Helping housing associations cut claims

  • The top three claims for housing associations are slips and trips, water damage and fire
  • Many of the losses could have been avoided with better maintenance
  • Working closely with your insurer is a great way to develop a more effective risk culture

Housing associations, due to the very nature of their business, are very susceptible to property damage and casualty claims involving damage to property and incidents with tenants.

By far the largest number of these claims relate to slips and trips, followed by water damage and fire, according to Clive Speed, Regional Senior Claims Service Manager at Zurich Municipal.

But future losses could be avoided if maintenance procedures are deployed now, and there is a great deal that housing associations can do in partnership with their insurer to cut claims.

“The bottom line from Zurich Municipal’s perspective is that we want to encourage and support our customers to review and update their policies on maintenance,” says Clive.

“All-too-often these policies are inconsistent and their implementation is erratic.”

Start a conversation

Reviewing current claims information is the perfect way to start a conversation between insurers and their customers about how claims costs impact on their insurance spend, and what they can do to bring these costs down.

“We have very experienced Risk Consultants who can assist and support our customers, review their individual capabilities and claims histories, and recommend improvements that can help mitigate risks and improve claims defensibility ,” says Clive.

“They will provide a report that will give a good overview of your exposure and offer suggestions for mitigation. We can then support the customer in implementing these recommendations to make sure they happen.”

How does this relationship work?

The relationship between Zurich Municipal and Four Housing Group is a great example of how productive this type of conversation can be. A team from Zurich Municipal recently provided guidance and support for them during an Estate Inspection project.

Janette Longstaff, Head of Finance and ICT at Four Housing, says the support the team received was very welcome: “Zurich Municipal provided sound advice, guidance and training,” she says.

“We adopted a corporate, ‘one team’ approach, with staff members across all of the organisation’s disciplines playing a part and getting involved. This approach has ensured that our risk-management practices are embedded, and form part of our normal day-to-day way of doing things.

“Zurich Municipal was on hand throughout and supported us with critical friend reviews, and this helped us to ensure that we always stayed on track. Our internal team always found Zurich Municipal professional, knowledgeable and approachable.

“With mobilisation, we have now taken the project to the next level. With the real-time capture of estate inspection data, we can ensure that our resources are effectively targeted, and our risks continue to be well managed.”

Change from within

Clive says Four Housing was very receptive to engaging with Zurich Municipal in managing risk: “The team understood straightaway the cost link, and bought into what we were advising.

The bottom line from Zurich Municipal’s perspective is that we want to encourage and support our clients to review and update their policies on maintenance.

Clive Speed, Claims Service Manager at Zurich Municipal

“That’s continuing and the customer is doing more all the time. It is investing more in technology. For example, buying tablets with all its procedures and documents ready-downloaded on them, meaning staff have everything at their fingertips and can geomap where they are to report problems more accurately.

“This kind of change really needs to come from within the organisation. Without that enthusiasm, it’s very hard to make progress.”

The essential ingredient in creating a good working relationship – and really getting to grips with risk – is willingness from both sides to embrace change and create better working practices.

“It’s about creating together a new risk culture and that goes across the enterprise,” says Clive.