The ABI has released its long-awaited guidance paper on composite panels.

The document, Fire performance of sandwich panel systems has been designed to help insurers understand the features and use of composite panels, and the way risk management can be used to minimise the risk they pose in the event of a fire.

Composite panels are a type of building cladding that contains a metal skin and insulated core. Manufacturers, particularly those in the food sector, have had trouble finding insurance cover for sites that contain composite panels, as some types of core materials are particularly combustible.

The guidance document, which was launched at an ABI seminar for insurers last week, takes a risk-based approach to the insurability of composite panels.

"As with other types of risks, buildings containing sandwich panel systems should be considered on their own merits by underwriters and risk managers, taking account of application, choice of sandwich panel system and fire risk management measures in place," the document said.

Mark Harris, fire engineering services director at panel manufacturer Kingspan, described the risk-based approach as "excellent".

The ABI will hold another seminar this month for panel manufacturers.