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Insurers flooded by escape of water claims

Published 7th September, 2012 by Neil Nixon

Insurers flooded by escape of water claims

Water escaping from burst pipes or leaking taps is the most common commercial property claim, at 36%, according to new research by damage restoration experts, ServiceMaster Clean.

Fires are the second highest cause of property destruction at 24%, closely followed by flooding from heavy rainfall at 23%, caused by the unpredictable nature of the British weather. Despite headlines about a so called ‘broken Britain’, vandalism only affects 3% of commercial properties, whilst accidental damage from unforeseen and unintentional spillages and breakages is higher at 19%.

A regional breakdown of annual restoration work undertaken by ServiceMaster Clean reveals, rather surprisingly, that Hampshire is the region most affected by vandalism, rather than areas of the UK with more densely populated urban centres. Greater Manchester is most affected by leaking pipes and taps, whilst West Yorkshire is the worst affected region for flood damage. Kent suffers from the greatest fire damage.

Malcolm Holmes, head of commercial support for ServiceMaster Clean, said: “Dealing with fire, flood or building contamination is a specialised discipline which is separate from general building repair work. Businesses should look for a contractor which is a member of the British Damage Management Association, ensuring the restoration works are compatible with loss adjuster and insurer processes. If businesses act quickly and use an expert restoration service, buildings can be safely restored with minimum disruption caused.”

Premises affected by flood damage take the longest time to restore, at approximately 37 days as specialists need to extract water, remove odour, dehumidify the property and restore carpets and upholstery. Fire damage takes approximately 36 days, whilst vandalism can take up to 12 days, depending upon the scale of the damage. Accidental damage is usually the quickest to restore at approximately four days.

By taking precautions, many cases of damage to buildings can be avoided, preventing the distress, damage and financial costs of property damage. For escape of water claims alone, the Association of British Insurers reported that this cost £730 million in 2010, with the average claim cost for damage being just under £2000.

To help organisations, ServiceMaster Clean has launched a free guide to restoring damaged property. The advice contained in the literature includes regularly checking for signs of water penetration in roofing, exterior walls and foundations and cleaning, inspecting and repairing gutters and down pipes and fixing leaking taps. Security measures such as lighting, fencing and CCTV can help minimise the risk of malicious damage. The guide has been developed by ServiceMaster Clean BDMA senior qualified technicians who carefully follow industry standards.

For a free copy of the guide please visit:

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