Coverzones Reveal 92 Per Cent of Gas-Fitters are not Covered for Professional Mistakes

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Coverzones data shows UK plumbers are liable to damage claims by waiving professional indemnity.

92 per cent of people working in the gas-fitting industry are not covered for damage to customer's property as a result of their work or the advice that they give, according to data from Coverzones, the business insurance comparison and policy management site, which has analysed a sample of 4,500 requests for insurance quotes.

Few gas fitters are covered for the advice they give.
According to the 2009 Plumbing and Heating Insurance Report, only four per cent of gas fitters have looked into professional indemnity insurance, and only a further four per cent have looked into an insurance package that would likely include this type of insurance. This comes just days after the HSE released information that some 20,000 illegal gasfitters are operating in the UK, and advising registered fitters to purchase PI insurance to reassure homeowners of their professionalism. However gas fitters are not alone in their lack of cover. The research showed that all of the trades had very little appetite for this sort of insurance. Central heating installers showed the most interest out of any trade; however that figure was just nine per cent. While Gas Safe registration is mandatory for gas fitters, there are no compulsory insurance requirements for people working in the industry.

Simon Ball, CEO of Coverzones commented: "There is a clear need for greater guidelines on insurance for people working in the plumbing and heating industry. Imagine a situation where someone installing a new boiler broke a gas or water pipe, which caused severe damage to a home or worse. The fitter involved could face a serious expense, even bankruptcy, when dealing with the resulting litigation. It should be made clear to these tradesmen that their business faces many risks which can be mitigated with the appropriate level of cover. Although plumbers may be facing a trying time with the current economy, cutting cover is a false economy and could result in claims which could be crippling for a business."

Plumbing and heating engineers most covered for public injury
Public Liability insurance protects tradesmen from accidental injury or damage which their work may cause to members of the public. Those working in the plumbing and heating industry do appear to understand the importance of having this type of cover. Bathroom and kitchen installers are demonstrably the most aware with 91 per cent of enquiries coming from these tradesmen. This was the greatest demand shown out of all the professions, with plumbing and heating engineers following with 71 per cent, then gas fitters (70%) and plumbers (62%).

Alarmingly, six per cent of plumbing and heating contractors did not look into any form of public liability cover at all. While contractors may assume that they are covered for public liability from their employer's insurance policy, this may not be the case. While it is true that their employer will need Employer's Liability Insurance, this does not provide cover for their work with the public.

Ball commented: "Plumbing and heating often involves working with chemicals, welding materials and other potentially harmful materials so public liability is a crucial insurance to protect the public and employees. It seems that without the guidance of a trade body providing insurance guidelines, beyond the legal requirements, many contractors and employers suffer from a lack of understanding in terms of necessary cover for temporary or project-based staff. Clearer guidelines from professional bodies are essential to ensure that in this increasingly litigious time, our small businesses are not at risk."

Tradesmen not covered for theft of tools or time off from illness
The research from Coverzones shows that tradesmen in the plumbing and heating industry have little interest in combined insurance packages. These types of packages often encompass the essential covers as well as providing protection for risks such as damage to or loss of tools and business contents cover.

Out of all the trades researched, plumbers showed the greatest interest in a tradesmen insurance package (29%) suggesting that they are the most savvy of all the professions in this trade when it comes to understanding the full range of risks facing their business.


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Steve Sherlock
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