Can drinking water harm us

Warning, polar cold! Tap water damage continues to cause high levels of damage to companies in Germany

First comes the frost, then the pipe burst: tap water still carries high risks for companies in Germany despite preventive measures; it has caused damage to insurers in Germany totaling more than 86 million euros over the past ten years. This is the result of an investigation of 5318 tap water damage in which Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty (AGCS) has been involved with other insurers since 2010. On average, water damage costs around 20,000 euros. In 2020 alone, 375 tap water damage was recorded, mostly as a result of a bursting, leaking or leaking water pipe. The highest individual losses are just under four million euros.

Defective lines are a main cause of structural damage and are also repeatedly complained about in existing buildings. They occur in many types of construction projects and buildings and affect small and large projects alike. Much water damage results from leaks in the pressurized drinking water or extinguishing water systems, which often go unnoticed because the release occurs on weekends or at times when no personnel are present.

These leaks are most costly when the interior work is complete or water-sensitive equipment has been installed before the pipe breaks. In addition to expensive repairs, rework can also lead to project delays. A few years ago, among other things, an incident in a high-rise tower in Frankfurt made headlines, in which water flowed from the ninth floor to the basement and caused extensive damage.

While much damage to existing buildings could be avoided if water pipes and water-bearing fittings were regularly checked and maintained, in construction projects carelessness and lack of monitoring on non-working days are often the cause of damage. If a system is shut down over the weekend or the holidays, but there is still residual water in the pipes, it can freeze at low temperatures and cause the pipes to burst. On New Year's Eve alone, according to a further study by AGCS, over 36 percent of all property insurance losses in the past ten years were due to this cause. The chemical industry was particularly affected.

"We keep seeing damage that occurs on public holidays or weekends when employees are not present as active hazard detectors or are only present to a limited extent"says Manfred Schneider, Regional Head of Risk Consulting Engineering and Construction, AGCS Central & Eastern Europe. Uwe Weber, Regional Head Property Risk Consulting, AGCS Central & Eastern Europe, added: "AGCS also counts the current production and operational shutdowns caused by the coronavirus pandemic among such special operating states."