It will enable insurers to better understand the risks posed by flammable cladding on highrise buildings

Property data supplier WhenFresh has announced a project covering almost 500,000 high-rise properties in the UK.

It will enable insurers to better understand property risk across their policy portfolio, along with all the other data, such as flooding and subsidence.

Since the tragic Grenfell fire on 14 June 2017 and the ‘cladding crisis’ that has since developed, the owners, mortgage lenders, insurers, and developers of properties in tall Multi-Dwelling Units (MDUs) throughout the UK with some form of cladding have found themselves facing massive, unforeseen financial exposure.

Lenders, insurers, and institutional property investors have largely been ‘flying blind’ as they have not had the means to accurately assess their potential risk/exposure to this hugely significant issue.

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 simply wasn’t something that anyone considered. This is why until now little or no information about cladded buildings had been captured.

Big deal for insurers

The 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 (eg satellite imagery, drone footage, building and planning records.).

It was subsequently enhanced on an ongoing basis by physical surveys and other inputs, all meticulously scrutinised by a group of over 600 Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) qualified surveyors.

The dataset has now been launched to the wider market, providing property-level cladding data for each of the 485,234 properties within MDUs of 18 metres or more in height throughout the UK. 

WhenFresh co-founder and CEO Mark Cunningham said: “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.

“It is obviously a big deal for insurers too, as they can now better understand property risk across their existing policy portfolios and can access this cladding dataset, along with all the other data we make available via API, to drive more accurately priced, instant quotes for new insurance applications.”