We have developed a flood guide offering practical advice on emergency flood situations. It is available here for free on our website. In an effort to extend this advice to as many of our customers as possible, we also maintain a severe weather microsite. This provides ‘before’, ‘during’ and ‘after’ guidance to people coping with severe weather.
Our Risk Engineering unit works with customers through site assessment and new build design meetings to ensure existing and proposed buildings are protected to the highest possible standard from things like fire, storm and flood damage. To support this, we have developed award-winning design guidance documents for the education and housing sectors which outline Zurich’s views on new and refurbished building projects. In addition, we have worked closely with the construction industry to understand modern methods of construction and provide training and guidance to our customers and underwriters on the risks presented by sustainable materials.
As part of our work to understand how risk, is changing for our customers, Zurich Municipal brought the risks associated with climate change to the attention of social housing providers in its ‘Managing Risk and Uncertainty in Social Housing Guide’. This guide includes two chapters that very much support organisations looking to improve climate change risk management: Climate Change and the Environment and Business Continuity Management.
Zurich offers customers the option to receive their policy documentation in electronic format and online. Zurich’s direct motor and home products sees a model designed for greater customer self-servicing, with the ability to manage policy adjustments and obtain policy documentation electronically. We are also moving towards far greater use of e-mail in our trading and marketing communications with our brokers across the UK.
Replacement of insured goods
All white goods such as washing machines, dishwashers, refrigerator and upright freezers replaced by our approved suppliers are replaced with Band A energy-efficient appliances. If damaged electrical goods are not repairable, they are dismantled and the undamaged components are thoroughly tested and reused or recycled. All our claims suppliers are contracted to comply with the relevant environment standards for waste disposal.
Our claims team are also making a transformational shift in how they communicate with customers and settle their claims with a new IT platform that went live in April 2014. Emails or texts are being sent instead of letters and claims settlements are by electronic fund transfer instead of cheques wherever possible.
Commercial property insurance
In response to the increasing requirement for policyholders to adapt to climate change, and European and UK legislation and regulation on building and construction standards, we now enable policyholders to reinstate damaged buildings with improvements already recommended as part of an Energy Performance Certificate assessment, and to use materials that not only improve thermal qualities but also utilise materials with a lower carbon footprint. We also enable policyholders to improve climate resilience in rebuilding following an insured loss. The covers include the opportunity for building adaptation to improve thermal qualities, flood resilience and debris recycling.
As a large real estate insurer, we continue to focus upon the emergence of sustainability risk as a result of legislation and the economic response to it, allied to apparent changing weather patterns. In 2014 Zurich’s commercial business built upon its 2013 White Paper: ‘Energy and Sustainability’ with a follow up document ‘Assessing Energy Act risks on a real estate portfolio’ and this is shortly to be joined by piece upon the separate approach being taken in Scotland. We also produced a short film to advise our customers on these issues. It can be viewed here
Our global corporate business has a product range offering broad insurance coverage for both the construction and operational exposures of wind farm projects. Companies involved in the construction and operation of wind farms are able to obtain protection to meet diverse risk management needs during the construction and operational phases under one programme, ensuring gaps in cover do not occur as projects are completed.
Our commercial business also offers an insurance, telematics and risk management proposition for motor fleets, which helps enable safer, more efficient and more environmentally-friendly fleets. Working very closely with our underwriting and risk engineering specialists, and by combining Telematics technology with driver development and management, companies can identify risky driving behaviour. They can also put in place appropriate measures to improve fuel efficiency, vehicle wear-and-tear and improve vehicle deployment to reduce unnecessary journeys, often helping to achieve double digit improvements in fuel efficiency.
Environmental issues in underwriting
In providing insurance to corporate customers and large projects, we may be exposed to environmental issues inherent in certain business transactions. For example, the construction of a hydroelectric dam may contribute to economic development in a particular location, but it may also destroy a pristine environment, reduce biodiversity, and force the resettlement of people.
We have therefore issued guidance to our underwriters to systematically identify, assess and mitigate such issues and to work with our customers to address them.
For further information please see chapter 3 of our ClimateWise report