January 31, 2023

The new era of construction risk insurance: detecting a fire with wireless technology


Nicolas Lochet – Author

Construction fire image showing correlation with article

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Nicolas, Regional Technical Director for Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty explains the relationship between fire and insurance for the construction industry.

NOTTINGHAM, NOTTINGHAMSHIRE, UK, January 28, 2022 /EINPresswire.com/ — In the construction sector, the main cause of financial losses between 2016 and 2020 was fire, leading to insurance losses reaching a staggering 11.3 billion euros. With engineering and construction playing a vital role in Europe’s economic recovery amid COVID-19, the industry cannot afford not to take the risk of fire seriously. In addition, any fire protection measure must be robust to meet the requirements of insurers. Nicolas Lochet, Regional Technical Director for Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty explains the relationship between fire and insurance for the construction industry. This includes how wireless fire protection solutions can mitigate risk and support insurance coverage or claims for construction sites.

How has construction risk assessment evolved over the past five years?
The shift to sustainable energy and the adoption of modern construction methods are already transforming the risk landscape, with sweeping changes in design, materials and construction processes. These changes mean that risk engineers need to be integrated much more consistently into every project, allowing for a deeper understanding, as well as a tailored assessment.

With regard to the new types of risk assessed, there are three main areas. First, modular construction is expanding rapidly, leading to increased exposures, particularly in the use of wood, which can create multiple fire hazards in the event of an incident.

Second, extreme weather events have caused major losses for the property insurance market in recent years due to climate change.
Then there are the risks of digitizing construction. Cyber ​​exposures, especially from a data perspective, are a major concern for site managers, especially when considering large-scale projects, which may have millions of data points that must each be individually protected and securely managed.

What has been the biggest headache for insurers and the main risk in construction?
In our latest research paper, “Examining the new age of construction risk”, we undertook an extensive analysis over a five-year period looking at the main causes cited in EU engineering and construction claims between the January 1, 2016 and December 31, 2020.

Our analysis, of 29,640 claims, found that fire was responsible for more than a quarter of the value of all building insurance losses, reversing more than £11billion in total. At the same time, natural hazards accounted for nearly one in five claims, so the need to manage site security from a fire or emergency perspective is a critical element for site managers to consider. .

During remodels/renovations, many sites are forced to deactivate a permanent fire alarm while the work is in progress. Are the sites insured if they do not use a temporary fire alarm system or wake-up call during this time?
Some insurers on the market can insure in this regard, but few. Our own policy makes a temporary alarm system a mandatory or strongly recommended requirement above a certain threshold of values ​​or total sum insured. It’s also important that this is checked on a country-by-country basis, but if you’re going through a global provider, the risks will more than likely be assessed the same, regardless of region or market. Our own policy is that projects of a similar nature will require the same level of protection for all risks.

What is the average time frame for payment once a major incident has occurred (eg fire, collapse, flood, etc.)?
Depending on the complexity of the application, around two years is usual. Determining the loss is a long and complex process, and project managers should take into account that most insurers will require prepayment to start work. This is why it is imperative to have a robust fire safety system to prevent risks on a construction site, even during construction.

How can construction bosses mitigate the risk of fire and how is technology changing the game?
Communication technologies are playing an increasingly important role in emergency response and rescue efforts, as well as personal safety in general. Apps can provide operators, staff and security employees with one-click access to site-specific emergency protocols, resources as well as emergency notifications and access to critical information.

What is important is to train staff in the use of applications, to make them intuitive in order to save time and lives to respond to emergency situations. This is where advanced wireless fire emergency response systems come in so handy on construction sites. The use of smart devices, integrated with an IoT software platform, creates a community where workers are connected to their environment, safety managers and their extended team, helping to ensure safety around the clock and 7 days a week on the sites.

Solutions like the Ramtech Global WES3 fire escape detection system eliminates the need for a hard-wired power source, which is important because not all construction sites will be connected to the grid. Each unit is placed at strategic points on the site and powered by a battery, which lasts three years in normal use, to secure the site during all phases of construction, whether electricity is available or not. When this EN54-25 compliant connected device is seamlessly integrated into cloud-based platforms, such as REACT, this then allows real-time fire monitoring for alerts even from a distance. Additionally, these alerts can be automatically redirected to emergency authorities should the worst happen.

In summary, using wireless technology to help protect construction sites from the risk of fire is extremely beneficial. Given the long payment delays and uncertainty over insurance risk definitions, it makes sense to ensure that whatever can be put in place to prevent a fire from occurring, or to catch it quickly before major damage or loss to life occurs, is done so. However, the risk of fire is always a possibility, which is why it is mandatory to have appropriate insurance in place. With the construction industry changing at a rapid pace, following the latest risk assessment processes and investing in technology to protect a site is the way to go.

Charne Ray Lo Giudice
+44 7484 305296
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WES wireless fire alarm and evacuation developed for construction sites – Explanatory video

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