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Respecting Privacy During CCTV Monitoring

Respecting Privacy During CCTV Monitoring

Respecting Privacy During CCTV Monitoring

Let’s look at ways to respect privacy during CCTV monitoring. Whether you’re managing a commercial or residential property, there will always be concerns about safety and security. While certain responsibilities may fall on your tenants, there is a good chance that there will be areas, such as parking lots, lobbies and similar public spaces, for which you will be responsible. For these situations, you may choose a closed circuit television (CCTV) system not only to catch crimes as they occur, but also to deter them from ever being attempted. However, if you use CCTV equipment, it is extremely important where you choose to install it, as ill-advised camera placement can potentially lead to costly invasion of privacy suits by your tenants or their guests.

Download: Respecting Privacy During CCTV Monitoring (pdf)

Expectation of Privacy During CCTV Monitoring

CCTV cameras are legal to use in public areas because they are just that—public areas. When an individual is in a public area where they can be clearly observed by those around them, they cannot have a reasonable expectation of privacy. However, in areas deemed to be personal spaces, individuals do have a right to expect a certain amount of privacy. Most commonly, private spaces are places like a person’s home or a rented hotel room in which, by law, an individual can expect a certain protection from unwanted intrusions. Since people can expect privacy in their own homes, where you position cameras is extremely important
when dealing with residential properties. This means that cameras should never be installed in living spaces; it also means that cameras installed in public spaces should not be able to monitor events going on inside a person’s residence. For example, this means that a camera placed in a parking lot should not be aimed into a tenant’s window. Even if the window is open, the tenant still has a reasonable expectation of privacy in their own home.

Problems can also arise at commercial properties when it comes to CCTV placement in private spaces that exist in public settings. Any use of CCTV equipment in a tenants’ rented space should be discussed with them during the leasing process. Even though they may be operating a public venture in the space, they still are entitled to a certain amount of privacy. Also, if you provide public restrooms at a facility, those who use them have a reasonable expectation of privacy, so cameras
should not be placed in these areas.

Notify Tenants During CCTV Monitoring

A good way to protect yourself from invasion of privacy claims is to establish procedures that lower the expected amount of privacy. Post signs notifying the use of security cameras on the premises. Many privacy cases involve a discrepancy between the amount of privacy an individual believes they were entitled to and how much they were actually provided with. Proper notification can make it clear as to what expectations they can have for their privacy upon entering an establishment.

Also make sure you notify tenants of the extent of your CCTV monitoring before they sign the lease. Accurately disclosing this information upfront reduces the risk of liability. Since they entered into the lease with a full understanding of the extent of your CCTV use, it will be harder for them to raise objection to it at a later date.

Create a Policy Detailing Rights to Privacy During CCTV Monitoring

Establishing a CCTV policy can also help. The policy should outline the provisions for camera placement and proper camera use. By instituting a policy for CCTV use, camera operators will know what practices are acceptable and which could increase the risk for litigation.

Learn More About Respecting Privacy During CCTV Monitoring

 

Brian Blaston
Partner
Hardenbergh Insurance Group
phone: 856.489.9100 x 139
fax: 856.673.5955
www.hig.net

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Air Quality Management for Commercial Buildings

Air Quality Management for Commercial Buildings

Air Quality Management for Commercial Buildings

Let’s look at air quality management for commercial buildings. The health of your property’s occupants can be jeopardized by poor air quality, and it is your responsibility to provide a healthy indoor environment, whether it is protecting against airborne infections like H1N1 or pollutants from equipment. From mechanical problems like a faulty exhaust fan to the measure of air volume exchanges, there are many factors that are easily overlooked. An Indoor Air Quality Management Plan is a good way to ensure that residents’ health is not endangered by the air in the building.

The plan you design must address the specific needs of each space, and should never be limited to HVAC maintenance. The task should be assigned to one person who is charged with identifying problem locations and staff whose activities might affect the quality of the air.

Download Printable Article (PDF) >>>

Air Quality Management Practices

(1) STUDY THE EXCHANGE RATE

The air volume exchange rate is a factor that property managers must consider. The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) recommends a minimum exchange of ten cubic feet per minute per person in an indoor environment. This rate can be tested by a certified engineer. If your rate is too high, you will be alerted to problems like a faulty variable air volume box.

