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PI crisis continues despite reform pledge, surveyors warn

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The Australian Institute of Building Surveyors (AIBS) says ministers have failed to address the immediate professional indemnity (PI) insurance crisis, focusing instead on long-term reform.

Despite “encouraging signs” on building regulation improvements at last week’s Building Ministers’ Forum in Sydney, AIBS CEO Brett Mace says “nothing arising from the meeting will give comfort to building surveyors and other industry professionals faced with unworkable PI insurance policies right now”.

The scale of combustible cladding and other defects on buildings across the country has forced insurers to walk away from, or introduce exclusions to, PI cover for surveyors and certifiers, sparking fears that the construction industry could grind to a halt.

In an indication of the severe impact the crisis is having on individuals and their wellbeing, Mr Mace gives details of depression and suicide prevention charities at the end of his statement.

“We know members are faced with huge increases in insurance premiums, massive increases in excesses, reduced cover and exclusions,” he said.

“At the same time, there is a steep increase in claims against building surveyors regardless of whether they are directly responsible or simply being joined in disputes and targeted because they hold insurance.

“This is not sustainable. If the insurance industry cannot guarantee some relief in the immediate future, then the outlook for the profession is grim and there is significant risk of severe impact to the industry.”

As previously reported by insuranceNEWS.com.au, the Insurance Council of Australia has warned that insurers will not be able to jump back into the market on the back of government promises.

The industry will need to first “see action, and see it having a real impact”.

“The ministers have taken a very big risk by only looking at the longer term and failing to address the current issues,” Mr Mace said.

“The ministers are now on notice and will have to stand accountable if the industry fails in the next 12 months.”