WhenFresh partners with RICS on cladding data

Insurtech WhenFresh has developed a new cladding dataset aimed at helping insurers to better understand property risk across their policy portfolio, along with all the other data available via API, to drive more accurately priced, instant quotes for new insurance applications.

Since the Grenfell fire in June 2017 and the ‘cladding crisis’ that has since developed, the owners, mortgage lenders, insurers, and developers of properties in tall multi-dwelling units with some form of cladding have found themselves facing substantial unforeseen financial exposure.

Key property risk factors, such as flood and subsidence, have routinely been assessed when deciding whether to offer mortgages or how to price insurance premiums. However, prior to June 2017, cladding was not factored in to such decisions, so little or no information about cladded buildings had previously been captured.

WhenFresh’s cladding dataset is the result of a major project started in 2020. It initially involved a wide range of remote inspection tools and data sources, including satellite imagery, drone footage, building and planning records. This was subsequently enhanced on an ongoing basis by physical surveys and other inputs, all scrutinised by a group of over 600 Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors qualified surveyors.

Following six months of in-market testing with a group of existing clients, WhenFresh has launched the dataset to the wider market, providing property-level cladding data for each of the 485,234 properties within MDUs of 18m or more in height throughout the UK.

The data categorises properties based on the presence and specification of any cladding present. Mark Cunningham, WhenFresh co-founder and CEO, said: “We’re delighted to be able to bring this cladding dataset to market alongside our existing property data assets, not least as it provides key risk insights into these 485,234 properties which are jointly worth in excess of £50bn. There are obvious applications for mortgage lenders and insurers of course, but we’re already seeing interest from local authorities, central government, housing associations, asset managers, and other sectors too.”

“This new dataset provides lenders with the means to fully understand how their mortgage books are affected by cladding issues, down to individual property level, so they can identify where risks lie and make better decisions moving forward. New mortgage applications can also be pre-screened against this cladding dataset, and it has now become a key component of our WRAP service, where a wide range of data variables are applied to packages of mortgages being prepared for securitisation, to give surety to the buy-side.”

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