The LWF Blog

Facilities Management & Fire Safety – Insurers & Property Protection – Part 11

March 4, 2019 2:46 pm

In LWF’s blog series for those who work in Facilities Management, or who have an interest in or responsibility for fire safety, we have been looking at the role of the insurer in property protection. In part 10, we looked at how the buoyancy of the insurance market affects the level of fire protection required in buildings and how this is impacted by the requirements of reinsurers. In part 11, LWF looks at the role of loss control surveyors.


In order to protect their risk, insurance companies began to use specialists originally known as fire surveyors. These days, they are more commonly called loss control surveyors or loss control engineers (although they may or may not be qualified engineers). The role of the loss control surveyor is to provide information and make recommendations about measures that should be taken to reduce loss in the case of a fire. This information is provided to the underwriters and is used as the basis for the insurance premium charged. The recommendations are then passed on to the company in question so that they may take precautions against fire as a condition of their insurance.

The loss control surveyor is essentially carrying out a property fire risk assessment. It should be noted that a property fire risk assessment is not the same as the fire risk assessment required by law of the company and its representative (responsible person). The FRA undertaken by the company is concerned with life safety and not property protection.


The loss control surveyor will provide the underwriter with maximum loss estimates which can be known by various different terminologies depending upon the company – estimated maximum loss (EML), maximum probable loss (MPL) and maximum foreseeable loss (MFL) are three examples. These figures are necessary to the insurer in order to provide a suitable policy to the insured and to ensure that adequate reinsurance can be put into place to protect the risk.


It is usual for two such figures to be provided by the loss control surveyor, one which refers to the loss which might be incurred if all fire protection measures operate correctly and one which relates to the loss if the fire protection measures are somehow impaired.


While a loss control surveyor and the company for which he/she works will not concern themselves with life safety, this does not absolve the business in question from doing so. Nor does it mean that the insurers are somehow dismissive of life safety fire protection measures. Quite simply, a fire insurer is concerned only with the financial impact of fire on a business to the extent that they insure it; legislation is in place which states that the responsibility for life safety lies with the business in question and the business’ fire insurer has no contractual or legitimate concern with life safety matters.


In part 12 of this series, LWF will continue looking at the role of the loss control surveyor. In the meantime, if you have any queries about your own facilities or wish to discuss this blog series, please contact Peter Gyere in the first instance on 0208 668 8663.


Lawrence Webster Forrest is a fire engineering consultancy based in Surrey with over 25 years’ experience, which provides a wide range of consultancy services to professionals involved in the design, development and construction and operation of buildings. 


While care has been taken to ensure that information contained in LWF’s publications is true and correct at the time of publication, changes in circumstances after the time of publication may impact on the accuracy of this information.


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