In this issue of Managing Risky Business, read about:
I am very happy that we have now seen the end of the 2017-2018 term. From a claims standpoint, it was one of the most difficult terms in recent memory. The graphs below tell the story:
As you can see, we had a tough year on two counts: the highest number of claims in the past three years (20 more claims than in 2015) and payouts that will exceed the $12.5M Claims Trust Fund. We also encountered some issues with portfolios that were underinsured as their building valuation had not been updated in some time. You can use our free valuation benchmarking tool to get a sense of whether you are reporting correct values. It will be an exercise we hope to undertake across the province to avoid similar issues moving forward.
Not surprisingly, underwriters were very tentative throughout the renewal process. But that wasn’t just because of us – it was a difficult year for property claims worldwide. If you carry home insurance, you may experience a premium increase in the near future.
In spite of everything, we were able to keep the total property premium increase to 4.75% and to return $1.1M in Property Claims Trust Fund surpluses to providers from the 2013 and 2014 terms. We are appreciative of the long term relationship that we have with our insurers and look forward to a positive 2018 – 2019 insurance term.
I’m pleased to say that we also performed better than alternates in a number of cases and welcome new housing providers to our group, including: Parry Sound Non-Profit, Staanworth Non-Profit, West Carleton Non-Profit, Morley Municipal and Guelph Non-Profit. To our new clients, I say welcome to the group. Your participation makes our group stronger and we look forward to working with you!
So in the end, in spite of a difficult year, we were able to do our job: control your insurance costs by leveraging the power of the group. That said, with cannabis legalization on the horizon and our program’s 2018 claims record to look back at, next year’s negotiations already look like they’re going to be tough. Through our program design and by encouraging the active management of risk, we will continue to work hard to mitigate the hardening market worldwide. And there is good news as well:
We are seeing steady growth in providers that are implementing basic risk measures. While much more can be done (about 40% of the units in the program are reporting mandatory tenant insurance), we are making progress together!
The results of our renewals and lessons learned from last year will drive my work for the year ahead. On my agenda: working with providers and Service Managers so insured values are up-to-date, tracking the impacts of cannabis legalization and encouraging the uptake of bulk tenant insurance.
On October 17, 2018, recreational cannabis became legal. With the change in provincial government, much has changed since my last update: the province is now moving towards a private retail model; municipalities can opt-out of cannabis sales in their jurisdictions up until January 22, 2019; and where people are legally able to consume cannabis has shifted to align with the rules for tobacco (excluding use in vehicles), in conjunction with municipally developed rules.
The alignment with tobacco rules makes things clearer for providers that have smoke-free policies in place. However, there still remains a lot of ambiguity about which the public spaces people can smoke in, since this is still being ironed out at the Service Manager level. Therefore, we encourage housing providers to work with their respective Service Managers towards developing their policies regarding the consumption of cannabis.
Like housing providers, condo boards are trying different approaches to balancing conflicting resident positions. A recent article on the challenges of handling tenants with medical licences also notes that with the legalization of recreational cannabis, property managers should consider reminding residents about safety around smoking on balconies (butts) and stepping up vigilance in common areas where smoking still occurs despite having long been prohibited (e.g. stairwells, hallways). But there are measures that providers can take to manage the risk of fire (see “More smokers stoke litter and fire risk” link below).
Do you have any insights into handling marijuana legalization from a property/risk management perspective? We’d love to hear them. Email me!
While disasters aren’t pleasant to talk about, they can help us get new insights into risk management and lend perspective to the human and economic cost of claims. The following are just some of the stories on claims incidents to the HSC Group Insurance Program reported in the news since my last update:
Elsewhere in the News
A few additional articles of interest: in Cornwall, the fire chief has taken an amusing approach to safety – he’s offering fire tips to the tune of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody!
Conversely, Edmonton’s fire chief is so frustrated by fires caused by negligent smoking that he’s calling on the department’s legal team to pursue charges against irresponsible smokers, believing that educational campaigns are not enough to achieving behavioural change.
A few years ago, we looked at the question of furniture in common areas and the challenges with it. Since then, the City of Toronto has introduced a guideline that establishes criteria for this type of furniture, along with other compliance options. Apparently an updated provincial regulation was in the works before the previous government dissolved, so hopefully this will be revived at some point. We will keep you posted.
I’m pleased to announce that we now have two participants in this new program: Services and Housing in the Province (SHIP) and Suomi Koti. SHIP is Peel Region-based supportive housing organization with clients in 700+ units, a mixture of both provider and privately-owned properties. Suomi Koti is a Thunder Bay seniors’ provider with 60 units on a single site.
