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Managing Risky Business: Q1/2019


In this issue of Managing Risky Business, read about:

  • The First Five Months: A look back at the first few months of our term.
  • Avoid Electrical Fires with our Preventative Maintenance Guide: The electrical systems in your buildings require periodic inspection and maintenance. Are you doing what you need to do?
  • Marijuana Claims? Has marijuana use increased in social housing since its legalization? Find out about the results of our poll from our previous issue and learn about our program’s recent claim experience.
  • Guaranteed Coverage Gives HOPE: We’ve seen a steady stream of housing providers move to HSC’s program. Here’s why that’s the case and why coming together as a group makes sense for everyone.
  • In the News: Claims coverage in the media and stories worth reading on risk management.
  • Update on Bulk Tenant Insurance: We’re working with partners on questions relating to the administration of bulk tenant insurance.
  • From the Mailbag: We are always interested in hearing about your experience of our program. This time we got a letter that made us feel like we are making a difference.


The First Five Months

The start of this term, like last year, has been a bit rocky. We had a spike in claims in January and claims continued higher in February, which has meant that we are sitting in the same place as last year, with 65 claims at the end of March.

Fire and water damage claims lead the way as usual:

The water claims are typical of freeze and thaw cycles of winter: burst pipes were the most common, followed by overflow, leaking roofs, and rain claims. Kitchen fires continue to lead the way among fire claims. Even though we had double the number of water than fire claims, the latter were more costly:

Thankfully, we are finding that providers are adopting risk measures that reduce risks and help contain costs when disasters do occur. For example, Ottawa Community Housing was able to rely on its mandatory tenant insurance policy to deliver temporary living expenses to most residents when it had a major fire in January – with only a small portion of residents not in compliance with the policy requiring emergency shelter from the city.

Hopefully this term, which has come in like a lion, will go out like a lamb! We are happy to support you in your efforts to manage risk in your community and to keep your insurance costs manageable. Need help or advice on this? Email me!


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Reduce the Risk of Electrical Fires with our Preventative Maintenance Guide

This term we had two electrical fires: a very big one in Ottawa and a smaller one in the village of Casselman in Prescott-Russell. Both buildings had their original electrical systems, which were 48 and +35 years old respectively.

As with other building components, electrical systems need preventative maintenance as they get older. But it’s easy to ‘set and forget’ electrical systems because we only notice them when the lights go out.

To help providers with more proactive maintenance, we have a short guide. Luke Pallister, a risk control expert at Marsh, wrote the guide. Luke is very familiar with our program and sector. I encourage you to read it and incorporate its checklists in your maintenance plan to keep your communities safe and minimize your risk.

Download the Guide


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Marijuana Claims?

In our last issue, we conducted an informal poll of readers on whether you’d noticed an increase in marijuana use since legalization in October. An overwhelming 70% answered that it had “remained more or less the same” with just 25% indicating that it had increased.

Our experience to date has been the former: we have yet to see any claims that appear to have involved marijuana. We will, however, continue to monitor this as retail outlets open and marijuana use changes over time. Here’s a tip sheet on cannabis fire safety from the Office of the Fire Marshal.

Do you have a story about managing cannabis use in your building that might be of interest to the group? Email me!



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Guaranteed Coverage Gives HOPE!

HOPE Co-Op in Sudbury and District Municipality of Muskoka recently joined our group.

In late March, we welcomed Cooperative Homes of Prosperity and Equality (HOPE) in Sudbury to our group program, after they were informed by their current, for-profit insurer advised them that due to two claims over the past five years they would not continue to carry them after their policy term ended in June. .

HOPE joins a growing list of housing providers who have turned to our sector program under similar circumstances, including: Tolpuddle Housing Co-Operative (London, 2018); Essex Non-Profit Homes (Windsor, 2018); Melco Community Housing (Windsor, 2017); and Cornwall & Area Housing Corporation (2015). The trend speaks to the increasing ‘hardness’ of the insurance market, as insurers are seeking minimize their risk exposure, recoup losses and make a profit. It also speaks to the perils of the private marketplace for individual providers – while they are able to secure good rates when they don’t make any claims, they find themselves dropped or charged exorbitantly when claims occur.

In December, we also welcomed the District Municipality of Muskoka, who voluntarily joined our program after years with an alternate broker. Their move was not based on the termination of their coverage but because of their support of our group approach.

While we recognize that the private insurance marketplace serves an important function (we rely on private partners for parts of our own program), experience has shown us that its focus on profitability is a challenge when it comes to meeting the needs of our sector. Here at HSC, we believe that we are stronger when we come together as a group and build our own structure, based on our shared, community-oriented values.

Many of the providers in our program have excellent claims histories but share our belief that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. To these members, I would like to extend my thanks and gratitude. These providers help us create a viable program by giving providers with more difficult claims histories the opportunity to recover from catastrophes and improve their management of risk.


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In the News

Claims in the News:

Other Items of Note

If you are really interested in risk management like me, you should take a look at the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report. It provides a comprehensive (but perhaps somewhat bleak) view on the most significant threats to global prosperity in 2019 and over the next 10 years. Not surprisingly, climate change figures heavily and represents a significant property risk, not just for our sector but worldwide. Here’s a minute-long video summary:

The world economy is facing a ‘perfect storm’ in 2019

Populism, trade tensions and social inequality. Read more:

Posted by World Economic Forum on Wednesday, 16 January 2019


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Update on Bulk Tenant Insurance

The implementation of Bulk Tenant Insurance continues to go well at Services and Housing in the Province (SHIP) and Suomi Koti. But over the course of the past few months, we’ve been alerted to the complexities of administering the program in situations where 1) Providers are seeking to recoup the costs of the insurance from residents and 2) The resident group is housed in a number of types of housing (e.g. social housing, private rental sites scattered across a jurisdiction).

Towards addressing these practicalities, we are working with a group of Service Managers on identifying the most efficient, cost-effective ways of administering this program and maximizing its benefits. We will keep you posted on developments as they occur. In the meantime, if you’d like to find out more, email me.

Learn more about the HSC Bulk Tenant Insurance Program


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From the Mailbag

We were pleased to recently get an email from Jane Wahl, General Manager at Eramosa Non-Profit. Eramosa is a 26-unit provider in Wellington County and had a fire back in September. The fire was contained to a single unit but required a claim and restoration work.

Jane had some high praise for Katherine Perrino Smith, our in-house claims specialist:

“This is the first time this [a fire] has happened… we honestly had no experience or knowledge on how to navigate this situation… [Katherine] gave us undivided attention and allowed me to contact [her] any time of the day and informed me on how to proceed…[she] then proceeded to pull the right people together to restore the apartment. I can’t believe how great it looks.”

Thanks for writing Jane! We are happy that you appreciated our work.


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[view previous issues of Managing Risky Business]


Call Me Maybe
One Life
Turn Me On
Glad You Came
Rack City
Stand Behind The Music
Ninjas in Paris
What Makes You Beautiful
The Motto
Wild Ones
Turn Up The Music
Middle Finger
Sorry For Party Rocking
Is Anybody Out There?
Safe and Sound