(2) TAKE STEPS TO IMPROVE YOUR AIR QUALITY MANAGEMENT PLAN

Ensure that you will easily be able to update your plan for any legislative or other changes that affect air quality. Follow these guidelines for creating a plan that is appropriate to your situation:

• Consult the Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA) for advice on the maintenance of air quality if you renovate or add on to your property.

• Schedule routine maintenance of motors, fan belts and filters with certified mechanics. Revisit everything every 90 days.

• Specify filter selection and maintenance. If the property has mixed uses, each occupant should have a separate filter schedule:

• Specify which Minimum Efficiency Rating Value (MERV) is necessary in the filter. The higher the number, the higher the filtration rate.

• In sensitive environments, use a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter.

Design procedures for reacting to complaints by occupants, including those regarding humidity or odors. Air quality professionals may be able to analyze air samples to identify appropriate solutions, which might include dehumidifiers or air scrubbers.

• Verify that all cleaning products comply with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards.

(3) WORK WITH OCCUPANTS

Inform your occupants your air quality plan, and ask for their help in maintaining good air quality. There are steps occupants can take to improve air quality, including the following:

• Refraining from smoking within 25 feet of the building

• Using entryway cleaning systems, such as grills and mats, to reduce the amount of dirt, dust and pollen that enters the building

• In sensitive environments, using ultra-violet lights to kill bacteria circulating in the air

CONTACT US

For more air quality management and loss prevention tips, contact Hardenbergh Insurance Group. Our insurance specialists are available to help you solve your property and casualty issues.

Brian Blaston, Partner
Hardenbergh Insurance Group
phone: 856.489.9100 x 139
fax: 856.673.5955

www.hig.net

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Protect Your Property with Ordinance and Law Insurance

Ordinance and Law InsuranceDo you own an older building or is your building subject to significant building code changes, if it needed to be rebuilt? If so, then you may need Building Ordinance and Law insurance.

Most insurance policies are written to allow a building owner to rebuild to the condition it was in prior to the loss. If an ordinance requires more, such as being brought up to code if it sustains more than 50 percent damage to the entire structure, an owner could be facing significant ou tof-pocket expenses, which may range from slight modifications (installing hard-wired smoke detectors) to vastly more complicated and expensive modifications (installing fire sprinklers). To combat the cost of these projects, building owners can purchase Ordinance and Law Insurance. This protects an owner or association against losses resulting from the enforcement of new laws or ordinances, or changes to existing laws.

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Ordinance and Law Insurance also protects against losses after a disaster. It serves to cover the following losses:

  • Covers losses for rebuilding a portion of a structure when part of it is damaged from a fire.
  • Covers losses when new building codes require that a partially damaged structure be torn down
    and rebuilt, versus repaired after a loss.
  • Covers losses when associations must install improvements that were not part of an existing
    structure before a disaster.

Ordinance and Law Insurance Coverage Details:

  • Demolition Coverage: If the undamaged portion of a structure must be demolished to rebuild the
    entire structure to comply with building codes, this coverage pays for the cost to demolish the
    undamaged part of the structure.
  • Loss of Value: If the undamaged portion of a structure was not technically “damaged” based on
    the verbiage in a typical fire protection policy, then this coverage pays for the loss to rebuild the
    undamaged part of the building.
  • Increased Cost of Construction: Coverage pays for increased expenses for getting a building up to
    code, or to repair a damaged building that currently met building codes prior to a loss.

Ordinance and Law Insurance is Common Sense

Ordinance and Law Insurance is excluded from a typical Property Insurance policy but can be added as an endorsement for a reasonable premium. It is common sense that owners of older structures with greater exposures should purchase this policy to cover “losses” for repairs. To determine if you need this coverage, review your policy and contact Hardenbergh Insurance Group to discuss your exposures. We’re always here to help!

ordinance and law insuranceFor more information, contact:

Brian Blaston
Partner
Hardenbergh Insurance Group
phone: 856.489.9100 x 139
fax: 856.673.5955
email: brianb@hig.net
www.hig.net

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Protect Your Property Against Attractive Nuisance Dangers

attractive-nuisance-dangersThe following article explores how to protect your property against attractive nuisance dangers. Although property owners are generally not responsible for protecting trespassers, in some cases, landowners or those who occupy land under leases can be held responsible for injuries to children that are caused by man-made conditions on the property. Considered attractive nuisances, these might include buildings, construction sites, heavy equipment or even man-made ditches.

