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What is it? 

Fire is one of the most expensive property insurance claims, with £1.3 billion being paid out to customers during 2021. 

  • The ABI is committed to reducing the risk posed by fire through a number of industry and consumer campaigns. We work with the Government and stakeholders to tackle major fire losses and ensure that Building Regulations for Fire Safety are reformed to reduce the risk of major fires in high-risk buildings, improved risk management and public policy initiatives. 

The ABI has developed the Buildings Blueprint. This details the 5 key priorities the insurance industry has for reducing risks posed by fire: 

  • Improve safety for firefighters and residents in high rises by reintroducing stricter rules for tall buildings. 
  • Reduce the risk to new build properties by guaranteeing the use of materials that don’t burn on the outside of tall buildings. 
  • Protect refurbished properties by ensuring any changes either maintain or improve the level of fire protection. 
  • Keep fire-safety rules for buildings up-to-date by regularly reviewing them so they keep pace with construction methods. 
  • Introduce compulsory sprinklers for new schools, care homes and warehouses over 2000m². 

How to prevent it? 

Property owners can take a variety of precautions to reduce the risk of fire: 

  • Make sure your property has the correct fire safety equipment. Smoke alarms are a must for both homes and commercial properties. Make sure they are regularly tested to ensure they are working properly. 
  • Have a fire escape plan and make sure all occupants are aware of the plan; keep potential fire exits unblocked to allow easy access. 
  • Keep candles and naked flames in a secure place away from flammable materials and make sure you extinguish them when you leave the room. 
  • Stay safe in the kitchen by never leaving cooking food unattended, keep appliances clean and in good repair, and not putting metal items in a microwave.
  • Remember to unplug electrics when not using them, regularly check for potential faults and don’t overload sockets.  
  • Keep your insurance policy documents and emergency contact numbers close at hand. This can help speed up the claims process.

In Scotland the law on fire alarms is changing from February 2022 which means all Scottish homes will need to have interlinked alarms – you can read more about this change here. Insurers support measures to improve fire safety, and we support the use of high integrity alarms as per the Fire Protection Association guidance.

We support any initiative that can help save lives and would encourage people to install interlinked alarms so that they can evacuate their home safely in the event of a fire.

Our members are aware of the new regulations coming into force and will not invalidate a home insurance fire claim for existing customers purely because they have not yet complied with the new law in Scotland. Anyone who is unclear on their policy terms and conditions should speak to their insurer

What to do if it happens? 

  • If a fire breaks out in your property, contact the emergency services immediately. 
  • Never put yourself in danger or at risk, wait until the emergency services have arrived, dealt with the fire and told you it is safe before returning to your property. 
  • Contact your insurer as soon as possible to begin the claims process. Many insurers operate 24-hour helplines and will be able to advice you on the next steps and what will happen with your claim as it goes forward. 
  • Protect property from further damage by covering holes in walls/roof to protect from the elements or moving property that’s at risk of greater damage.
  • If necessary, arrange emergency repairs to stop any damage getting worse. Tell your insurer and keep any receipts, as this will form part of your claim.