I’d like to thank these providers for being the first ones to try out this program and reduce the cost of tenant insurance for residents. I am happy to see that there are several others interested in it. While this program is a great way for all providers to reduce their risk exposure and protect tenants, it is especially well suited to those in our group that have indicated on their application that they require residents to hold tenant insurance and are monitoring policies. Bulk tenant insurance eliminates the administrative burden of managing this by ensuring the building has blanket coverage. Concerned about tenants that want to stay with their own insurer? No problem – they can just opt out! If you have questions please call me.
|Learn more about the HSC Bulk Tenant Insurance Program|
By Barbra Anne Vaspori, Vice President, Marsh Canada Limited
Many housing providers rely on volunteers not only to serve on boards, but also to provide a range of assistance to the community. As they say, “it takes a village!”
Under the Ontario Occupiers’ Liability Act, housing providers have a statutory duty to take all reasonable care that all persons are reasonably safe while on your premises. This duty of care extends to the health and safety of your volunteers, which is similar to the responsibility that you have for your employees. Therefore, from a risk management perspective, when volunteers are working for you we would suggest the following precautions:
While acting on your behalf, volunteers are generally included under the definition of Insured under the Commercial General Liability (CGL) policy and would be protected against third-party claims arising from their actions. But one major difference between employees and volunteers doing work for you (other than the fact that volunteers are not paid for their service) is that most employees have access to no–fault benefits under workers’ compensation/WSIB legislation. WSIB generally does not recognize volunteers as employees under the Act, thus no benefits are available to them in the event of an injury. There are some limited medical expenses under a CGL available for volunteer workers; however, this would not prevent the volunteer from taking legal action against you for any injury and damages sustained.
Your organization can provide some protection to your volunteers to thank them for their services simply and easily by purchasing Volunteer Accident Insurance. This coverage provides specified dollar amounts for accidental death and dismemberment; pays a weekly indemnity if the volunteer is injured and cannot continue to perform their normal daily activities; as well as a number of other benefits for expenses including hospital, training, home and vehicle modification, funeral, etc.
By providing volunteers with access to no-fault benefits, your organization may: be able to assist injured volunteers; avoid civil actions and resulting costs; avoid bad press or damage to your reputation; and help attract and secure volunteers.
AD&D coverage for board members and volunteers is available to all housing providers as an additional coverage.
|Contact Brian for more information about AD&D Coverage|
On July 1, 2018, the Technical Standards and Safety Authority (TSSA) introduced new regulations governing boilers and pressure vessels (tanks) in Ontario.
Previously, a Machinery Breakdown insurer could issue a Certificate of Inspection if they were satisfied that the boiler or pressure vessel could continue to operate and be used safely. Under the new regulations, the owner/operator of the vessel must apply to the TSSA for a certificate themselves and pay a fee.
|Visit the TSSA website for more information on this regulation|
In the past few months, there have been some changes at Marsh Canada on the people front. In August, Marsh Canada’s Paul Speck retired. Paul had worked on our program since its start in the early 2000s. Paul’s sunny disposition made him a pleasure to work with and his experience with our program was invaluable. We will miss him.
Barbra Anne Vaspori has taken over Paul’s responsibilities. Having now worked with her for a few months, I can say that I’m confident that she will serve you with equal care! She comes to us with a rich background in municipal insurance and risk management, having worked for more than 25 years in the field. Barbra brings expertise in delivering individualized risk management seminars and workshops; writing articles on risk management topics (see her first contribution for us above); and serving as an advocate of legislative reform, having participated on review committees to update the Municipal Act.
In August, Stewart Wynne at Marsh also started to serve as our broker representative for the Bulk Tenant Insurance Program. Stewart has worked in the insurance industry since 2012 and has been an active member of his community, previously serving as the Vice Chair of his local neighbourhood association.
I recently discovered that the Smoke-Free Housing Ontario initiative has ended. It was a very helpful resource for providers planning to introduce smoke-free policies. While the website is still up, it is no longer being maintained.
Finally, I was pleased to see some of you at the 2018 ONPHA conference. I did a session entitled “What Can Go Wrong? Mitigating Risk Through Insurance.” Over the past few months I’ve also had the pleasure meeting provider and Service Manager staff in Barrie, Peterborough, St. Thomas and Muskoka. Wellington County and Cornwall are up later in November. I’ll also be going to Hamilton soon, where we’ll be delivering a workshop about asbestos, sponsored by Marsh. If you’re a Service Manager and are interested in bringing providers together for such a workshop in your area, contact me! We have a limited number of workshops we can make available to you.