Property owners have the power to thwart entrance onto their property and discourage young trespassers from getting hurt. One might use fencing, illustrated signs or other means to prevent children from entering the property and potentially injuring themselves. If you have any reason to believe that children might trespass onto your property or in your facility, treat the problem with the highest gravity. Doing nothing to prevent the entry or injury of trespassers creates a serious financial risk for your company.

Owner Liability in attractive nuisance dangers

As the owner of the property, you are responsible for taking steps to assure that anyone who enters, whether welcome or unwelcome, stays safe from injury. While warning signs are an excellent start, many children may not be able to read them, so it is important to find additional ways of protecting your property.

Ensure that gates are secured and fences are not easily climbed. Adequately protect any conditions,
including pools, ditches, walls or other man-made physical features, that might present a hazard. This may mean covering the pool to avoid accidental drowning, placing sturdy fencing around hazardous areas or placing warning or “No Trespassing” signs. In addition, all safety equipment should be stored and locked at the end of each shift to avoid trespasser tampering.

Premise Liability in attractive nuisance dangers

Property owners are also liable for the maintenance and security that the property needs so that it remains safe for all visitors. This includes the following:

• Fixing cracks or gaps in walkways to avoid slip and fall dangers
• Locking all hazardous tools, equipment and chemicals away from the public
• Ensuring that employees can conduct work duties without the risk of injury
• Hanging flood lights in areas with low visibility
• Hiring security guards for added protection
• Installing rescue equipment, such as ropes and poles, when necessary
• Installing alert devices, such as flashing lights, sirens, alarms and telephones to alert security that
someone has trespassed onto the premises

With regard to attractive nuisance cases, negligence means that the property owner was aware that someone could get hurt on the property and did nothing to prevent it. If you take all necessary precautions to protect individuals that are on your property, you are less likely to be found negligent in a premise liability suit.

For more assistance in protecting your property and your business, contact Hardenbergh Insurance Group today.

brian-blaston-hardenbergBrian Blaston
Commercial Lines – Manager
Hardenbergh Insurance Group
phone: 856.489.9100 x 139
fax: 856.673.5955
www.hig.net

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Additional Coverage for Green Buildings Owners & Tenants

coverage for green buildingsLet’s explore insurance coverages for green buildings. So, you’ve decided to go green by buying or renting a LEED-certified building for your business. In addition to a reputational boost for taking strides to help the environment, you will likely also be saving on heating and electricity costs. The next step is to look at your insurance policies and make sure your investment is protected, and that you are covered for the perils associated with green properties and buildings.

Because going green is a still a relatively new phenomenon, your commercial general liability (CGL) policy probably does not specifically address these risks or indicate whether or not they are covered. It is always best to take a close look at your policy to determine if your plans to go green cause any changes. Learn about additional coverage options for green buyers or renters here.

Download Printable PDF>>>

Upgrading to green buildings

Maybe you want to go green but are not ready or able to fully convert yet. One option that is becoming more common is green upgrade property coverages. These policy additions would allow you to upgrade to a green-certified level in the event of a physical property loss. Update-to-green coverage benefits you because your building has the potential to be even more efficient after a loss, and it puts you at a lower risk of filing construction defect claims in the future because of the rigorous and careful LEED certification process.

Breach of Warrantee/Breach of Contract for Green Buildings

Though a typical CGL policy will cover you for bodily injury, property damage liability and personal injury, breach of warranty and breach of contract are generally excluded. However, when you are a tenant in or an owner of a green-certified building, these are two or the most important kinds of coverages to have. One of the most common claims against property owners or managers is that after construction or years down the road, the green building is not living up to promised standards. The building may not qualify for the LEED certification level promised, or savings on energy may not be as high as marketing and advertising materials guaranteed. You will need additional coverage beyond your CGL policy to protect yourself in this case.

