Your insurers are an essential part of your Net-Zero strategy

Posted: 28th April 2022 Annabel Gray and Alix Bedford, Altair and Zurich Municipal

Specialist housing consultancy Altair in conversation with Zurich Municipals public sector risk experts on reducing risk and maximising resilience – the unintended consequences of net-zero.

There are increasing expectations inside and outside the housing sector, on the requirements to manage organisational climate-related risks effectively. Insurers are working closely with their customers and potential customers’ on their approach to climate-related risk management to help ensure a balanced approach across their portfolios.

Insurers would like to understand and work with housing providers on how they are looking to achieve a net-zero status across their stock and how they plan to reduce their exposure to increasing extreme weather events.

The strong focus in the sector on decarbonisation must be matched by a focus on the fact that efforts to reach net-zero are accompanied by risks that must be appropriately mitigated to avoid unforeseen consequences. Ensuring that decarbonisation activity does not compromise the resilience of stock to insurable perils such as fire and flood is important to insurers and the successful delivery of truly sustainable and resilient communities. Examples of these risk considerations are set out in Figure 1 below.

Figure 1: Single retrofit measures can lead to unintended consequences. Source: LET retrofit guide.

Insurers want to understand the risk profile of net-zero measures and the impact on insurable perils of the products that housing providers are installing. This drives demand for data and specifications on these measures, as technology, materials and modern methods of construction evolve at such a quick pace.

Insurers are also interested in how they are installed and what the maintenance regime will be so they can fully assess the risk attached to them. To fully assess the exposure to these potential risks, insurers may want to see evidence data such as:

  • Design specifications
  • Asset management strategies
  • Security arrangement if the property is to be void
  • Gas and electrical safety certificates
  • Evidence of appropriate testing and commissioning certificates by a qualified contractor

The key piece of advice Zurich Municipal’s Risk Management Team are relaying to their clients is that when designing strategies and mitigation plans to decarbonise or reduce your exposure to climate-related risks, it is increasingly important to speak with your insurers to obtain their early input and buy-in.

Lack of communication with the insurer, or an inability to provide the data requested to support an insurer’s risk assessment process is likely to put the client organisation in a compromising position.  It could result in either a struggle to secure the necessary insurance (e.g. building insurance for a completed scheme), higher premiums or excess or more restrictive terms.

What information can housing associations collate to work together with their insurers to manage these risks and avoid the unintended consequences?

Alix Bedford, Risk Proposition Manager at Zurich Municipal, advises that there are several steps housing providers can take.  It is important to look at where in the lifecycle of a building the risks occur, then ask why it occurs, and what can be done to reduce the exposure.


More and more Zurich Municipal are seeing their housing provider clients tackle these risks proactively. Set out below are some tips you can easily implement:

The sector must be looking early at an understanding of the risks attached to their net-zero and climate resilience plans to avoid unintended or unforeseen consequences.

If there is one message for housing providers to take away: engage early and collaborate with your insurer.


To discuss how to effectively manage your climate-related risks and developed robust mitigation plans contact Annabel Gray – Altair Sustainability Lead,

Zurich Municipal has teams of specialist risk and insurance consultants that cover all strategic and organisational risk aspects and are ready to support customers as they consider their approach to sustainability in a changing built environment.

To discuss any aspect of this article further, or for more information on risk and insurance, contact Alix Bedford at

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