Aviva warns of an increase in water damage claims

Article date: 14 December 2009

Property owners should carry out risk management measures to protect their buildings from serious damage brought on by winter weather, says Aviva.

With some firms closing between Christmas and New Year, water damage from burst or frozen pipes may not be detected until business resumes after the New Year, leaving the problem to escalate further.

The number of commercial claims for frozen pipes and water leaks increase by around 20% between December and February, with claims costs rising by about a quarter (27%) more than average¹ to approx £3,100 in January. With the Met office² predicting colder spells of weather this winter, businesses need to take steps to protect their property.

Paul Redington, property claims manager for Aviva, said: “Water damage claims tend to peak during the first two weeks of January and this could be as owners return to their premises following the festive break. However, losses don’t just occur during the Christmas break.  Any long period of closure can mean water damage can escalate where the leak remains undetected whether it is during holiday periods or even during the night or at weekends. 

“With around 300 gallons of water passing through a pipe in just 10 minutes³ the results can lead to substantial damage.

“Companies closing down for Christmas should take some simple precautions ahead of any potential cold snap, to prevent expensive damage occurring. The damage and cost to a business as a result of water escape can be just as devastating as that of a fire or flood. A quick daily visit to premises to check all is well is the best approach. This small investment in time can save weeks of business interruption. 

“Although more sophisticated drying techniques are now supplementing the traditional methods, water can penetrate deep into the fabric of a building and the drying process must be done correctly and by competent contractors. Brokers and insurers should advise and assist in getting professional remediation contractors on site quickly.

“To avoid the problem of water escape from the outset, plumbing systems must be up to standard. During the construction phase of any new build and during maintenance work, systems need to be properly tested and commissioned before going live and plumbers must be competent. 

“Brokers should also make sure that customers carry out regular checks and servicing of all water and plumbing systems. Automatic cut off and isolation systems should be considered in some circumstances.

“If a business were to suffer an escape of water, being prepared can greatly limit the costs and any down-time. Having a business continuity plan in place is key to minimising the effects and getting the business up and running again as quickly as possible. 

“Sums insured must also be accurate, whilst opting for adequate business interruption cover incorporating not just the potential effect on profits, but also alternative accommodation costs or the loss of rent for a property owner whilst the property is dried out.

“Brokers play a vital role in ensuring that businesses are fully aware of the risks and are prepared for the worst.”

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For further information, please contact:
Sam Bramwell at Staniforth on 0161 919 8024/ 077381 96667 or Vicki Burn from Aviva’s press office on 01603 684224 / 07800 692909.

Notes to editors:

Aviva, the international savings, investments and insurance group, is the world’s fifth largest insurance group, serving 50 million customers across Europe, North America and Asia Pacific.

In the UK, Aviva is a leading provider of life, pensions, investment, general insurance and health products to more than 20 million customers. Aviva also provides roadside assistance through RAC. Products are distributed through a number of channels including IFAs, brokers, corporate partners and direct to customers via the internet.

Aviva's UK Insurance business has a market share of around 15%, making it the largest general insurer in the UK. The business is focused on insurance for individuals and small businesses.

Aviva's life and pensions business in the UK has a total market share of 12% and a top three position in its key markets of savings, protection, and annuities.

Aviva’s news releases and a selection of images are available from the internet press centre at www.aviva.com/media.

References 
¹ Aviva’s escape of water and burst pipe commercial claims data for period of October-March each year since 2004. Average January claims cost £3,191 which is 27% higher than autumn/winter averages.

² www.metoffice.gov.uk/

³ Water running at a 3bar pressure from a 22mm pipe.

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