All businesses face risks and heating engineers are no different.
There’s the potential for loss of tools, equipment, materials and other property due to accidental damage or theft. There’s also the risk that an employee or member of the public could be injured or their property could be damaged as a result of a heating engineer’s activities. They might not be able to earn if they can’t work due to an injury or an illness. And they could face a large legal bill if legal action is taken against them.
However, due to the fact that heating engineers often use heat as part of their work, the potential to start fires accidentally is increased, and accidental fires can lead to substantial public liability insurance claims. Those working in this trade require heating engineer insurance.
How insurers deal with heat use
Because heat use can lead to substantial insurance claims, insurers either exclude cover for claims arising out of heat use, or include cover for it but charge an appropriate additional premium to reflect the increased risk.
If you don’t use heat in your work, you can save money on your insurance premiums by accepting the heat use exclusion. If your work does involve the application of heat, though, it’s important to make sure that your insurance policy doesn’t include a heat use exclusion so you’re fully protected.
When an insurer agrees to remove the heat use exclusion, it will generally be replaced with heat use conditions. It is important that you comply with these because otherwise, your cover may not apply in the event of a claim.
What are heat use conditions?
The heat use conditions set out the basic precautions you should take to minimise the risk of an accidental fire starting, or of it getting out of hand if one is started. They include:
- making sure that any combustible materials are either removed from the area or covered with non-combustible materials
- making sure that suitable fire extinguishing equipment is available
- only lighting a blowtorch when it is in use and putting it out as soon as it is no longer needed
- never leaving a lit blowtorch unattended
- only refilling a blowtorch in the open
- checking the other side of walls, floors, ceilings, and other partitions when heating metal that is built into them to ensure there is nothing combustible on the other side that could catch fire due to conducted heat
- checking the work site 30 and 60 minutes after the heat use has finished
Selecting an indemnity limit
No matter what business you are in, there’s the potential to cause an accident that leads to a public liability insurance claim that is expensive to settle. A serious injury could well result in a compensation award in excess of £250,000 with legal costs and other expenses on top of that.
Due to the heat use and its potential for causing accidental fires, though, the chance of a heating engineer causing major property damage is higher than for many other trades. A fire in a residential building could end up being extremely costly, particularly if it was in a block of flats or a terrace where the fire spread to neighbouring properties. A fire in a commercial premises could also result in a substantial claim, particularly if the claim included loss of revenue as well as the damage.
The public liability insurance indemnity limit is the maximum amount the insurer will pay in the event of a claim. The minimum limit is £1,000,000, although you can pay an additional premium to increase the limit. If you are using heat on expensive properties, it’s worth considering increasing the indemnity limit appropriately. See our optional cover page on professional indemnity insurance.