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Managing Risky Business: Q1/2014

[Download this update as a PDF]


New Benchmarking Information from Insurance Renewals

I thought you might be interested to see some of the data collected in the insurance renewal applications that we received this year.

For instance 91% of all social housing buildings in your insurance program are located in areas considered by underwriters to have quality emergency fire service coverage. This means locations are usually located near municipal water supply for firefighting, have local fire prevention programs and first responders have good emergency communications. Others are situated in more remote and isolated locations.

Fire Protection

Town Grade is the term used to describe municipal fire protection and is a premium allocation factor. In this case, 1 is good, 10 is not so good.


Non-Smoking Buildings

  In addition to health issues smoking represents a significant risk factor. Careless smoking caused 21% of our program fires last year and caused $2M in damage and is suspected as the cause of a fatal December 2013 fire. In our insurance applications we now ask providers to identify whether smoking is permitted in their buildings.We now know that 13.25% of our locations are considered non-smoking buildings. Non-smoking is now a factor in our premium allocations.

Careless/unattended cooking remains the number one fire cause at 38%. Tenant education (watch what you cook posters & seminars) in partnership with your local fire department or the installation of systems like Safe-T Elements, which are offered by ONPHA’s Best Deals Program and Co-Op Cost Cutters, can help in reducing the risk of these fires.

This chart shows the types of fires our program experienced this year.

We focus on claim activity but must keep things in perspective. Considering that we have 167,000 housing units insured, adjusters only opened 163 property claims this year and that is not a high frequency.


Compulsory Tenant Insurance Programs

We track tenant insurance in two ways and both are variables that we include in calculating the premium.

We now know that 21.45% of our buildings have mandatory tenant insurance programs in place.

We also now know that for tenants in the buildings that have mandatory tenant insurance 6% must provide evidence to their landlord.

Requiring residents to have insurance and monitoring coverage are recognized in our premium allocation model because our underwriters understand the benefits. Non-smoking and tenant insurance support better quality of life for residents.



Renewal data is benchmarked and insurers will be monitoring the numbers looking for improvements next year as an indicator of our shared commitment to Risk Management.

If you would like to add Risk Management as a topic in any of your local provider meetings or are seeking guidance on implementing mandatory tenant insurance or smoke-free policy in your buildings, I would be pleased to assist you.
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Building Valuation Service

When you buy property insurance you’re required to provide current building values so that insurers know how much they may be expected to pay in a large claim and to calculate the insurance premium based on that.  Some housing providers have difficulty in determining proper values and have asked for assistance.

To assist providers in avoiding this situation, HSC has partnered with Marsh Canada to provide an affordable, desktop property valuation service to help determine insurance replacement cost. At a cost of $500 plus tax per building, this service efficiently provides housing providers with:

  • An estimate of current property values for buildings
  • Methodologies and reviews by valuation professionals which are acceptable to underwriters

This valuation process complements our standard property loss control inspections and is simple to complete:

  1. Contact me to send you a property valuation package ( or 1.866.268.4451 x.324).
  2. Have your property manager or superintendent complete the forms in the package for each building. If you have similar buildings (e.g. townhouses, block of identical apartments) assess one and use that to benchmark the rest. Experts at Marsh can also help your organization fill out the forms and answer any questions.
  3. Email the completed package back to me.
  4. HSC will issue a report & invoice for you typically within 3-weeks.

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Recent Incidents Affecting HSC Insurance Program Participants

When incidents occur they are often reported in the local media. Sharing these stories can help us get new insights into risk management and lend perspective to the human and economic cost of claims. Here are just some of the stories on incidents at participant sites reported in the news:

I was pleased to recently read about Ottawa Community Housing’s decision to implement a no-smoking policy in its buildings starting in June.  OCH is also moving to require new tenants to provide evidence of tenant insurance. OCH will be the largest housing provider in Ontario to go smoke-free and is modeling real leadership in the sector by taking these steps. Well done!

I was also pleased to learn about the donation of 300 carbon monoxide detectors to the West Parry Sound fire department (100 of which are going to area social housing units), by John Gignac. Gignac started the Hawkins-Gignac Foundation for CO Education four years ago on the first anniversary of the carbon monoxide death of his niece and her family in their Woodstock home. The Province recently passed the Hawkins-Gignac Act to require carbon monoxide detectors in all homes.

I also read recently about how Thunder Bay District Social Services Administration Board is working with local city councilors on health and safety concerns associated with resident pets – an area of interest for many housing providers. It’s worth noting that towards addressing this issue, Edmonton’s Capital Region Housing Corporation, has developed a number of rules and regulations for resident pet owners, including requiring pet owners to obtain tenant insurance to cover any liability exposure.

If you’re working on a way to control risks that might be applicable to other providers, I’d like to hear from you! Please feel free to contact me.
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Training & Education

Did You Know?

Providers in HSC’s Group Insurance program (including those who pay the administration fee) have access to:

In the past month we have participated in regional housing meetings in Halton Hills and London Essex and next month I look forward to a joint Nipissing/Sudbury meeting.Our adjusters ClaimsPro are committed to this insurance program and we gratefully acknowledge their financial support directed to our risk management work. We use these funds to travel, meet with staff and engage in risk management talks. Should you be interested in hosting such a session or to arrange for the custom delivery of HSC training in loss prevention or mould and asbestos remediation, I’d be more than happy to arrange it.

In addition, there are other educational opportunities related to risk management:

  • This past fall, HSC launched AMC Safety Awareness, a new online course for housing provider board members, in partnership with the Public Services Health and Safety Association. This workshop helps leaders address organizational health and safety by providing relevant information and tools. And because it’s online, board members can proceed at their own pace and access the training anywhere there’s an internet connection. To find out more and register for AMC Safety Awareness, visit the course page or contact HSC’s training coordinator, Joanna Gage
  • With the Chartered Institute of Housing Canada (CIH Canada) now launched, it’s offering a range of courses in housing management that support effective risk management. Visit to find out more

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