eAIRMIC food and distribution forum chairman, Derek Mason, and Jacob Schlawitz, an insurance manager, have combined forces to help companies in the food industry improve their risk management and acqu

A new consultancy company, Industry Specific UnderWriting Agency (ISUWA), offers a combination of insurance market capacity, risk engineering, risk management, captives and other financial solutions.

Food manufacturing and distribution companies had found themselves facing increases of 100% or more for their property insurance premiums because of insurers' concerns over the industry's fire record, especially related to the widespread use of sandwich or composite insulating panels.

ISUWA's service is based on the Fire Risk Minimisation Guidance launched in 2003 to provide best practice for the food industry. Published by the Food Industry Panels Group, the guidance is supported by AIRMIC and endorsed by the Fire Protection Association (FPA), which gives it the status of an insurance industry standard.

Accreditation is open to companies in the food manufacturing and distribution sector that comply with the guidance. However, applications will also be accepted from firms that can demonstrate a large measure of compliance and an intention to move to full adoption in the near future. Those that do not meet this standard can buy consultancy from ISUWA on how to adopt the guidance with a view to accreditation once they qualify.

AIRMIC executive director David Gamble welcomes the move. "ISUWA is a natural development of the Fire Risk Minimisation Guidance, which we have been championing for more than a year. This is a useful template for dealing with risks with which the insurance market is uncomfortable."


According to Kevin Goodwin, chairman of AIRMIC's construction industry special interest group, the exclusion of asbestos from the public liability policies of all but specialist licensed contractors may leave business premises owners and managers having to comply with the new Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 2002 without public liability insurance.

The regulations, which come into effect on 21 May, require anyone who is responsible for the maintenance or repair of non-domestic premises to identify, record and manage any asbestos that may be present. Goodwin explains that the number of licensed contractors is limited, and even for them the insurance position is precarious, as there is only one scheme with which they can insure asbestos related public liability claims. For other contractors, some of the blanket exclusions for non-health related claims have been removed, but there is no market agreement or standard wording.

Goodwin took part in a seminar organised by the Association of British Insurers (ABI) to discuss the implications. Following the seminar, the ABI said it would look at the scope of cover available for non-licensed contractors. It also wants to raise awareness of the Control of Asbestos Regulations among commercial policyholders.


NICK CHOWN WRITES - The private-public sector initiative set up by AIRMIC, the public sector risk management association ALARM, and the Institute of Risk Management (IRM) has held its initial meeting and plans to meet quarterly in future.

Bob Cope from ALARM, Steve Fowler from IRM and I agreed that we should:

- set up a joint steering group to define a long term strategy for the risk management standard, and to develop professional opportunities in a cross-organisational manner

- look at the scope for working more closely on educational initiatives.

All three organisations are developing educational projects, and we want to do so in a co-ordinated manner.

AIRMIC members may be interested to note that the Accounts and Audit Regulations 2003 require local authorities to have a 'sound system of internal control and risk management' relating to the full spectrum of risk, not just financial risk.


Manchester's International Convention Centre is again the venue for AIRMIC's annual conference, which is taking place this year on June 14-16. This year's theme is 'Setting New Standards'.

The keynote speakers are:

- Frances Cairncross, management editor of The Economist; Dr Timothy Walker, director general of the Health and Safety Executive; Sir Ranulph Fiennes, explorer

- Five eminent speakers from the international insurance market will take part in a forum: 'Less cover, less security, less continuity and growing claims disputes: why should policyholders have any confidence in the current insurance market?' They are: Dennis Mahoney, chairman and CEO of Aon Ltd; Ken Davey, senior vice president, FM Global; David McCallum, director of risk solutions and specialist businesses, Royal & Sun Alliance, UK Commercial; Clive Tobin, CEO of XL Insurance Global Risk; Martin South, CEO, Zurich London

- After the success of training sessions in 2003, AIRMIC has invited three services providers to offer intensive three hours courses on a key aspect of professional development.The subjects are:

- Knowledge management for risk managers

- Creative management and structured problem solving techniques

- Day to day problems of corporate governance.