An inevitable step to BIM implementation?

Both the Latham Report of 1994 and the Egan Report of 1998 recognised, in different ways, the importance of proper integration and collaboration in the construction process.

The success of the government’s construction strategy, and in particular the mandate to implement Level 2 Building Information Modelling ("BIM") by 2016, largely centres around a more collaborative culture in the industry. The government’s more recent construction 2025 strategy further emphasises the move towards collaboration and partnership. However, it has been argued that the current insurance framework in the construction industry does not promote the necessary collaborative, blame-free culture to make fully implemented BIM a reality.

The current approach is to pass risk down the supply chain. This leaves it to those down the supply chain to cater for these risks by insuring the risks under their own insurance policies, such as professional indemnity, contractors all risks, latent defects and/or third party liability. These policies, by their nature of operation, can result in the parties taking adversarial positions to protect their positions in the event of an issue or problem in the project; this cautiously defensive attitude is aimed at avoiding any risk of invalidating their insurance cover for potential claims. There are exceptions to the traditional form of insurance and passing down of risk; for example, several large infrastructure projects, including Crossrail, are insured under a single owner-controlled policy.

The traditionally defensive position within the industry is however changing, in part encouraged and catalysed by the various government Construction Strategy initiatives (BIM being just one of them). To compliment these developments, a new approach to insurance is now being piloted, Integrated Project Insurance. This started from a proposal in November 2010 by the Specialist Engineering Alliance to the government. On 10 February 2012, the Cabinet Office announced a series of projects to pilot this new form of cover. The first planned to be the MOD’s new-build training rooms for the Royal Marines at Lympstone, near Exeter. If the pilot projects prove that integrated project insurance is viable and helps to cut costs and programme, the government may then seek to roll out such insurance models across the public sector. This is necessarily dependent on sufficient support and uptake of the insurance market, which will likely follow a review of the results of the pilot projects.