Similarly, problems with tax credits and incentives will require breach of warrantee or breach of contract coverage. If a developer or owner tells you, the prospective buyer or tenant, that they will be able to get a certain number of carbon credits and later cannot deliver, you will need proper coverage to retain the promised return on investment. The amount of necessary coverage will depend on how energy efficient the building is or strives to be. 

Coverage for Non-Performance Investigations of green buildings

If a problem ever arises with your green buildings, you will need to find out who is at fault—the design professional, developer, owner or contractor. Doing so will require extensive testing of the building and its systems to figure out why it is performing under the promised standard. As CGL policies are crafted now, the cost of this investigation may not be covered. CGL policies usually require an occurrence or event—a specific incident where damages happened—to respond. In most green buildings cases, there is no damage to the structure, it just does not perform as efficiently or effectively as the contract specifies.

Therefore, you should consider adding extra protection to your policy that would pay for the cost of finding the at-fault party, which can get extremely expensive if it requires looking into design and construction elements.

New coverages emerging for green buildings

Green buildings are still making their way into the insurance world. There are still grey areas, and insurers are debating whether green buildings add extra perils or reduce risks overall. Some carriers are even beginning to offer discounts for those businesses who decide to become more environmentally responsible. When in doubt about what aspects of your investment  in green buildings are covered, turn to Hardenbergh Insurance Group for guidance. Call (856) 489-9100 today to make us part of your initiative to go green.

Brian Blaston, Partner
Hardenbergh Insurance Group
phone: 856.489.9100 x 139
fax: 856.673.5955
web: www.hig.net

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Commercial Fire-Suppression & Commercial Sprinkler Systems

Retrofitting your property with fire-suppression commercial sprinkler systems—or demanding their addition into your newly built property—might add expenses today but may help your firm achieve significant cost-savings in the long term. Having an up-to-date, effective and well-maintained sprinkler system will help you achieve significantly lower property insurance premiums, reduce losses in the event of a fire, and get your business up and running quicker post-loss. Consider adding sprinkler systems to protect your property—and your bottom line.

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Commercial Sprinkler Systems Basics

commercial sprinkler systems

commercial sprinkler systems

Fire-suppression commercial sprinkler systems are used to control or extinguish fires in the early stages. They help to mitigate the hazards for both building occupants and firefighters by spraying water directly on a fire source as soon as the sensor indicates a certain temperature has been reached. These systems could greatly decrease your losses in the case of a fire.

While many types of commercial sprinkler systems exist, wet pipe and dry pipe are the most common. Wet-pipe sprinkler systems are constantly filled with water, and are triggered when the ambient air temperature reaches a certain degree threshold. Most commercial sprinkler systems in use today are wet-pipe systems.

If your facility has special considerations, it might be important to explore a dry-pipe system. Dry-pipe commercial sprinkler systems are filled with air until activated, at which point the surrounding pressure changes, allowing water to flow through the pipes. Dry-pipe sprinkler systems are used in areas that are susceptible to freezing temperatures, or contain expensive equipment that should not be near water. Even less common systems include deluge, pre-action, foam water and water spray. Do some research to find out which type will best serve your business.

Benefits of Commercial Sprinkler Systems

In considering the installation of commercial sprinkler systems, you are likely concerned about the cost. In reality, however, the cost to you would be much greater if a fire occurs and there are no sprinkler systems present. Sprinkler systems can save you money in many different ways, meaning that in the long run they pay for themselves.

The installation of a commercial sprinkler system in your building is a smart financial decision. It lowers the risk associated with the building, resulting in lower insurance premiums. It can also qualify a building for certain income tax reductions that it would not otherwise qualify for. For example, some of the income tax reductions your building could qualify for are depreciation allowance, interest on a loan and Qualified Rehabilitation Tax Credit. The latter is applicable to noncommercial buildings built prior to 1936 or designated as historical structures. While the installation of commercial sprinkler systems alone doesn’t qualify for a Qualified Rehabilitation Tax Credit, the expenses qualify for the credit as part of a renovation.

Liability is another reason for installing commercial sprinkler systems in your building. Research has shown that the public considers sprinkler systems a “reasonable level of care,” resulting in building owners having to pay out over $1 million per life lost in the event of a fire where a sprinkler system was not present.

