Insuring Timber

Mass timber interior,­ MEC Headquarters
Photography: Ed White Photographics

Mass timber is rapidly becoming an alternative to concrete and steel construction for larger, complex structures. Building codes are evolving quickly to incorporate the unique possibilities these new systems offer and normalize this type of construction. However, builder’s risk insurance rates have not been evolving along with construction and codes. Why are the insurance rates higher for timber builds? There are several reasons for this, including:

  • Design and build teams are unprepared or unfamiliar with the needs of the insurance industry (i.e. comprehensive fire and safety plans)
  • Lack of education on different timber products
  • Limited insurance capacity (maximum liability that an insurance company is willing to assume) for timber construction in the market

The Canadian Wood Council (CWC) is working to address the difference in rates and develop new classifications to reflect the modern products that are used. This report is part of the work to provide additional resources to industry to further the understanding of mass timber products including safety and sustainability attributes as well as reduced risk to construction projects.

Insuring Timber: Breaking Down Barriers in the Advancement of Timber Construction

The innovation of timber products and complex framing systems allows for large, complex structures to be constructed with timber. This report is designed to lay out the facts for the insurance and the construction industry in consideration of setting rates for projects using mass timber.

Internal view of UBC Earth Sciences Building atrium demonstrating multi-storey timber construction techniques for higher-density urban environments
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Glue-laminated timber (Glulam) columns support the prefabricated wood frame ceiling in this interior view of the Skidegate Elementary School Gymnasium
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