Purpose: To develop a new computational tool for predicting failure probability of structural/mechanical systems subject to random loads, material properties, and geometry. Design/methodology/approach: High dimensional model representation (HDMR) is a general set of quantitative model assessment and analysis tools for capturing the high-dimensional relationships between sets of input and output model variables. It is a very efficient formulation of the system response, if higher order variable correlations are weak and if the response function is dominantly of additive nature, allowing the physical model to be captured by the first few lower order terms. But, if multiplicative nature of the response function is dominant then all right hand side components of HDMR must be used to be able to obtain the best result. However, if HDMR requires all components, which means 2N number of components, to get a desired accuracy, making the method very expensive in practice, then factorized HDMR (FHDMR) can be used. The component functions of FHDMR are determined by using the component functions of HDMR. This paper presents the formulation of FHDMR approximation of a multivariate limit state/performance function, which is dominantly of multiplicative nature. Given that conventional methods for reliability analysis are very computationally demanding, when applied in conjunction with complex finite element models. This study aims to assess how accurately and efficiently HDMR/FHDMR based approximation techniques can capture complex model output uncertainty. As a part of this effort, the efficacy of HDMR, which is recently applied to reliability analysis, is also demonstrated. Response surface is constructed using moving least squares interpolation formula by including constant, first-order and second-order terms of HDMR and FHDMR. Once the response surface form is defined, the failure probability can be obtained by statistical simulation. Findings: Results of five numerical examples involving structural/solid-mechanics/geo-technical engineering problems indicate that the failure probability obtained using FHDMR approximation for the limit state/performance function of dominantly multiplicative in nature, provides significant accuracy when compared with the conventional Monte Carlo method, while requiring fewer original model simulations. Originality/value: This is the first time where application of FHDMR concepts is explored in the field of reliability and system safety. Present computational approach is valuable to the practical modeling and design community, where user often suffers from the curse of dimensionality. © Emerald Group Publishing Limited.