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Assaults, Gas Leaks and Premises Liability Claims in Commercial Real Estate



Photo by Rui Magalhães on Unsplash

Assaults, gas leaks and other liability in commercial real estate (CRE) can cause devastating premises liability claims. If you’re considering selling all or part of your real estate portfolio, a spotty loss history can hurt its resale and cause your premiums to explode. Let’s look at some of the top liability exposures CRE owners and managers face and how you can use simple loss prevention techniques to avoid claims and damaging litigation.

Active Assailant and Assault Claims in Premises Liability Claims

Those injured on properties you own or manage can file claims against you for incidents that arise on the premises yet have little to do with the management of the property. An example might be an assault occurring on your premises. According to Bisnow, assailants may land in criminal court; however, they rarely have assets to pursue. The property owner or building manager at the crime scene is the likely defendant in litigation.

As of 2019, almost half of active assailant events, such as mass casualties, occurred at commercial businesses. While early reports found crime decreased recently in the U.S., likely due to social distancing and stay-at-home recommendations, crimes such as domestic violence, sexual assaults and fighting have increased.

One of the simplest ways to protect yourself against premises liability claims and prevent crimes is to improve lighting. Simple changes like improved exterior lighting can help prevent vandalism and other crimes and limit assaults in your CRE portfolio.

While your general liability coverage offers protection against inadequate lighting and other liability claims, it may not protect you adequately if a mass casualty event occurs on your premises. Active shooter or active assailant coverage can provide you with peace of mind. Added coverages like public relations advice after an event can help you keep your company’s reputation intact.

Active assailant coverage premiums are very affordable. Give us a call for more information on this rapidly expanding coverage.

Gas Leaks Plague Habitational Risks

Since about 2014, gas explosions have rocked New York and recently, New Jersey. From illegal gas hookups to aging infrastructure problems, explosions from faulty gas fixtures can have devastating consequences. Don’t scrimp on plumbing costs when overseeing gas delivery system maintenance. Ensure you’re using only plumbers licensed by your respective cities to repair gas lines.

Check your local ordinances for updates regarding gas line repair. Many New York borough administrators are revising their gas maintenance policies.

Slips, Trips and Falls

One of the most common problems in habitational premises maintenance is the need to reduce slips, trips and falls. Sidewalk cracks or displacements, eroded reflective paint on steps and curbs, inadequately illuminated elevation changes – all these issues can cause serious injuries leading to large settlements. Encourage tenant hazard reporting. Be sure to limit access until your managers can schedule speedy repairs to any such hazards.

Plumbing Repairs Can Prevent Expensive Water Damage

Water damage claims cause many losses in commercial habitational properties. According to Water Damage Defense, which supplies water leak detection systems and other devices designed to prevent water damage, the insurance industry pays $2.5 billion annually due to mold and water damage claims. Increasingly, insurance underwriters see a pattern of water damage claims as a reason to limit or decline writing coverage.

Some simple tips can help you limit water damage losses. Zurich Insurance offers water damage prevention tips at this link. For example, ensure you have a licensed plumbing company available that supplies emergency services. Develop a written water damage prevention plan and train to that plan so that all your onsite and offsite managers know how to respond should a water leak occur. Be sure you have needed supplies such as mops, wet/dry vacuums and other critical cleaning supplies readily available. Develop a regular inspection schedule for sprinkler systems, all water pipes, condensate piping, drains and sewer lines.

The Commercial Insurance Market Continues to Harden

Whether your commercial real estate portfolio is mixed use, office, or residential buildings, we place your coverage and we help you better manage your risks.

The commercial insurance market continues to harden. This means premiums are rising and richer coverage and higher limits are becoming less available. We have access to a range of insurers to provide you with more choices when you’re shopping for insurance for your habitational and mixed-use properties. We can custom design coverage packages to protect your CRE properties in today’s more restrictive insurance market.

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