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Winter maintenance and insurance.

With the fall season almost here, building owners should be reviewing their cold weather checklist to safeguard premises against winter hazards. From an insurance standpoint, it is never the intention of an insurance contract to act as a maintenance contract. An unprotected or deteriorating structure generates claims and nothing drives the price higher for property and casualty insurance than claims frequency, from both a property loss and liability loss standpoint.

To protect property, roof drains, gutters, and downspouts should be cleared of any debris to avoid backup and ponding of water or ice. Plans should be made to remove snow from flat roofs or other structures which might collapse. Check insulation on piping and structures to be certain it will protect against the extreme cold temperatures. All doors, windows, skylights, ventilators, and other openings should be weather tight: cold air could cause sprinkler systems or plumbing pipes to freeze and break; or water could seep or leak into openings and cause interior damage.

The result of ignoring the foregoing type of precautions can be increased insurance premiums. Claims experience will always be a critical factor in determining insurance premiums and related costs. Underwriters request loss information for a period of at least three years. A frequent recurrence of any type of incident or claim, such as water damage will result in higher premiums or higher deductibles. Underwriters, even in our currently depressed pricing cycle, will look to improve the profitability of a risk. Moreover, the damage to a tenants' property provides a constant source of friction between the owner and the occupant, sometimes resulting in litigation.

Prior to cold weather, expedite the completion of any postponed repairs to the heating system. To determine that the entire system is in proper operating condition, it should be examined and deficiencies corrected. Burners, boilers, and flues should be clean. Controls of heating equipment should be tested for proper operation. Boiler or machinery claims are some of the most complex, and costs are escalated when there is a breakdown and rental equipment is required during the heating season until repairs are made.

Make sure sidewalks are as smooth and even as possible; snow removal is much easier and any tripping hazard is reduced. Establish proceedure for ice and snow removal with building staff or independent contractors. Have a supply of salt or sand for the first freeze. Trips, falls and bodily injury claims can be avoided with careful planning and risk control. Make sure the lobby has runners for wet weather and don't be afraid to use them.

These are only some of the precautions which can be taken to secure your building for the winter season. Even with adequate and proper insurance coverage, claims are never enjoyable and they can end up costing more then you bargained for.
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No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Insurance Solutions; advice for building owners
Author:Vel, Carla
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Article Type:Column
Date:Aug 18, 1993
Previous Article:Lease signings in Westchester.
Next Article:Total control via design/build.

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