print?

The most significant hidden danger facing plumbers currently might just be in your insurance policy wording.

What we’re seeing more and more from the insurance market is the exclusion of cover for work in buildings higher than two storeys. This is due to a large number of significant water damage claims in recent years (when we say significant, we’re talking hundreds of thousands of dollars of damage, even over $1 million).

What’s caused this risk?

There are two particular issues specific to this problem. One is burst flexi-piping causing water damage claims, and the other is where the crimping isn’t done correctly or as securely as what welding might have done. Obviously when you have a high rise, the bigger issues with a burst that occurs on the upper storeys impacts the levels below who then are making property damage claims against the plumber. Just this year, Suncorp (one of Australia’s largest home insurers) announced that burst flexi pipes now account for 1 in 10 water damage claims.

Then add to that, if you’re working in a commercial space, it’s not just home and contents claims, it’s loss of income, business interruption expenses, business relocation expenses and, probably the most significant claim we’ve heard of (seven figures) occurred in a building with highly sensitive and expensive government equipment (computer software, servers, etc) in the basement level – everything was fried due to the water damage.

Are you covered?

As a result of these kinds of damage claims, we’ve seen the market contract – a lot of insurers are pulling out of the space, premiums are going through the roof for plumbers. And what some insurers are doing, rather than increasing premiums as much as they probably should to cover the risk correctly, they’re now putting exclusions into the policy instead, stating that you won’t be covered for working at heights greater than two storeys.

Given the number of high rise buildings being constructed especially in NSW, there wouldn’t be too many plumbers that wouldn’t have some sort of exposure, from fixing a kitchen sink through to substantive renovations or construction of a new apartment block.

Is this a common occurrence?

Absolutely, unfortunately we’re aware of insurers using these exclusions to deny claims based on this exclusion and if it happened to you, it could leave your business significantly out of pocket.

How can you check if this is impacting your insurance cover?

Firstly, check your policy wording and your policy schedule to make sure you don’t currently have an exclusion around working at heights. If you’re trying to do that yourself, you can search your documents using ctrl+F for the keywords ‘heights’, ‘storeys’ etc. You should speak to your insurance company or your insurance broker to confirm whether or not you have those exclusions in your policy.
We’ve generally found that those using direct insurers are more likely to have the exclusion in the wording and not know about it. Most brokers should and would know about this and shouldn’t be putting forward any solution or offering to customers that has this kind of exclusion within the wording.

If you do have the exclusion in place, we’d recommend you speak to a broker immediately and get a policy that doesn’t carry the exclusion.

About The Partner

Need a hand?

MGA Trades is proud to partner with the Master Plumbers Association. If you’d like to speak to someone about your specific situation or get a quote, contact Andrew Faber on 0400 130 199 or andrew.faber@mga.com

Waive Broker Fees

Quote your MPA NSW Membership Number and MGA will waive broker fees for 1 year!

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