The Steel Framing Alliance (Booth W7141) will be on hand at this week’s International Builders’ Show in Orlando, Fla. to discuss how home builders using steel framing are realizing significant reductions in their builders risk insurance premiums.
An innovative insurance program spearheaded by the alliance recognizes steel framing as superior construction, qualifying it for lower rates than combustible structural framing materials. About 1,500 policies have been written under this program since it commenced in October 2004.
The program is underwritten by Zurich’s North America Small Business and administered by Zurich Insurance Services, the largest provider of builders risk insurance products in the United States. The Steel Framing Alliance is a Washington, D.C.-based association engaged in enabling the widespread use of steel framing.
Builder risk insurance, also known as “course of construction” insurance, provides the building owner and contractor with coverage for loss and damage while the structure is being built. High loss rates have driven premium prices up, and a recent survey by NAHB found that the costs and availability of insurance are among the top concerns of home builders.
The program is the only insurance product on the market today that provides a consistent rating for conventional steel-frame construction, which typically includes plywood sheathing on floors, walls and roofs. The rate difference provides builders with a significant incentive for using steel framing by offering consistent classification of steel framing as “superior” construction.
“Steel framing offers many advantages, and this program gives builders one more reason to choose steel over alternative framing materials,” said Larry Williams, president of the Steel Framing Alliance.
Builders’ risk insurance advantages will play a large part in steel industry initiatives to rebuild the areas ravaged by last season’s hurricanes, according to the alliance, because steel is inherently termite-proof and resistant to mold.
Data collected by the NAHB Research Center show that the use of steel framing has been on the rise. Its market share in 2004 increased over 2003 levels, including some applications for which there were significant gains, the alliance reported. For instance, steel-framed interior walls in the multifamily segment rose 50% during that period; the use of steel in exterior walls grew about 30%.
Most users and manufacturers of steel framing in North America, and dozens throughout the world, are members of the Steel Framing Alliance. Membership in the alliance provides builders with a range of educational resources for learning how to frame with steel, increasing their knowledge base and training staff. In addition, it affords builders the resources of its engineering council, The Light Gauge Steel Engineers Association.
To get started in the builders risk program, builders must contact their local insurance agents, tell them they are members of the Steel Framing Alliance and ask the agents to look into the plan with Zurich.
“This program enables builders to grow their businesses,” said Williams. “They can show their customers they will save by switching from combustible structural framing materials to steel.”
The Steel Framing Alliance is a member of the National Council of the Housing Industry — The Supplier 100 of NAHB.
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