Staying safe on campus

  • Accidents are a major source of claims on university campuses
  • As well as unpleasant injuries, these can mean higher premiums and other costs
  • Universities need to make sure their maintenance is up to scratch – and well documented

On dark nights it’s all too easy to trip and injure yourself – especially if you are hurrying back from the Students’ Union.

“We see this all the time,” says Alan Clark, Regional Senior Claims Service Manager at Zurich Municipal. “It’s a common issue. We get a lot of slips and trips due to a lack of lighting or poor maintenance.”

According to Zurich Municipal, students and staff injuring themselves on university property is the largest single source of claims, usually as a result of defects in the surface and structure of car parks and pathways, or loose and rocking paving slabs.

In fact, a large proportion of claims are as a result of poorly lit areas on campus, where students or professors slip on kerbs and twist their ankles.

Cost impact of accidents

The impact of incidents don’t just stop at physical injury, there could also be a cost issue if a new gritting, maintenance inspection regime or lighting policy is required. If this is the case, insurance premiums may rise.

Furthermore, if several incidents occur, it is likely that these will attract attention – this could lead to reputational damage.

“The fact is that, although we see a large number of claims, it is quite easy to lower the risk,” says Alan. “For a start, issuing guidance to staff and students on safe behaviour and sensible drinking is a great idea; everybody needs to know what safe procedure is.

When it comes to defending against a claim, documentation is key

Alan Clark, Regional Senior Claims Service Manager at Zurich Municipal Financial Services

“Alcohol is one of the leading causes of accidents on campus, and a slightly raised paving slab or cordoned off area could easily be missed and cause an accident if an area is badly lit or a student has been drinking.

“Organisations need to maintain facilities, make sure they are well lit and that they have a plan for bad weather. When it comes to defending against a claim, documentation is key.”

Zurich Municipal advises clients to keep a good 12 months’ worth of maintenance inspection records, cleaning records and lighting inspections.

“We need to be able to see a clear trail pre-incident,” says Alan. “We really encourage customers to make sure they record positively. If there’s nothing wrong, say that there is nothing wrong. That way it’s easier to look back and prove what was going on.”

No-one wants an injury on their hands and by keeping the campus neat, well-maintained and well-lit, we can make sure everyone gets home safely.