Handling a fire claim in an industrial setting

The occurrence of a loss in the industrial sector is never trivial. It inevitably involves often sustained decrease inactivity or even a total cessation of production, resulting in significant financial losses. In these conditions, the first moments that follow the loss are decisive as to limit its impact 

Fire is a significant risk in the industrial sector. In France, over the last ten years, there have been around 1,200 industrial accidents triggered by fire. In this type of situation, the problem is twofold. Operationally, there is the issue of activity recovery, given that production lines are stopped; then there is prevention to avoid such a loss from being repeated.

 

Industrial losses: much more than property damage 

In addition to the property damage that it can cause to the production tool, a factory fire may also seriously disrupt the activity, compromise the cash flow or even threaten the existence of the business. The numbers speak for themselves: 70% of companies that are victims of a major loss disappear in the months that follow its occurrence 

This is not only for economic reasons but also for: 

  • Environmental and human reasons, with the risk of depositing toxic waste or fumes, an event that has immediate and serious consequences for staff, local residents and the environment. Such was the case, for example, with the fire at Notre-Dame in Paris, which resulted in more than 400 tons of lead being released into the environment under particle form. On industrial sites, the leakage of substances such as chlorine or ammonia can cause serious injuries. 
  • Social reasons, with many jobs being jeopardized if a company were not properly insured or if its activity were to collapse.  

 

Limiting property damage and business interruption 

In the event of a fire occurring in an industrial setting, the implementation of provisional measures is paramount. The objective will be, for example, to prevent a building from collapsing and to save everything that can be salvaged. These actions must be carried out with the company and in accordance with its priorities in order to limit property damage or business interruption.   

In case of a partial loss, decontamination is also an essential step in handling the loss and reducing the amount of time it takes to recover the activity, therefore reducing business interruption. 

Faced with a major loss, and when the reconstruction takes several months, management in project mode really makes sense. This claim handling mode gives the insurer and the insured better visibility of the life cycle of the claim and of the period during which the activity will be disrupted. Operating in project mode also facilitates the acquisition of real-time information on the progress of the claim, with the monitoring of the adjustment proceedings thanks to a collaborative platform and a planning tool. 

 

Anticipating fire risks: root cause investigation and prevention 

Root cause analysis and investigation is necessary for most large-scale fire losses. It allows the company and its insurer to understand what happened and potentially takes action against whoever was responsible. Knowing the cause of a loss is also essential for implementing preventative measures in relation to the encountered problem.  

In order to investigate the root cause of the fire, the area of the fire outbreak is quarantined for the period during which any potential recovery may arise. This makes it possible to preserve the area in order for it to be effective, with the aim of finding the responsible parties and building a picture of the fire scenario and of its resulting liabilities 

Should the insured be responsible for the cause of the loss, it is necessary to raise awareness. That is why our intervention also involves giving advice on preventative measures that are specific to each fire loss, as well as analyzing equipment or human failures in order to prevent such a loss from being repeated. 

For example, within the context of an electrical fire, several preventative measures can be taken: infra-red thermography, instructions to turn off electrical equipment after use, prohibiting too many connections on a power strip (to avoid electrical overload), etc. 

 

Handling industrial fire claims abroad  

Internationally, the handling of such claims can be complex. One of the peculiarities of the fire claims abroad is mainly due to the fact that some countries do not possess any decontamination companies, which gives rise to additional logistics considerations. 

For example, the TGS teams recently intervened in a factory fire in Tunisia. In this instance, the decision was made to hire a contractor to handle the decontamination operations, particularly given their scale and complexity. 

This type of situation presents certain challenges from an insurance and loss adjusting perspective. A local loss adjuster, acting as a warrantor for the local police, was present at the site of the loss; he was supported by a TGS loss adjuster acting on behalf of the master policy, that of the headquarters of the affected company. In such situations, the use of project mode is all the more relevant as it greatly facilitates communication between stakeholders and improves the flow of exchanges. 

 

Reactivity and attention to detail, as well as organizational flexibility, are essential to good fire claims handling in a professional setting. Challenges that operating in project mode, possessing an effective network and solid experience can help you overcome, both in France and abroad. 

 

Béatrice GRANDURY, International Director | TGS

Bruno DUCASSOU, Paris Damages Director| TGS