How insurers will drive BIM for asset management

Mark Coates, Viewpoint

9 October 2018

Do you know what’s inside your building and what it’s made of? Do you have the data to verify it? Insurers are starting to ask and BIM holds the key, says Mark Coates, head of strategic asset development at Viewpoint. 

Insurance is the one of the few things you buy that you hope never to use.

As a country with a commercial property market now worth more than £880bn, equivalent to 10% of Britain’s entire net wealth, it’s understandable why it’s more financially important than ever to protect our assets.

As a large investor in commercial property there is an element of insurers safeguarding their own interests.

However, given that almost a trillion pounds worth of commercial property, and more importantly the safety of people, is at stake, it is understandable that insurers want to ask more questions not only to safeguard property investments but to help protect lives.

Many questions are asked of asset owners when they’re buying or selling a property, such as location, local environment, condition, energy efficiency and running costs.

However, until very recently asset owners haven’t been asked detailed questions about a building’s fixtures and fittings, what they’re made of and when they were last checked.

Do asset owners know exactly what materials are on the exterior and interior of their buildings?

Do they know the make and specification of the fire doors and fire extinguishers they have fitted in their building? Are these items checked, maintained and the maintenance details logged regularly?

Going forward property owners not only need to be able to provide this information, but they need to be able to access the data which verifies their claims so they can prove it. Those asset owners who cannot do this face a significant hike in their insurance premiums or being unable to secure full insurance cover for their buildings.

The implications of this are huge and will be a significant driver towards rolling out BIM on all projects so that construction companies and asset owners have full understanding and visibility on the exact specification and make and model of all a building’s fixtures and fittings.

It is more difficult to carry out BIM mapping on refurb projects, but not an insurmountable task. A phased implementation of insurance disclosure could mean that we have a digital map of most of Britain’s commercial property in the space of a few years, and also empower us with the information to make them more efficient and sustainable.

Furthermore, this will also lead to property owners making significant investments in common data environments so they have a log and store of this information to answer insurers’ questions.

With the average pretax margin for the UK’s 10 largest contractors having fallen to -0.9% it is becoming more and more pertinent for asset owners to ensure they own the data related to their buildings as they might not be able to access that data if their contractor were to run into financial difficulties.

To overcome these problems asset owners should now be investing in BIM and common data environments as routinely as they buy insurance.

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