How we help The University of Oxford reduce risk

  • Zurich Risk Engineering's goal is to understand our customer’s risk management issues through in-depth consultations
  • One customer we have worked closely with for several years is The University of Oxford
  • Steve Mills, Risk Analyst, and Gary Howe, Senior Fire Protection Engineer, take us through this valued relationship and explain the value we add, with comment from Jack Frowde, Insurance Officer at The University of Oxford.

When it comes to Risk Engineering, Zurich’s goal is to understand our customer’s risk management issues through in-depth consultations.  From this initial discussion we can then provide data, tools and risk insight for our customers to make informed decisions and better manage their strategies and total cost of risk. One customer we have worked closely with for several years is The University of Oxford. Steve Mills, Risk Analyst, who has been Account Engineer for over five years and Gary Howe, Senior Fire Protection Engineer, involved for three, take us through this valued relationship and explain the value we add.

Through being trusted advisers to the University, Steve and Gary provide risk advice and insights to support them in managing their property portfolio now and in the future.  The University property portfolio is massive and diverse; from historic Listed buildings through to state-of-the-art modern research facilities.

Understanding the risks

Steve explains, “Each year we agree a series of property surveys with Lyndie Hayes (Head of Insurance) and Jack Frowde (Insurance Officer) to better understand how their property risks are being managed and provide risk improvement advice; whilst also conveying essential information to our own Underwriters.  Along with the Insurance Office, we are also joined by the University Fire Officer and staff from the Oxford University Security Services on our surveys to ensure a rounded, holistic approach”.

“In addition to the site work, Gary and I are also consulted on design proposals for new buildings and refurbishment projects.  Along with other key stakeholders, we are able to meet with Architects and Project Managers to influence the incorporation of property risk mitigation measures at the planning stage”.

“Our work in the planning stages of projects allows us to provide advice about compartmentation, green roofs, use of PV (solar) panels, high risk areas like chemical stores, and considerations about valuable research equipment and the potential for escape of water risks”

Gary, in his role as Senior Fire Protection Engineer, focuses on providing specialist advice, support and plan reviews of proposed, planned and existing fixed fire protection projects – such as sprinklers, water mist and fire detection systems.  Thanks to the tenacity and effort of Lyndie Hayes over a number of years, Oxford University’s philosophy when it comes to new build projects is that these new buildings must be sprinkler protected.

“My role is to support Steve to ensure that all University projects consider not only the statutory legal requirements required by the building regulations but to also consider the wider implications of property protection, such as business resilience and continuity, reputation and environmental risk.”

Gary adds, “it’s great that our relationship with Oxford means they really trust us. Being able to be so proactively involved means we can share our knowledge and help shape any projects they have”.

Making a difference

Jack Frowde, Insurance Officer at The University of Oxford, believes having Zurich risk engineers at the table from the outset really makes a difference.

“The relationship we have built with Steve, Gary and their colleagues has been invaluable to the way we work and approach our major capital projects. Having such a high level of knowledge and expertise at our fingertips means we can work with the project teams from as early as initial feasibility stages with ease. This ensures that we raise and integrate key risk engineering elements into our projects as early as possible.

Zurich’s willingness to communicate and engage in such an approachable and open manner throughout the life of a project also means that trust and understanding is at the forefront of the service they provide.  This key early engagement between Zurich, the University and the project team also enables a smooth working relationship throughout a project.”

Steve concludes “the work we do with Oxford is certainly challenging, but it’s also fascinating and a privilege.  We have worked hard to create a positive, forward-thinking, risk aware relationship over a number of years – long may it continue”.

For more information about how Zurich help our customers through risk management, click here.

For more insight and advice for the education sector, visit our education page.