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A briefing note from insurance broker Griffith & Armour likens toxic mould with a terrorist attack, writes Austin Williams . It states that 'while some might regard the reaction as premature, the industry is moving swiftly to exclude toxic mould cover in its entirety'.

By relying on the runaway risk-averse compensation cover of US legislative practice which is rapidly infecting UK practice, rather than on any scientific appraisal of the actual risk, they have produced a specimen policy exclusion clause which reads, inter alia : 'This insurance does not apply to: (a) any material product, building component, building or structure that contains, harbours or nurtures or acts as a medium for any fifungus(i)flor fispore(s)fl to the extent that it results in causes or contributes to such injury or damage; and (b) any supervision instructions, recommendations, warnings or advice given or which should have been given etc, etc.'

Withdrawing insurance cover until declarations are obtained from the design team in accordance with (a) above shifts liability, but fortunately, in real heath-risk terms, it is a minimal liability.However, in an increasingly claims-aware world, flagging up issues like this will inevitably have a tendency to aggravate the trend, until, that is, common sense prevails.

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