The risks associated with the use of EPS panels in cold storage or transportation are not new, but businesses with facilities featuring these panels continue to find obtaining cost-effective insurance difficult.
However, by understanding the issues and ensuring good risk management procedures are in place, it is possible to achieve a better outcome.
What are EPS panels and where are they found?
EPS panels usually consist of an expanded foam or polystyrene core that sits between sheets of aluminium or steel. They provide excellent temperature control, making them ideal for use in food storage and agricultural facilities.
EPS (short for expanded polystyrene) is the name used to refer to these types of panels, even though they don’t all feature polystyrene cores and are sold under a number of different brand names.
Why are EPS panels risky?
The insulation at the core of these panels is highly flammable, and the way the panels are constructed means that if a fire begins, it can spread through the core quickly, compromising the structural integrity of the facility. This means firefighters can’t always gain access to fight EPS panel fires, something that has contributed to several large total losses worldwide.
Any kind of electrical work or hot work around EPS panels can increase the risk of them catching fire, as can any damage to the exterior of the panels that exposes the core.
What can you do as an insured?
If you have a facility that features EPS panels, it’s important that you know the specification of the panels used as insurers will want this information. An expert in panel identification can help with this if you are not sure.
If, at any point, a business is considering replacing its existing EPS panels, investing in the latest technology may be more costly but could save money when it comes to insurance. The construction of EPS panels has improved over time, and some newer panels are now ‘insurer approved’. However, it’s best to check with a risk management expert, your broker or insurer about exactly which panels these are to avoid a costly mistake.
Having good risk management controls in place when it comes to the maintenance of EPS panels is also important, as are regular inspections to check their condition and immediately addressing any damage.
Understandably, insurers are wary of EPS panels, so the more risk management you can demonstrate, the better. They may require a risk survey or thermal imaging to check for existing damage or wear and if any issues are identified, these will need to be addressed.
But while these things may cost money, in the long run they could save your business both in terms of its insurance premiums, and in avoiding the inconvenience of a major loss.
Here to help
Gow-Gates is one of Australia’s leading independent insurance brokers. Our deep industry knowledge, coupled with our insurer relationships, enables us to deliver tailored insurance and risk management solutions for agricultural, food and beverage businesses.
For more information about the risks of EPS panels, you can contact us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling
02 8267 9999.
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