Factory Mutual And Underwriters’ Laboratories

14 – February 1972

These are two organizations with which CRCA members are coming into increasing contact.

Factory Mutual Fire Insurance Companies is an association of fire insurance companies in which the insurance underwritten is or can be pro-rated among the member companies.  The association has its own Engineering Division which, as required, sets standards of construction, checks plans and specifications, conducts inspections and sets adjustments.  Roofing contractors encounter Factory Mutual most frequently in the fire resistant and wind uplift requirements set by the Engineering Division for roof construction over steel decks.  The insurance rate to be paid by the building owner is governed by these requirements.

Underwriters’ Laboratories of Canada is an independent non-profit service organization sponsored by the member companies of the Canadian Underwriters’ Association.  It is entirely separate from, but naturally works with Underwriters’ Laboratories Inc., a United States organization sponsored by the American Insurance Association.  It is interested in safety as it relates to life, fire and casualty hazards.  Roofing contractors encounter Underwriters’ Laboratories most frequently in fire resistant requirements and infrequently in connection with wind uplift.

A simplified version of the relationship between Factory Mutual and Underwriters’ Laboratories could probably be defined as follows:

Factory Mutual Engineering is financed by the association of fire insurance companies. Underwriters’ Laboratories of Canada is self supporting, revenue for its operations being derived from contributing manufacturers and others who submit products for examination.

Factory Mutual Engineering sets the requirements to obtain insurance from Factory Mutual member companies.  Underwriters’ Laboratories sets the requirements of products and construction for the Canadian Underwriters’ Association.  Whereas Factory Mutual Engineering carries out limited inspection in the field, Underwriters’ Laboratories of Canada, in general, does not, although it does conduct examinations of listed products at the manufacturer’s plant under a regular follow-up program.  Factory Mutual also visits plants but not on the basis of regular programs.

Factory Mutual Engineering provides an approval on an annual basis and the manufacturer involved pays annually.  Underwriters’ Laboratories of Canada provides a factory follow up inspection program on all labelled products with a service charge being applied for labels used.

Both organizations test products and systems using these products.  Both have up-to-date testing facilities.  Both have approved systems which means that there is some degree of overlapping. Both publish handbooks listing approved products and systems.

In many ways Factory Mutual and Underwriters’ laboratories are competitors, but idealistically, they complement each other.

The insurance classification that will govern the roof construction to be used is primarily the decision of the building owners or their representatives after consideration of all the factors involved.  In rare cases only, such as total hazard over very large areas, will the insurance underwriters recommend the highest rated construction.