The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has revealed figures that suggest UK business lost more than GBP2 million every day in 2005 due to fire damage.

According to the insurance trade body, daily UK business loss due to fire topped GBP2 million for the first time in 2005.

The ABI reports that during the year insurers paid out GBP790 million in commercial fire claims, up 60% on 2004. In addition, business interruption claims following fire damage, at GBP220 million, were the highest since 1997. Insurers expect one in every hundred businesses to make a fire related claim this year, making fire the main cost driver for commercial property insurance.

Too many firms are seeing their profits literally going up in smoke, said Jane Milne, the ABI’s head of property insurance.

Fire is increasingly putting jobs and services at risk, threatening the existence of some small businesses. The disruption caused to a firm can be devastating unless good fire safety and business continuity plans are in place. Insurers and the fire service play an important role in supporting fire prevention. But ultimately it is the responsibility of every business.

However the ABI hopes that changes to fire safety legislation in October will place greater emphasis on fire prevention. Companies will now be required to give closer attention to issues such as fire risk assessment, staff responsibility and arson awareness.