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Managing Risky Business: Q3/2013

[Download this update as a PDF]


Property Claims

Property Claims, November 2012 to July 2013, both streams

Property Claims

 
 
Overall, the breakdown of property claims has been relatively consistent for both groups since the beginning of the 2012-13 policy term. Of the 98 property claims made, 72 were from Stream A and 26 were from Stream B.

Liability Claims, November 2012 to July 2013, both streams

Liability Claims

 
 
To date, there have been a total of 68 liability claims with 43 from Stream A and 25 from Stream B. Notably, over 53% of the liability claims were related to slip and falls.
 
For Stream A providers, the majority of these claims occurred during winter months. While winter seems a long way away, there are things providers can do in advance of the season to reduce your risk:

  • Establish procedures to deal with snow and freeze/thaw cycles
  • Require that detailed winter maintenance logs be regularly updated to demonstrate compliance to procedures in the event of a lawsuit
  • Ensure maintenance contracts contain indemnity clauses to reduce exposure to liability
  • Inspect and repair driveways, parking lots and walkways for drainage issues prior to winter to minimize places where water will pool and freeze. Ensure that building runoff flows away from walkways

 

icy-driveway icy-walkway
Parking-lot-Icy-spots1 Parking-lot-icy-spots2
During the winter months you can reduce risk by ensuring that you:

  • Regularly inspect the amount of snow on rooftops, and remove if necessary.  Flat roofs are especially vulnerable to freezing, thawing, and refreezing, which can plug roof drains and add weight
  • Remove snow and ice between parked cars
  • Inspect and manage parking lot snow storage piles to prevent them from creating freeze thaw pools in your lot
  • Ensure that melting snow does not drain onto walkway areas where it can freeze later
  • Display caution signs for slippery conditions
For more winter weather precautions, refer to this handy checklist. You can also visit the Managing Risky Business webpage for updates on risk management issues relevant to housing providers.

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Update on 2013/14 Policy Renewals

As part of HSC’s efforts to secure an insurer for the 2013/14 policy term, I’ve been working with our new CEO, Howie Wong, to change the way social housing is perceived by insurance companies. We’ve met face-to-face with insurers in Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom, who then have an opportunity to competitively bid for the program.

An important part of this process has been educating insurers on what Ontario social housing communities are really like. It’s involved correcting perceptions often based on negative media reports or television programs from south of the border. So we tell them about the small provider in Belleville whose property is so well managed it looks like it did the day it was opened; the larger Ottawa provider recognized for its community pride; we talk about how well-attended our risk management presentations are, the loss control inspections we have been undertaking and how willing providers are to learn and share knowledge about claims that do occur and to adopt measures to mitigate risks.

We are hopeful that better educating insurance companies on the sector will have a positive effect now and in the future. We’re also hopeful that as the Chartered Institute of Housing Canada comes to fruition (being led up by Peterborough Housing CEO Darlene Cook in partnership with HSC) and housing professionals gain formal accreditation through training, we will further improve the sector’s image with insurers.

We’re now wrapping up the process and you should be seeing your quotes from SoHo towards the end of September.

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Recent Claims Affecting HSC Insurance Program Participants

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. Here are just some of the stories on incidents at participant sites reported in the news:

There have also been some recent positive stories on risk management activities in Ontario social housing that I’d like to note and commend:

  • Grey County Housing has made recent changes to improve their risk management after they experienced a series of fires this year – which include going smoke-free, installing heat sensors in buildings, increasing smoke detector inspections and engaging local fire departments in outreach to residents
  • Ottawa Community Housing is taking good measures in preventing fires and protecting residents – by encouraging tenant insurance and educating tenants on fire safety.
  • Northumberland County and the Cochrane District Social Services Administration Board recently introduced smoke-free policies for social housing
  • The community group Low-Income People Involvement of Nipissing was recently recognized with a fire safety award for their work with the local fire department in tackling hoarding

On behalf of HSC, I would like to thank the providers, their staff and our adjusters who go above and beyond the call of duty responding to emergencies and improving their risk management practices to create safer communities.

 
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2012/13 Claims Funds: Status Update

The purpose of the Claims Fund is to pay for smaller, expected property claims and to enable the insurer to focus on larger, uncommon claims. It also enables more targeted risk management support for commonplace claims. And unlike money paid in insurance premiums, any surpluses in Claims Fund contributions return to the group.

Stream A providers (insured values of up to $100M) have made a total of 83 claims from 68 providers since November 2012. The Stream A Claims Fund is fully depleted and the insurer has stepped in to pay claims – currently excess claims amount to just under $1M.

Stream B providers (insured values over $100M) have had a better year so far with 51% of their claims fund being committed to manage claims.  This comprises of 40 claims from 12 providers.

Claims Fund

You can find more about the Claims Fund by contacting HSC’s Director of Insurance Services, Brian Laur, at 1.866.268.4451 ext.314.

 
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Additional Insureds and Your Liability Coverage

Some property managers believe that they are automatically covered under a provider’s policy as an “Additional Insured.” That’s not the case. HSC’s general liability insurance policy provides coverage for “Additional Insureds” provided the following conditions are met:

  • Coverage is provided only with respect to the liability arising out of the housing providers operations
    AND
  • Only where required by written contract with the insured housing provider prior to loss and where a certificate of insurance is issued.

This means that coverage applies to property managers only if they’ve made arrangements with the housing provider and have a certificate issued. The terms and conditions contained in the policy wordings supersede the information provided in the Certificates of Insurance.  Copies of the policy wordings are provided for all insureds in the HSC website (username and password required).  If you have any questions about this, contact me.

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Fire Prevention Week, October 6 to 12, 2013

Ontario’s Fire Prevention Week runs October 6 – 12, 2013. This year’s theme is “Prevent Kitchen Fires and Get Cooking with Fire Safety! Did you know that cooking is the number one cause of residential fires in Ontario?  Visit the Ontario Fire Marshal’s website for more information and resources and check with your local fire department on what they’re doing to support fire safety in your community. The Ontario Association of Children’s Aid Societies also publishes an excellent guide on making homes safer, Fire Safety and Prevention: A Resource Guide for Child Welfare Professionals, with tips and best practices.

 
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Education, Resources and Outreach

Since my last update in early May, I’ve been in Cornwall, Belleville, Ottawa, Hamilton, Wellington, North Bay, Renfrew and London. I’ve been having meetings with housing provider management on the HSC program. But I’ve also been getting together with front-line staff to educate them on practical risk management. It’s been great to meet with people and to understand their concerns, to share insights and to work together on solving problems.

Should you be interested in hosting a session in any of the areas mentioned above, 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. Please feel free to contact me.

In the meantime if you’re looking for helpful resources, I highly recommend the Smoke-Free Housing Ontario website at www.smokefreehousingon.ca. It offers a toolkit for landlords that includes:

 
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