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Claims, Public Realm Design and Maintenance Conference,8th November 2019

From left to right: Padraig Kelly, Executive Architect, Mayo County Council; Edward Meaney, Client Development Manager, IPB Insurance; Tom Casey, Chartered Engineer, Transport Infrastructure Ireland; Tom Rowan, Managing Director, Rowan Engineers; David Malone, Member & Client Relations Manager, IPB Insurance; Ellen O’Carroll, Member & Client Relations Executive, IPB Insurance; Ivor Heavey, Risk Advisor, IPB Insurance; Michael Garvey, Chief Executive Officer, IPB Insurance; Brian Burke, Senior Executive Engineer, RMO; Tom Enright, Chief Executive, Wexford County Council

IPB Insurance hosted a conference entitled ‘Claims, Public Realm Design and Maintenance’ in Athlone on Friday 8th November. The conference aimed update our Local Authority Members on the impressive work being carried across the country to manage and reduce public liability claims in public realm spaces. It also served to provide a platform to discuss challenges and opportunities as well as share information.


The event was attended by senior local authority managers, insurance officers, road and infrastructure engineers, architects and technicians with responsibility for designing and maintaining public spaces. David Malone, Member & Client Relations Manager, IPB Insurance, and Edward Meaney, Client Development Manager, IPB Insurance, co-chaired the conference.


Tom Enright (Chief Executive, Wexford County Council) welcomed delegates and provided an overview of the conference. It was an all-day event comprising three sessions. The morning session consisted of short informative presentations from experts. Michael Garvey, Chief Executive Officer, IPB Insurance, opened the conference and advised our Members that IPB has seen a reduction in personal injury claims notified in 2019 and referred to the multifaceted approach adopted by IPB to combat public liability (PL) claims. Michael spoke of the excellent work carried out by our special investigation unit (SIU) and the claims department and remarked that IPB has referred 40 files to the Gardaí for fraud investigation. He referenced the Local Loss Adjuster (LLA) process and the reduction by 100 days on average, for report turn-around times.


Ellen O’Carroll, Member & Client Relations Executive, IPB Insurance, spoke about insurance statistics and the benefits of mapping and visually displaying claims data. She provided attendees with an overview of public liability claims and said that we are starting to see a reduction in the frequency of PL notifications. Padraig Kelly, an Executive Architect with Mayo County Council, spoke about designing public realm spaces and provided an overview of recent changes to the Design Manual for Urban Roads and Streets (DMURS). He explained that four new advice notes have been added to it and mentioned the benefits of advice note two “materials and specifications”, and that the manual now references slip resistance values.


After a short coffee break, the attendees listened to three speakers each of whom spoke on a different aspect of risk remediation. Tom Casey, Chartered Engineer, Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), outlined a simple five-step project management process for public realm projects and referred several times to the importance of good design and record retention. Brian Burke, Senior Executive Engineer, Road Management Office (RMO – shared service), provided an update on the Footways app and referenced the support that IPB has provided and spoke about the value of having footpath and road opening licence data when managing PL claims. Tom Rowan, CEO, Rowan Engineering Consultants, gave an informative talk on a recent project that Rowans have initiated with Trinity College. Tom provided an overview of the councils where he has already conducted research and presented a few public realm case studies. At the end of the session, the speakers answered delegates’ questions in a panel-style Q&A session.


Maura Ni Domhnaill, South Dublin County Council (SDCC) Parks Department, described the tree management procedure that SDCC has adopted and explained the value that trees have in our community. She referred to SDCC having 60,000 trees to manage and Maura spoke of the asset management tool “Arbortrack” that SDCC utilises to plan and record work done.


Ivor Heavey, Risk Advisor, IPB Insurance, utilised two Limerick City and County Council case studies and spoke of the importance of claims mapping and data retention to enable IPB to defend PL claims. A good debate ensued on the slip resistance of natural stone surfaces and a case study in Limerick city centre referenced a street that was remediated by replacing limestone with a composite type paver. The use of apps to log or store data and addressing freedom of information (FOI) requests was also discussed. Several questions were answered, and some architects spoke about the prevalent of PL claims and the challenge that they pose to the design of public realm spaces.


Ivor provided the closing address and thanked guest speakers, his colleagues including those from IPB’s claims and underwriting departments who attended the event, and especially to Members for travelling and actively taking part in the event. The conference proved to be a great success with over 125 delegates attending. The feedback was very positive and Members will continue to keep each other informed on developments and new initiatives in this area.