Not only do commercial sprinkler systems save you money in the event of a fire—they are also an easy way to ensure that related building codes and laws are being adhered to. In order to be in compliance with the Life Safety Code, all high-rise apartments and office buildings must have either a full, operational sprinkler system or an engineered life safety system.

One big difference between the two is that the engineered life safety system does not pay for itself in the long run. Certain federal legislation applies to this subject as well, such as the Hotel and Motel Fire Safety Act of 1990 and the Americans with Disabilities Act. Keeping yourself in compliance with codes and laws surrounding sprinkler systems will save you potential headaches later on.

An equally important consideration in installing a commercial sprinkler system is tied to business interruption; a majority of companies that have fires never reopen their doors. With sprinkler systems installed, the chance of a fire interrupting business is minimized—commercial sprinkler systems can contain fires in small areas, decreasing the amount of damage and making it possible to more quickly reopen buildings and operations.

Because fires are a relatively common occurrence, it is important to protect yourself and your investments from damage. In addition to the benefits noted above, as a result of installing sprinkler systems in your properties you will also have peace of mind that your properties are safe and well-protected.

brian-blaston-hardenbergBrian Blaston
Commercial Lines – Manager
Hardenbergh Insurance Group
phone: 856.489.9100 x 139
fax: 856.673.5955

www.hig.net

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Shutting Off Utilities During a Disaster

Shutting Off Utilities During a DisasterShutting off utilities during a disaster is important when utilities have been disrupted. There may be a need to turn off certain utilities in order to control additional damage from the disaster. This usually involves turning off one or more of the following: natural gas, water and electricity. Emergency service providers and utility employees will be overwhelmed following the disaster, so it’s important that your family and your neighbors know how and where to control the utilities. Pre-planning and fast actions can save both lives and property.

>>>Download Printable PDF

Shutting Off Natural Gas Utilities During a Disaster

• Natural gas leaks and explosions are responsible for a significant number of fires during and after disasters. It is vital that all household members know how to shut off natural gas. Gas meters can usually be found on the side of the house.
• Because there are different gas shut-off procedures for different gas meter configurations, it is important to contact your local gas company for any guidance on preparations and response regarding gas appliances and gas service to your home.
• When you learn the proper shut-off procedure for your meter, share the information with everyone in your household. Be sure not to actually turn off the gas when practicing the proper gas shut-off procedures.
• If you smell gas or hear a blowing or hissing noise, open a window and get everyone out quickly. Turn off the gas, using the outside main valve, if you can, and call the gas company from a neighbor’s home.
• Caution: If you turn off the gas for any reason, a qualified professional must turn it back on. NEVER attempt to turn the gas back on yourself.

Shutting Off Water Utilities During a Disaster

• Water quickly becomes a precious resource in a disaster situation. It is crucial that all household members learn how to shut off the water at the main house valve.
• Before an emergency happens, locate the shut-off valve for the water line that enters your house and label this valve for easy identification. Make sure all household members know where it is located. You should also make sure the valve can be completely shut off. It may be rusted open or it may only partially close. If so, replace it.
• Cracked lines may pollute the water supply to your house. It is wise to shut off your water until you hear from authorities that it is safe for drinking.
• The water in your hot water heater and toilet tanks may drain due to gravity unless you trap it in your house by shutting off the main house valve. (This is not the street valve in the cement box at the curb; the street valve is extremely difficult to turn and requires a special tool.)

Shutting Off Electrical Utilities During a Disaster

• Electrical sparks could ignite natural gas if it is leaking, and they could also cause other flammable materials to catch fire. It is wise to teach all household members how to shut off the electricity.
• Locate your electrical circuit box. For your safety, always shut off all the individual circuits before shutting off the main circuit. If your house has fuses instead of circuit breakers, keep extra fuses on hand in case one blows during an emergency. Never replace a fuse with one of higher amperage.
• Finally, make sure your circuit breaker or fuse box is properly labeled so you know exactly what switches cut power to which areas of the house.
In addition to insuring your home, Hardenbergh Insurance Group is committed to helping you and your loved ones stay safe when disaster strikes. If you would like more information on developing a family emergency plan or building a disaster supply kit, please contact us at (856) 489-9100 or http://www.hig.net today.

