TRIAGE Application Information

The Application

The application refers to a database of claims and site investigations to provide a statistical probability of both the peril and the likelihood of a claim being valid. To derive values for a ‘typical year’ we have taken a sub-set of a larger sample, ensuring data is included from as many sources as possible to avoid any portfolio bias.

The values have been tempered with the overall industry figures, which change by year and season. For example, there are fewer valid claims in the winter than the summer, and the number of repudiations falls in event years.

The average values have been checked to ensure they are representative of a typical (non-event) year, and then adjusted taking into account the month of discovery. For this reason it is possible the user may return different values for the same postcode.

In addition, we have some industry figures for the claim numbers, expressed as frequency data in the tables. High claims in a sector with non-shrinkable soils would suggest the most likely peril might be an escape of water. If the house was built in the 1950’s, and the damage is to the floor slabs, we might consider sulphate attack.

In a dry year, in a sector with high claims and highly shrinkable soils, the probability of the claim being valid if there is vegetation nearby is greater than 80%. Conversley, the same circumstances in the winter might reduce the value to less than 50% taking account of the low hydraulic conductivity of clay soils.

The weighting has a statistical base, reflecting the difference between valid clay shrinkage claims notified in the summer and winter months, and event and nonevent years. It also takes account of the fact that around 20% of the sectors deliver 80% of the claims and other industry data.


Perils are shown in two categories. The first is the predominant cause in terms of count. The ‘secondary cause’ lists the less common perils, and includes claims for sulphate attack, landslip and heave etc., listed in rank order of their probability. The secondary cause might include ‘escape of water/sulphate attack/ landslip/heave/mining’ or simply ‘other’ to include odd events like subterranean working, sudden collapse etc.

For sulphates and mining, a buffer has been introduced around the sector record as this peril is often related to estates built at or around the same time. Landslip on the other hand is often specific and can include local events related to nearby excavations etc., and although there are notable exceptions, where this is included it relates to a claim record.

To distinguish between the primary and secondary perils we have taken account of the season (‘damage noticed’) and age of construction.

What’s the Point?

Whilst most engineers and adjusters have their own data, it is rarely made available to the claims handling departments in an easy-to-access format. The triage application is designed to help those responsible for handling claims make a better-informed decision, using claims data from a large sample.

Understanding the nature of the peril prior to visiting allows better allocation of resources in busy times and may be a platform for developing a range of skill levels, each targeted for the peril. There may be circumstances where better use can be made of suppliers.

In a sector where there is a greater than 80% probability of the peril being root induced clay shrinkage, the value increases significantly in the summer. This may be a situation where investigations can be booked to coincide with the first visit and particularly if there are trees in the vicinity of damage.

Auditing by insurers is increasing and this might be a useful tool for checking exceptions.

In the open access form, we are hopeful that users will join in and contribute their data to increase the power of the application. A sort of Wikipedia application, where experts from particular areas add their technical data without disclosing anything of a commercially sensitive nature.

This is the ‘first pass’ and comments and criticisms welcome. We will be making changes in response to validated requests and our hope is to continually improve the information available to the industry.

Why Share?

There will be benefits to those we access the application. For example, data will be made available about ‘how many claims were triggered by a house sale’, or ‘are there more repudiations notified by people who have just moved in to their home’.

Anecdotal evidence develops into a sound statistical base for us all to work off.

From a technical point of view, we can identify areas where sulphates, mining, heave and landslip are occurring and feed this information back not only to our claims staff, but quite possibly underwriters.

We hope it will build on the industries knowledge base and by sharing, everyone benefits. Claims handling staff will have easy access to the data.

Why the CRG?

The Clay Research Group already holds a considerable amount of data contributed from across the industry. We have evidenced our commitment to sharing by publishing the output on a regular basis in our newsletter over the last two years. We do not provide a claims handling service to any insurer and remain independent.

Most important, the data is secure. It isn’t distributed to individuals or companies. Anything that is published is shared with participating members. The commercial advantage is that participating members share a sound technical base.

What other services do the CRG offer?

We already offer expert services on complex claims where technical input is required from a selection of academics. Users simply send an E-mail outlining the issues they would like investigated and we put them in touch with a qualified member of the team.

The CRG also offer OSCAR, DataREADER and Soils Interpreter to deliver on-line guidance and modelling solutions.