Written by Jason Hall, Executive Vice President, Pathfinder Insurance Group
As an apartment community owner or manager, you are responsible for maintaining a safe and secure living environment for your residents. However, you also want to avoid unnecessary insurance claims that could impact your future insurability. Striking a balance between these two responsibilities is crucial for effective risk management.
Defining the Threshold for Mandatory Notification
Your insurance policy outlines specific obligations regarding notifying your insurer of any incident or “occurrence” that may result in a claim for “bodily injury” or “property damage.” This includes incidents such as slip and falls, fire damage, or theft.
To determine whether notification is mandatory, you need to assess the likelihood of a claim arising from the incident. Consider the severity of the incident, the potential for significant damages, and whether there is a clear indication of liability.
When to Exercise Discretion
For routine or minor incidents that pose a low risk of a claim, you may exercise discretion and refrain from notifying your insurer. This approach can help maintain a favorable claims history and potentially prevent future premium increases.
Examples of Low-Risk Incidents
Examples of low-risk incidents that may not require immediate notification include:
- Minor slip and falls without significant injuries
- Small repairs or maintenance issues
- Isolated incidents of vandalism or theft with minimal property damage
Prioritizing Resident Safety and Well-being
While exercising discretion is acceptable for low-risk incidents, it is crucial to prioritize resident safety and well-being at all times. If there is any doubt about the potential severity or liability associated with an incident, it is always advisable to err on the side of caution and notify your insurer.
Even if you decide not to notify your insurer for a particular incident, it is important to document the incident thoroughly. Maintain detailed records of the date, time, location, and a brief description of the incident. This documentation can be helpful if a claim arises in the future.
Seeking Professional Guidance
If you have any questions or concerns regarding notification requirements, consult with an attorney specializing in insurance law. They can provide tailored advice based on your specific policy and circumstances.
Remember, the goal is to strike a balance between protecting your residents and maintaining a favorable claims history. By exercising discretion for low-risk incidents and prioritizing safety, you can effectively manage your insurance obligations and safeguard your community’s interests.