Insurers are begining to adapt to BIM and to see its opportunities


As I predicted in my report ‘Growth through BIM’ (CIC 2013), it’s not just members of the construction industry who will be interested in and affected by BIM. Recently I attended an insurance industry briefing on using BIM to reduce fire risks.

The message to the underwriters from a university specialist was that BIM methods can be used in a number of ways. Simulations can be run on the BIM to check that regulations have been met, and to watch a notional fire event unfold for fire-engineering purposes.

The value of sprinklers can be demonstrated. Beyond that, given that the combustibility of objects in the model is knowable, the fire load can be shown and dangerous adjacencies can be checked like structural clashes. Thirdly, the potential exists to build applications to guide the designer into a safe configuration. The whole design could be given a “resilience rating” which would affect the premiums required to cover it.

For asset protection, the elements of the building can be registered by tagging. The full maintenance history can be retained. All this shortens the work of forensic investigators after an event. Feedback from any fire or flood event can be captured to improve understanding for future analytics.

I would add that the rapid arrival of the “Internet of Things” (IoT)to the world of Building Management Systems provides even more potential to catch trouble almost before it starts, make better crisis management decisions and learn from events to build smarter designs.

This is more evidence of how BIM and IoT will add value to the built environment, reducing risk and loss and taking better decisions on behalf of humans. Insurance only covers direct losses and most businesses affected by fire or flood don’t survive. BIM-powered, resilience-rated design may be the best insurance.

Richard Saxon is the UK’s BIM ambassador for growth. He is also on the board of the CIC, responsible for innovation.