Earth Notes: Home Insulation Works: Barriers to Installation (2023)

Updated 2024-04-02 17:16 GMT.
By Damon Hart-Davis.
Doing the right thing is hard, and insurers do not help! #insulation #netZero #futureReady
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What gets in the way when you decide to do the right thing as a landlord and insulate your tenants' homes?

(Email from Antonia I, lightly edited.)

Thinking I was being a good landlord, when the gutters and pebbledash on several of my properties, plus others I manage, needed changing, it seemed a good time to get the properties insulated in order to save the environment and my tenants from the high cost of using more energy than necessary. It was easier to have it fitted externally than internally because the tenants are in residence and I did not want to disrupt their lives too much.

My builder, who has fitted external insulation before, recommended a system which was top spec.

All went well and the system was fitted, but when I came to reinsure the properties my troubles began.

I provided full information of the type of insulation used and the suppliers reassured us that this complied with the necessary safety regulations. Despite this, my broker wrote saying: Just to confirm in regards to the insurance, we had the likes of Zurich, Aviva, NIG, Covea, Royal & Sun Alliance, AXA and QBE UK insurance, and all declined due to the external insulation due to the composition of the insulation. There was great insistence on calling the insulation 'cladding' with all the emotional overlay of Grenfell Tower. Furthermore, they appeared unable to distinguish that a two-storey home does not pose the same danger to residents as a multi-floored tower block.

As you can imagine this caused me a lot of distress being made to feel I had just done a terrible thing and rendered the properties uninsurable.

On further conversation with the insurance companies, they said I should have fitted external wall insulation to standard LPCB Approved. Interestingly, when my builder contacted LPCB they referred him to their UK accredited manufacturers called Unilin Insulation Ltd. Unilin Insulation Ltd, is the supplier of EWI Store who we purchased the system from, who act as the wholesaler.

Having spoken to Unilin, they advised that they no longer recognise LPCB as it has now been superseded and the insulation system should meet euro class B rating.

My [KR40 - 04: Silicone TC15 onto Brick – R7 & HP12] insulation system does comply with euro class B rating as the insulation is rendered over.

A fireman told me this would give a full one hour protection against external fire, which would allow the tenants plenty of time to vacate a small terraced property.

This clearly demonstrates that the insurance companies are out of date in their information — and it seems lucky I did not consult them first or I would have fitted insulation to an outdated regulation!

At a time when the Government is intending to introduce legislation to make Landlords insulate their properties as part of their net zero strategy, this lack of insurer awareness of what the standards are is quite shocking and will not lead to a successful roll out of the policy when it comes into force — projected to be in [2025].

In order to save other well-intentioned Landlords from going through the angst of all the refusals etc. that I have been put through, this issue needs flagging up with the policy makers and insurance companies to get their act together.

... the Insurance company who accepted this insulation and insured my properties was Vasek Insurance Services Ltd.

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