ASPB develops mass timber insurance playbook

The Alliance for Sustainable Building Products has been awarded a grant from the Accelerator Fund from Built by Nature to create guidance for developers, investors and designers around the challenges of securing insurance for mass timber buildings.

Buildings with combustible structural elements and a sensitivity to water can radically alter a building’s risk profile, and challenge the fundamental principles and methods of insurance loss estimation both during construction and whilst in operation.

The Mass Timber Insurance Playbook provides guidance on how to secure an equitable insurance policy for both the construction and operation of mass timber buildings. Its aim is to support the increased use of mass timber in construction and the embodied carbon reduction it can enable, in a manner that maintains a level of building resilience.

The playbook uses well adopted resilience reasoning embedded within the RIBA framework to address the potential current imbalance between sustainability and resilience to fire and other insured perils including escape of water and flood.

Authors Dr James Glockling, Phil Callow and Simon Corbey, said: “It is uncommon for the provision of insurance to be such a barrier to introduction of a new building method but the use of combustible materials, like timber, as the main structural components of buildings that might be large and span many stories inevitably raises the anticipated potential scale of loss to fire and water exposure events.

“In association with the use of timber, newer methods of assembly can also introduce combustible voids between fire compartments, which, if breached, can allow fire to develop and spread out of view and out of influence of normal detection and suppression systems.

“Whilst example solutions to key issues are mentioned for guidance, the playbook is non-prescriptive, affording the designer all of the normal freedoms to resolve the identified issued by the most appropriate means that satisfies the needs of all stakeholders. Use of the MTIP cannot guarantee insurability but through improving the risk profile and early engagement with insurers every opportunity for a satisfactory outcome will be explored.”

Built by Nature is a network and grant-making organisation whose goal is to accelerate the timber building transformation in Europe with a view to reducing carbon emissions.

Co-funding for the playbook was provided by Marsh and Zurich.

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