Allianz Cornhill also warns self-insureds on business interruption

Premiums in the engineering insurance sector are softening, according to Allianz Cornhill Engineering.

Allianz Cornhill Engineering business manager Phil Godwin said: "There are signs the market is becoming less hard."

He said another concern was the increasing number of engineering businesses looking to self-insure for business interruption.

This type of cover had generated Allianz Cornhill Engineering's two largest claims, at more then £250,000 each, this year.

"[Business interruption insurance] is very, very misunderstood and there ought to be a lot more attention paid by both clients and brokers," Godwin said.

Theft-related claims are also a problem in the engineering insurance sector with theft of contractor's plant equipment accounting for 50% of all Allianz Cornhill Engineering's claims over £10,000.

Underwriting and operations manager Martin Ball said the company was now working with equipment register firm Thiefbeaters to try to reduce theft-related claims.

"It's early days and we've not seen the impact there yet," Ball said.

Much of this equipment is stolen to order, and Ball said there was a thriving black market for smaller items in the UK and for larger machinery, such as motorway equipment, mobile cranes, dump trucks and excavators in North Africa.

Allianz Cornhill Engineering also plans to employ specialist risk surveyors to survey insurance risks for its business interruption and material damage covers.

Ball said the division would appoint two risk surveyors this week, with backgrounds in both engineering and underwriting, to start work in August or September.

He said the number of risk surveyors could increase in future. Historically, engineering insurers have used traditional underwriters, rather than sector specialists to survey insurance risk.

The new appointments come in addition to recent underwriting appointments.

Allianz Cornhill Engineering has doubled its underwriting team in the past year to 13 head office-based underwriters and around 30 field-based underwriters.