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Textile workshops, chemical factories difficult to insure

Important to esnure fires are not intentional

Image Credit: Abu Dhabi Civil Defence/Gulf News Archives
A fire is doused at a workers’ acccommodation in Musaffah, Abu Dhabi.
Gulf News

Abu Dhabi/Sharjah: Insurance companies believe that ‘high-risk’ facilities such as textile workshops or warehouses where chemicals are stored are more difficult to insure.

“We insure them but only if they are willing to pay a higher premium. Not everybody is willing to pay but the ones who do are the ones that know that this is the right step to take for their business,” said Khulood Al Hafez, an Abu Dhabi-based insurance company owner,

She said an expert is sent to the facility to assess if any safety adjustments need to be made.

“Usually a few fire extinguishers are missing, a smoke detector or fire sprinkler is needed, or garbage needs to be removed. The consultant then prints out a report for us which we give to the facility. We give them some time to make those adjustments before we can take another look at their case and then decide whether they are safe enough for us to insure,” she added.

Residential buildings owned by government parties or banks are most often insured, although not all home owners ask for insurance against fires, Khulood said: “Jewellery stores and shops in malls are insured by us as they are normally regulated by a rigorous set of safety standards,” she said.

Although insurance companies normally pay for the damages of all fire emergencies, if the fire was caused on purpose, insurance companies do not bear the cost.

“Some people try to set their own facilities on fire in the hope of getting the insurance money. So, it is very important for us to make sure that the cause of the fire was not intentional,” Khulood said.

Some insurance companies have internal polices about covering business establishments that they consider high risk to avoid losses.

Insurance companies in Sharjah also avoid giving cover to large warehouses that store flammable materials, and also to chemical factories.

Waleed Abdul Ataif, representative of Al Ain Al Ahli Insurance in Sharjah, said the company does not provide insurance to such facilities as the losses are huge.

“Some companies set fire [to their facilities] intentionally to get the insurance [money],” he said.

He said his company requires that certain conditions are met to provide cover for industrial facilities, He said that insurance is provided to industrial facilities if they are located facing the road or in an industrial area that is not in a remote place.

In his view the number of fires had gone up in Sharjah over the past years and he attributed the reason to lack of safety measures as well as lack of training. “Most of them are intentionally set on fire,” he alleged.

in Sharjah there are very few insurance companies that agree to provide insurance to hazardous facilities, he said

He said the only companies covered are located in industrial areas number 1,2,3,4 and 5. “There are commerical buildings nearby,” he said, implying that the companies would find it difficult to set their companies on fire intentionally.