Insurance and fire risk – 350 years on from the Great Fire of London

fire riskSeptember 2016 marks the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London.  The fire, which started in the early hours of Sunday 2nd September 1666 on Pudding Lane and lasted several days, devastated London.

Over 13,000 buildings were destroyed in the fire, including many homes, commercial buildings and other well-known landmarks such as St. Paul’s Cathedral, the Royal Exchange and Newgate Prison.  Miraculously, there was little loss of human life.

As the long and arduous task of rebuilding London commenced, to try and ensure that London would not face such devastation from a fire again, a number of changes were made to laws and Parliament set up the Fire Court.

The Court was established to settle differences arising between landlords and tenants in relation to burnt buildings and decide who should pay.  A year later, physician Nicholas Barbon set up the first insurance company, the Fire Office, whose sole purpose was to insure houses against loss due to fire.

The ABI have calculated that if that particular area of London were to be hit by a similar fire today, repairing the damage caused would cost somewhere in the region of £37 billion.

The insurance industry has come a long way since 1667 but is still dependent on a proper understanding of risks. With ABI figures showing that the average claim for domestic fire damage is around £11,000 and the average claim for commercial fire around £25,000, fire is an important peril for insurance companies to consider.

To help insurance companies better understand their exposure to fire claims and likely accumulations of risk in urban locations, Business Insight has a range of data enrichment models and a mapping and accumulation management application called ‘Location Matters’. The Fire Insight data enrichment models help to assess the relative risk and variation of deliberate and accidental fire claims across the UK; both for commercial property insurance and for home insurance. The models utilise highly complex computer algorithms and vast quantities of data relating to residential and commercial property, the local environment and the demographic make-up by area to estimate risk more precisely.

Accumulation management with ‘Location Matters’ enables an insurer to monitor policy accumulations by location to gain greater insight and understanding of risk exposure, allowing insurers to answer the question ‘should another Great Fire ever happen in London again, what is my probable maximum loss’?

To find out more contact our sales team on 01926 421408.