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The Ins and Outs of Sandwich (Composite) Panels

Sandwich panels, technically known as composite panels, have been a popular choice in building construction for years. They're lightweight, cost-effective, and offer sound insulation. But why are insurers so concerned about them?

What are Sandwich (Composite) Panels?

These panels are aptly named because they resemble a sandwich: two layers with an insulating substance in between, often looking like foam encased in metal. They're also sometimes referred to by brand names, like Kingspan.

The Benefits

  1. Lightweight

  2. Sound insulation

  3. User-friendly

  4. Easy to clean

  5. Cost-effective

  6. Widely used in the UK

The Concern: Combustibility

While sandwich panels offer numerous benefits, there's a catch. Panels, especially those made before 2000, might contain combustible materials like polystyrene or polyurethane. Even some panels made after 2000 could have combustible infill, though they're less common.

Why Insurers Care

  1. Disclosure is Key: The type of construction material used is vital information that should be shared with insurers. This ensures the insurance policy is appropriate and will cover claims effectively.

  2. Unknown Infill: The main issue with older panels is that their infill material is often unknown, making it hard to determine their combustibility level. This uncertainty can lead insurers to decline quotations for buildings with such panels.

  3. Safety First: Insurers prioritise the safety of building occupants. They prefer panels approved by the Loss Prevention Certification Board (LPCB), which meet combustibility regulations.

What You Can Do

  1. Know Your Panels: Before buying or leasing a building with composite panels, find out what type of panels are used and if they comply with LPCB regulations.

  2. Keep Records: For new constructions using panels, maintain a spec sheet detailing the panel materials. This will be invaluable for future insurance or property transactions.

  3. Consult Experts: Consider hiring a surveyor to identify the type of panels in a building. This ensures you're equipped with accurate information for insurers.

Final Thoughts

If you suspect your building has composite panels, always inform your insurance broker. This information is crucial for underwriting and ensuring your insurance is valid, especially if you ever need to make a claim. Remember, safety and transparency are paramount.


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