Shutting Off Utilities During a DisasterBrian Blaston
Commercial Lines – Manager
Hardenbergh Insurance Group
phone: 856.489.9100 x 139
fax: 856.673.5955
email: brianb@hig.net

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Workplace Fire Evacuation Tips

Being prepared for a fire evacuation emergency is not something that should only concern you at home—you should also be prepared to evacuate while at work. To be ready for a fire evacuation and to stay safe remember the following:

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Fire Evacuation Preparation


Use the following to tips to prepare yourself for a potential fire evacuation:

fire evacuation• Familiarize yourself with your worksite’s emergency fire evacuation plan.
• Know the pathway to at least two exits from every room or area at work.
• Recognize the sound or signaling method of the fire and evacuation alarms.
• Know who to contact in an emergency and how to contact them.
• Know how many desks or cubicles are between your workstation and nearest exits so you can escape in the dark, if necessary.
• Know where the fire evacuation alarms are located and how to use them.
• Report any damaged or malfunctioning safety systems and backup systems.

Evacuating Safely

In order to evacuate the workplace safely, following the tips below:
• Leave the area quickly but orderly, following the worksite’s emergency evacuation plan.
• Go directly to the nearest fire- and smoke-free stairwell, recognizing that in some circumstances the only available exit route may contain smoke or fire.
• Listen carefully for instructions over the building’s public address system.
• Crawl low, under the smoke, to breathe cleaner air.
• Test doors for heat before opening them by placing the back of your hand against the door to avoid burning your palm and fingers.
• Do not open a hot door; find another exit route. If the door feels cool, brace yourself against it and open it slowly.
• Keep designated fire doors closed to slow the spread of smoke and fire.
• Do not use elevators when evacuating a burning building.
• Report to the meeting place designated in the emergency evacuation plan.
• Do not reenter the building unless directed by authorities.

What to Do if You are Trapped

In the case of a fire, following the strategies below can you help you stay safe:
• Stay calm and take steps to protect yourself.
• Go to a room with an outside window and call for help, if possible.
• Stay where rescuers can see you and wave a light-colored cloth to attract attention.
• Open windows if possible, but be ready to shut them if smoke rushes in.
• Stuff clothing, towels or papers around the cracks in doors to prevent smoke from entering the room

brian-blaston-higBrian Blaston
Commercial Lines – Manager
Hardenbergh Insurance Group
phone: 856.489.9100 x 139
fax: 856.673.5955
www.hig.net

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Do You Have Business Interruption Insurance?

Business Interruption InsuranceAre your business operations covered with business interruption insurance? If a fire causes your business facility to be temporarily unusable, what would you do next? Ideally, you would move to a temporary location while your permanent place of business is being repaired. Yet, traditional Property Insurance does not cover this move or a loss of income when a business must temporarily close.

With Business Interruption Insurance, also referred to as Business Income coverage, this setback can be
minimized by simply adding this coverage to your Property Insurance policy.

What is Included in a Business Interruption Insurance Policy?

The Following is Covered Under a Business Interruption Policy:

• Compensation for lost income if your business has to vacate its premises as a result of disasterrelated damage covered under a Property Insurance policy.

• Covers the profits that would have been earned based on previous financial records, had the disaster not occurred.

• Covers operating expenses, such as utilities, that must be paid even though business temporarily ceased.

• Covers expenses of operating in a temporary location while repairs to the permanent location are completed.

Considerations for Business Interruption Insurance

Here are some things to think about if you’re considering Business Interruption Insurance:

• Business Interruption Insurance cannot be purchased on its own; it must be added to a Property Insurance policy or included in a Business Owner’s Insurance policy.

• Policy limits should be sufficient enough to cover a large amount of time to rebuild the permanent business space. Generally the business must be closed for several days before coverage begins, and it does not pay for those days retroactively.

• Price of coverage depends on the risk of disaster to the premises. This may depend on the business location, nature of the business and how easily the business could function at an alternate location on a temporary basis.

What Is Extra Expense Insurance?

