Theft of metal from empty commercial properties in the UK has led to a 2,500% increase in the cost of this type of claim since 2004, Zurich has found.
According to the insurer, it’s the damage caused by thieves attempting to get to the metal which is proving the biggest problem for property owners, with claims regularly accounting for 20% of an entire property’s value.
The firm’s real estate business manager, Ian Parker, explains: “We have seen cases where theft of cabling has disrupted asbestos in ceilings meaning the whole lot then needs to be professionally removed.”
He adds: “The removal of pipes can lead to the escape of water, which might mean anything from a small leak to major flooding.”
In this respect, the most vulnerable properties are:
Large warehouses or factories – their size and function mean they are likely to have more cables, making them attractive to metal thieves.
They are also likely to be in areas that are quiet outside of working hours and have yard areas, so that thieves’ vehicles can be brought on site.
Office premises on office parks – these share many features with industrial properties, however, while the quantity of valuable metals might be less it is also usually more difficult to remove and can therefore mean more damage.