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Contractor insurance covers bad weather, says ruling

According to law firm Taylor Wessing, damage incurred by contractors during bad weather is covered by insurance.
The news will be welcome to contractors, especially through the recent spate of cold and windy weather.The claim stems from work carried out by Blackwell during construction of the M60 Motorway between 1998 and 2000. Earth moving works were damaged by heavy rainfall, and Blackwell lodged a claim with their insurer, Gerling.Gerling refused, saying the damage was inevitable, and alleging misconduct for not providing sufficient drainage. The courts decided that the damage was covered by Blackwell's CAR (construction all risk) policy, and that the rainfall was not 'exceptional or unforeseeable', and that Blackwell did not behave recklessly.Tom Wrzesien, from legal firm Taylor Wessing said, 'This decision will be a relief for many contractors. This case shows that damage resulting from ordinary bad weather may be covered by a CAR policy, provided of course that the damage was not itself 'inevitable'. Even if damage results from negligent design of temporary work, this may not prevent a claim, unless a contractor deliberately runs a known risk.'However, this should not be seen as leave for contractors to risk all to complete on time. The Court was clear that if Blackwell had known of the risk and deliberately run it, the claim would have been invalidated. This case highlights the danger, for employers and contractors alike, of taking risks to complete on time. If a project is in delay and the contractor asked to continue with works in risky conditions - pouring concrete in icy conditions, for instance - problems can arise,' he said.Gerling have applied to appeal against the decision.

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