Extra Expense Insurance is also a viable inclusion to cover the amount needed to avoid having to shut down a business while the permanent location is being repaired. This coverage reimburses for expenses that arise on top of normal business expenses, but are not covered by Business Interruption Insurance. Depending on the disaster, Extra Expense Insurance may be sufficient enough to provide financial relief without having to utilize Business Interruption Insurance.

Insurance experts estimate that Business Interruption Insurance is one of the most, if not the most, valuable coverage available, yet business owners often overlook it. Since Property Insurance only covers the cost of physical loss or damage and contents of a business in the event of a disaster, Business Interruption coverage is invaluable in covering the loss of income while the permanent business location is being repaired. Consult Hardenbergh Insurance Group today to learn about all of our business continuity resources.

For more assistance in protecting your property and your business, contact Hardenbergh Insurance Group today.

brian-blaston-hardenbergBrian Blaston
Commercial Lines – Manager
Hardenbergh Insurance Group
phone: 856.489.9100 x 139
fax: 856.673.5955
www.hig.net

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Avoid Lawsuits with Good Tenant Relationships

Good Tenant RelationshipsThis article explains how having good tenant relationships can help you to avoid a lawsuit. Special thanks to Brian Blaston of Hardenbergh Insurance Group for providing this article for Wolf Commercial Real Estate.

Investing the time and money required to maintain and cultivate a positive working relationship with your tenants can be the difference between amicably settling differences and a costly lawsuit. Working on the relationship also creates value by maximizing tenant cooperation with timely rent payments, property upkeep and longer lease terms.

A good tenant relationship  minimizes the likelihood of costly lawsuits and maximizes cooperation with timely rent payments, property upkeep and longer lease terms.

Screening Potential Tenants

Conducting a background check on prospective tenants is a wise way to ensure a mutually successful experience for you and the applicant, and it is an effective risk management tool. Background checks do present some costs, but the risk of not performing the screening on tenants could have more serious financial consequences, resulting in lost income, property damage and litigation costs. Elements of a thorough background check include the following:

  • Criminal history
  • Credit check
  • Previous landlord verification
  • Identity verification
  • Employment verification

Take Care of Your Property

Taking measures to properly maintain the premises sends a powerful message to tenants and can help with good tenant relationships. It proves that you take your role as building manager seriously and encourages them to take pride in the condition of their rented space. Better, it could bolster relationships and lessen the probability that they will take legal action in the event of an incident or dispute. Take these measures to be prepared for
maintenance issues:

  • Establish a procedure for dealing with maintenance requests that guarantees prompt service to tenant requests and maintenance issues.
  • Create, clearly communicate and promptly enforce policies regarding shared spaces.

Security Measures

States and municipalities have differing legislation regarding the duties of building owners and managers. Although you may not be expected to guarantee the safety of tenants, visitors and guests, you must exercise reasonable care to protect them from foreseeable events. What’s more, security measures make tenants feel safe, strengthening your relationship with them and lowering the likelihood of a lawsuit. They can also potentially lower your insurance premiums.

Focus On Customer Service For Good Tenant Relationships

Taking extra steps to make tenants feel welcome helps to create a cooperative relationship that is unlikely to end in legal litigation. Small gestures such as the following can dramatically improve the relationship you have with tenants:

  • Prompt, polite responses to requests
  • Support during moves
  • Clearly outlined policies and swift enforcement for all tenants

Transferring Risk

Even with positive landlord-tenant relationships, there are potential exposures that must be addressed with well-designed property and liability insurance policies.

For more information about vacant property insurance and other strategies to help protect your assets and mitigate loss, contact us today at (856) 489-9100.

For more information, contact:
brian-blaston-hardenbergBrian Blaston
Commercial Lines – Manager

Hardenbergh Insurance Group
phone: 856.489.9100 x 139
fax: 856.673.5955
email: brianb@hig.net

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Commercial Property Fire Coverage

Commercial Property Fire Coverage (PDF)

By Brian Blaston, Hardenbergh Insurance Group
A fire in your workplace can be extremely costly; in addition to the costs associated with fixing the damages, there is also a good chance that your day-to-day business activities will be interrupted during the repairs. To avoid potential expenses related to workplace fires, it is important that you have adequate commercial property fire coverage, which is included as part of most property insurance policies for commercial buildings. However, it is important that you understand your policy to make sure it provides all the commercial property coverage you need and that you aren’t paying too much for premiums.

