ABI: Record fire damage costs of £3.4 million a day spark fears of surge in large-scale fires

Businesses and homeowners battling through the recession are being hit by an increasing fire threat according to figures released today by the ABI (Association of British Insurers). The cost of fire damage in 2008 rose by 16% on 2007 to a record £1.3 billion – £3.4 million every day. The figures show that in 2008:

. Commercial fire damage cost £865 million, up 15% on the previous year. School fires alone cost £33 million, with a serious school fire occurring every month on average.
. Fire damage to homes cost £408 million, up 17% on the previous year.

Nick Starling, the ABI’s Director of General Insurance and Health, said:

“These are alarming figures. They highlight both the importance of fire insurance, and reducing and managing the fire risk.

“We know that arson tends to increase during an economic downturn. Insurers are reporting a rise in large-scale fires that are increasingly putting lives at risk. We believe that arson and fraud are contributing factors. We are investigating this worrying trend, and will be publishing our recommendations for tackling the problem later this year.”

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Notes for Editors

1. Enquiries to:
Jonathan French 020 7216 7392 (Mobile: 07958 330 480)
Malcolm Tarling 020 7216 7410 (Mobile: 07776 147 667)
Erfan Hussain 020 7216 7411 (Mobile: 07712 841 184)
Kelly Ostler-Coyle 020 7216 7415 (Mobile: 07968 364 302)

2. The ABI is the voice of the insurance and investment industry. Its members constitute over 90 per cent of the insurance market in the UK and 20 per cent across the EU. They control assets equivalent to a quarter of the UK’s capital. They are the risk managers of the UK’s economy and society. Through the ABI their voice is heard in Government and in public debate on insurance, savings and investment matters.

3. An ISDN line is available for broadcasts.

Copies of all ABI news releases, together with other information from the Association, can be seen on our website http://www.abi.org.uk