Scoring UK Commercial Property Fire Risk: Part 1

3 Minute Read
Fire damage to buildings in the UK represents a significant portion (~16%) of all the losses covered by insurers in the UK
Reenactment of the 1666 Great fire of London
Photo by Rowan Freeman / Unsplash

The Numbers Behind UK Commercial Fires

The insurance problem

Claims from fire damage to commercial properties in the UK are a significant cost to Insurers - fire damage to buildings in the UK represents around 17%[1] - a significant portion of all the losses recorded by insurers in the UK.

Last year The Association of British Insurers reported UK insurers paid out around £1.3bn[2] in fire related claims with commercial property loss accounting for around 70% of this sum.

With some 2.3m commercial properties registered in the UK this segment of the market is a large, lucrative and attractive one for many insurers.  However, without a full and detailed understanding of the potential losses presented by fire, insurers may incorrectly price the property and expose themselves to unnecessary and unprofitable risks.

UK Fires 2018/19
UK Primary Fires (as recorded by UK Fire and Rescue Services)

Addresscloud have analysed some 200,000 UK commercial property fire incidents since 2010 in order to score commercial properties. This is helping insurers to understand the fire risk presented by the property.  

In the first of two posts, this blog looks at the numbers behind fires in commercial properties across the UK as the basis for our new scoring.

Fire Figures

In 2018/19 there were 182,825 recorded fires in England[3], 73,214 of those were significant primary fires[4]. These are serious fires that cause harm to people or damage to property. Non-residential (commercial) building fires accounted for 15,005 of those (20%), and residential fires 29,570 (40%).

UK Commercial Property Fires 2018/19

As a comparison Scotland[5]saw 10,450 primary fires in the same year around 2,448 (25%) were in commercial buildings; Wales saw 4,392 fires of which some 786 (18%) were in commercial buildings.

For England alone this means that around 1 in 140 commercial premises are likely to experience a fire each year.

Fires By Building Type

Using data published by the relevant national Fire and Rescue Services Addresscloud have analysed some 200,000 primary fire incidents recorded in commercial buildings between 2010 and 2019.

These data show that 'Industrial premises' have seen the most fires, accounting for nearly 1 in 5 of all fires, closely followed by 'Retail premises' and 'Food and drink premises'.

Primary Fires (England 2010 - 2019) by premise type

Final words

Commercial fires are a significant risk to the profitability of UK insurers.  Whilst raw fire incident data is available, this alone is insufficient to enable insurers to get a clear and realistic understanding of the risk presented by a commercial property.

In the second part of this blog (available soon) we look at how Addresscloud have developed a risk score using multiple fire risk parameters for all 2.1m commercial properties in the UK.

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To trial our Addresscloud fire scores model, please get in touch with our team



[3] infographic-detailed-analysis-fires-attended-fire-rescue-england

[4]Other non primary fires are termed secondary fires and account for 58% of all fires recorded in England, these are small outdoor fires, not involving people or property and are not considered further.


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