Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

Thousands of businesses at threat from winter water damage - from inside the building

One in five business owners and managers do not know where their stopcock is

Businesses are being urged to protect themselves from the effects of internal water damage this winter following new research from Fortis. As many as 20-30 per cent of insurance property claims costs are for escape of water from inside the building1, with the most common being from the effects of a burst pipe.

In addition, new research from Fortis has shown that as many as one in five business owners and managers responsible for premises would not know where to locate the water shut off valve in the event of a major leak or burst pipe2.

Fortis and the British Insurance Brokers’ Association, have teamed up to help businesses avoid a repeat of the disruptive leaks and internal water damage that led to a massive increase in insurance claims last winter3 and no doubt a loss of trade for many companies too. This year though, there is a free downloadable risk management advice guide for every business which outlines key guidance and tips for protecting their business against escape of water.

As well as lagging pipes and checking joints there are other simple checks that businesses can make along with ‘insider tips’ to follow, especially if premises are going to be unattended for any period. Key advice from the toolkit includes:

  • How heating should be managed when premises are left unattended;

  • Making sure pipes, the loft and header and water tanks are appropriately insulated to stop freezing and bursting in areas most at risk;

  • Ensuring staff with responsibility for the premises know where the stopcock is and have a clear plan for what to do if there is an escape of water;

  • Regular inspection of pipes and plumbing joints, especially those in vulnerable locations and those that are plastic and therefore more likely to degrade.

Commenting on the campaign, Adam Clarke, Underwriting Director from Fortis said: “The advice guide offers very practical help that can be applied by businesses of all sizes but is especially useful for those smaller and growing firms that don’t have in-house maintenance staff. By following the expert tips we have prepared, businesses could gain valuable peace of mind and, crucially, avoid vast expense and disruption during the colder months.”

Steve Foulsham, BIBA’s Technical Services Manager, added: “Businesses should be speaking to their broker about reducing and managing their risk and looking at how these increased claims could affect their premium, cover and excess. Businesses need suitable cover but different policies have different terms and a broker is best placed to advise on the most suitable protection. The cost to businesses if they are unable to trade is a big concern and we are urging them to take action before lower temperatures start leading to losses.”

Visit or to download the advice guide and to find a broker in your area for straightforward advice about protecting your business from escape of water this winter.