Expert insight: How insurers and banks will drive BIM for asset management

Do you know what’s inside your building and what it’s made of? Insurers are starting to ask, and BIM holds the key, writes Mark Coates, strategic industry engagements director, Bentley Systems

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

The UK’s commercial property market is now worth over £880 billion ($1.1 trillion), which is equivalent to 10% of the country’s entire net wealth, and 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 to not only safeguard property investments but also 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 that they have fitted in their building? Are these items checked and maintained, and are the maintenance details regularly logged?

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

The implications are huge and will be significant drivers towards rolling out BIM on all projects, which would help construction companies and asset owners have full understanding and visibility on the exact specification and make and model of a building’s entire fixtures and fittings.

It is more difficult to carry out BIM mapping on refurbishment 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. It would also empower us with the information to make these projects more efficient and sustainable.

Furthermore, BIM will also lead to property owners making significant investments in connect data environments, helping them keep a log and store of this information to answer insurers’ questions.

With the average pre-tax margin for the UK’s five largest contractors at 0.45%[i], it is becoming more pertinent for asset owners to ensure that 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.

This data will not only empower contractors during the construction phase but it will also empower asset owners to make important, data-driven decisions to improve performance during the lifecycle of the asset.

These decisions will not only benefit the commercial property assets themselves but, most importantly, will also ensure that the people living and working in these properties are safe.

[i] Competitive Intelligence, Global Data, 2020.

About the author
Mark Coates leads Bentley System’s strategic industry engagement, keeping a keen eye on the latest industry trends and their impact on the delivery of successful projects. He is a former quantity surveyor with an extensive background in global project delivery. He has worked on numerous infrastructure projects, consulting asset owners and their advisors on technology adoption, focused on attaining better project results while being conscious of time, cost, and quality.



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