THURSDAY, DECEMBER 11, 2014
Preventing Costly Liability Claims
The costs and inconveniences of liability claims can be quite extensive. Every year we pay millions of dollars to both settle and defend liability claims that could have been avoided with proper precaution. Please remember that these claims, as well as all others, are costly to all policy holders in the form of increased premiums. Working together, we can help to hold your insurance cost to a minimum. Our experience has shown us that considering the following precautions can help reduce your exposure:
- Maintain all exterior lighting in proper working order. Add additional lighting to help eliminate areas of poor visibility.
- Keep all walkways, parking areas, stairways, and other areas clean and free of debris and moisture, and eliminate any ponding of water.
- Be very cautious about the placement of flowerpots, statuary, and other decorative items on walking surfaces.
- Immediately repair any uneven walking surfaces, or surfaces having significant cracking.
- Continually check hand railings for structural soundness, and for proper attachment to the building. A loose handrail will increase the chance of trip and fall claims.
- Keep stairways in good repair and utilize non-skid strips, and if the steps are painted use non-skid paint.
- Create or follow a mold prevention program, including elimination of water intrusion and prompt repair of any plumbing leaks.
- Keep garage areas and parking lots clean. Many trip and fall claims are paid every year from tenants and/or visitors slipping in oil and grease residue. These areas can be kept clean with minimum of work and expense.
- To help prevent accidental burns, set the hot water heater temperature to between 120ºF and 130ºF.
Preventing Costly Property Claims
Fire has become the most rapidly growing, and one of the most costly property claims in the United States. The byproducts of fire losses are far-reaching, and not often considered. Aside from the direct damage done to property, the economic dislocation and loss of jobs and/or residences can be devastating to a community. Today, arson is known or suspected in over 13% of reported fire losses. It has been estimated that half of all fire insurance premium dollars are paid to policy holders collecting on fire losses attributed to arson! Annual losses in the United due to arson are several billion dollars in, a factor that drives up everyone’s insurance costs. Outside lighting helps to prevent arson, as well as vandalism, theft, and crime.
Other Helpful Property Suggestions
- Check smoke detectors on a semi-annual basis. Replace batteries at no less than their annual intervals. Keep written records of your check showing tenant acknowledgment and battery changes.
- Anytime a tenant fails to return keys upon leaving, door locks should be rey-keyed, or replaced.
- Conduct at least semi-annual inspections of rented premises to reveal potential causes of a loss and any failure by tenants to properly maintain their space.
Fire: A Major Cost to Us All!
Unfortunately, there are no methods that can guarantee 100% safety, but we have identified certain things that you can do to reduce risk considerably:
- Automatic sprinkler systems are tremendous deterrents to loss; especially those connected to a central station alarm system.
- Fire alarm systems can help provide security to your property.
- Never allow the propping open of fire doors. If these doors need to be left open, self-closing devices are available that will close them in the event of a fire.
- Replace all missing or broken windowpanes promptly.
- Where allowed, BBQs should be used in open areas only. Not under any overhangs or coverings.
- Frayed or cracked extension cords need replacing immediately.
- Keep weeds, brush and debris away from the building. Wood piles and other combustible storage can also pose as a hazard.
- Trash dumpsters located near, or in buildings, lead to many fires every year. Dumpsters should be moved away from the building and be kept in an outside enclosure, where possible.
- Any flammable liquid or paint storage should be kept in either a separately fenced area, or in sheds securely locked, and never in direct sunlight.
- Carefully screen prospective employees. Do they have past convictions of arson?
- Practice good maintenance habits, as well-maintained properties are less prone to fires.
- Exercise extreme caution when using candles for any reason.
But Storms Can’t Be Prevented…
Obviously, adverse weather events cannot be prevented, but damage from these events can be avoided or minimized in many cases. Our years of experience have shown us that there are very few buildings that are truly 100% weather tight. A building that with stands a normal rainstorm may have great problems in a wind-driven rainstorm. A poorly maintained building is more susceptible to storm damage than a well maintained one. Even if the building is in good condition, it can be damaged by falling trees, signs, or other objects blown by strong winds. Areas that can be addressed to help prevent losses include the following:
- Regular maintenance is a vital link in preventing loss. While most items must be done in advance, even simple, last-minute precautions can help. An example of this is the replacing of a loose or broken pane of glass.
- Inspect and repair roof surfaces on a regular schedule. Fill cracked seams with asphalt, mastic, or other easily available roofing repair material.
- Repair or replace cracked, rotted, or broken joists and beams.
- Keep painted surfaces adequately maintained. Repair or repaint cracked, chipped, or chalking surfaces.
- Check TV and radio antennas, their supports and any anchors or guy wires. Periodically inspect feeder line penetrations for leakage.
- Patch or replace any torn or pulled seams on canvas awnings.
- Check skylight for tightness.
- Waterproof masonry walls and walkways.
- Properly secure loose wood or siding shingles.
- Check and clear gutters, downspouts, and drains. Be sure all are properly secured.
- Keep stock on skid or pallets.
- Remove or trim weak or overgrown tree branches.
- Anchor, or secure, any objects that could possibly be blown about by high winds, such as patio umbrellas, trash cans, etc.
- In the event of loss, minimize damage by opening doors and windows (where practical) to help speed the drying process. Promptly hire qualified emergency service vendors for water extraction and dry out. Notify your agent or company immediately.
Preventing Costly Damage
Known or hidden water pipe leaks, worn or damaged rain gutters, worn or damaged building roofs, leaky window or roof penetrations, inadequate ventilation, constructions defects, surface or underground water infiltration, and flooding issues can create damage, that if left unchecked, can cause major building structural problems or even health problems with mold issues. Regular maintenance checks can catch problems early so as to minimize damage and claims.
If You Have a Claim…
Sometimes, even with the best efforts, losses will occur. Not all claims are covered, but we endeavor to promptly investigate and resolve each claim on its merits, to promptly and fairly adjust and pay covered claims, and to provide outstanding claim service to every customer every time. Should you suffer a loss or become involved in an accident, there are several key points that will make the process easier to handle, and allow us to serve you better.
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