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26 SEP 2022

New government-backed PII scheme for surveyors conducting EWS1 forms

The Government is stepping in to provide a state-backed insurance scheme which is intended to give EWS1 assessors the confidence they need to conduct proportionate EWS1 surveys. The PII scheme, launched on 26 September 2022, will run for five years and be available across the UK. Policies can be purchased and further scheme details can be found here.

The EWS1 form allows a building owner to confirm to valuers and lenders that an external wall system (EWS) or attachments such as a balcony, on residential buildings 11m+ has been assessed by a suitable expert for likelihood of proportionate remediation to address fire safety risk.

The form has been developed by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), UK Finance and the Building Societies Association.

The form was created to ensure external walls of residential buildings can be assessed to determine whether remediation is required to allow lenders to offer mortgages. It is not a government or regulatory requirement, nor a life safety certificate and it should not be taken as confirmation that other works relating to fire safety in other parts of the building are not required.

It is essential that buildings must continue to be made safe while focussing relentlessly on making sure our approach is risk-driven, proportionate and delivered more quickly. We have published guidance for valuers to help decide if a building needs an EWS1 form. Not every building will require an EWS1 and there should always be a clear rationale to justify the request for one.

Are you eligible?                                                    

To access the scheme, you will need to be on the eligibility register held by either the Institution of Fire Engineers (IFE) or RICS. IFE and RICS will have their own guidance and will be able to advise you on eligibility based on your qualifications, knowledge and experience.

For RICS members they will need to have completed and passed the RICS External Wall Systems Assessment Training Programme. More details can be found on the RICS website here.

Key facts

Policies

  • Policies are taken out per building and cover any claim that could arise from an EWS1 assessment (subject to any limitation period). You will not need to renew the policy on a yearly basis.
  • Policy limits, premiums and coverage are determined by building height.
  • Premiums must be paid within 60 days of the cover being purchased. Assessors are covered from the date the policy is issued. If the premium is not paid within this time the Insurer has the right to cancel this policy by notifying the policyholder in writing. 
  • The insurer will provide a minimum of 30 days’ notice of its intent to cancel. If the premium is paid in full before the notice period expires the cancellation notice shall be revoked, if not, the policy can be automatically deemed to have been terminated from inception.
  • Firms can purchase policies. Additional insureds can be added to the policy.

Coverage

  • The policy for this scheme is provided on a ‘project’ basis. Once incepted, the policy will respond to a claim resulting from the EWS1 whenever it is made (subject to the validity of the EWS1 form, policy limits, and any limitation period that may apply). For example, if an EWS1 survey was conducted this year and was found to be incorrect in six years’ time, this policy would respond to that claim.
  • The policy covers for:
    • Civil liability for claims arising from the assessment.
    • Ombudsman’s awards in relation to the survey.
    • Defence costs against civil prosecution in relation to a covered claim.
    • Legal representation costs at civil legal proceedings in connection with a covered claim.

Conditions

  • Whilst the policy includes all the general conditions that would be expected from a professional indemnity policy, it also includes some specific conditions:
    • Assessment Standards - The survey must be undertaken to the following standards:
      • The top storey is more than 11m above ground level - as calculated in accordance with the Building Regulations 2010 (Approved Document B).
      • The BSI PAS 9980, and all other applicable laws, regulations, professional guidance notes and industry codes of practice. 
    • Public liability insurance 
      • The insured must maintain public liability insurance covering the work undertaken as part of the survey with a limit of at least £1m every occurrence.

 

To find out more about RICS and fire safety, please visit our fire safety information centre on the website.