TYPES OF COVERAGE

There are two primary factors that come into play when dealing with fire protection. Make sure your coverage incorporates them both to make sure you won’t be left holding the bill.

COMMERCIAL PROPERTY: This is the portion of your policy covers the building itself and the equipment in it. When there is a loss to physical assets caused by a fire, this is what pays for replacement and repair costs.

COMMERCIAL CASUALTY: In the aftermath of a fire, there may be a time period where you may not be able to conduct business, often due to a damaged workspace. This part of your policy will cover any loss of revenue during the recovery period of a fire. Coverages will offer different levels of protection based on your policy. Review your situation to ensure that the amount of coverage is comparable to your potential risks.

FIRE SPRINKLER SYSTEM CREDIT

You can greatly reduce your premiums for commercial property fire coverage by installing a sprinkler alarm system. With some insurance providers offering 10 to 60 percent discounts, these systems can quickly pay for themselves. However, to get your full credit, you have to make sure that your system is reviewed regularly.

According to the Insurance Services Office (ISO), many organizations receive partial to no credit on their fire insurance expenses for having a fire sprinkler system in place. This is because the facility and the sprinkler system have not been properly inspected in order to provide full credit. At the request of your insurance company, ISO can inspect your facility and develop an accurate credit on your fire insurance, which will reduce your overhead costs and increase your bottom line.

FIRE SPRINKLER EVALUATION PROCESS

The ISO fire sprinkler evaluation process consists of a review of the following areas:
• The system design is based on the requirements of occupancy
• Adequate water supply
• System installation and components
• System test
• An inspection of building areas without sprinklers
• Building conditions that could affect sprinkler operation

NECESSARY TESTING AND CERTIFICATIONS

The following must be reviewed or completed before you receive an ISO credit:
• Main drain test
• Copy of the Underground and Overhead Piping Hydraulic Test Certificate
• Dry pipe trip test results (applicable to systems with dry pipe valves only)
• Fire pump performance test results (systems with fire pumps only)
• System design criteria evaluation through a review of the sprinkler plans, hydraulic calculations or hydraulic data plaque information.

COUNT ON THE EXPERTS

When it comes to getting the appropriate commercial property fire coverage at a reasonable price, Hardenbergh Insurance Group is here for you. Learn more about fire risk mitigation and how you can receive full credit for your fire sprinkler system by contacting us at (856) 489-9100.

For more information, contact:

commercial-property-fire-coverageBrian Blaston
Commercial Lines – Manager
Hardenbergh Insurance Group
phone: 856.489.9100 x 139
fax: 856.673.5955
www.hig.net

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AVOIDING PREMISE SECURITY LIABILITY

Avoiding Premise Security Liability (PDF)

By Brian Blaston, Hardenbergh Insurance Group – October 30, 2015

Security can be a scary prospect for property managers. While you want to provide your tenants with a safe location to live or work, the level of security you need to provide is not always clear cut, and if it is lacking could potentially make you liable for damages in the event of a crime. Whether you deal in commercial or residential rentals, premise security claims are on the rise and you need to do what you can now to avoid costly litigation in the future.

Increasingly, tenants are looking to receive compensation from their property managers after they fall victim to a crime on leased property, and more and more often courts are ruling in favor of the tenants. While property managers are not responsible for the damages caused by every criminal act, they do have a duty to provide tenants and their guests or customers with reasonable measures of security. When managers fail to do this, they can potentially be held liable for some or all of the damages.

PROVIDING SECURITY
Providing reasonable security measures does not mean that you have to guarantee your tenants 100 percent protection from criminal activity. Even the most elaborate security systems can be beaten by criminals who are properly motivated. The simplest way to avoid liability is to reduce opportunity by eliminating conditions that attracted criminals. Some of the best security features are those that deter criminals from ever attempting to commit a crime. In the event of a premise security claim, it is important to be able to show the court that you have taken the proper steps to eliminate any security concerns that could encourage criminal activity around your property.

DETER CRIMINAL ACTIVITY
Consider the following measures as you try to increase security

• Lighting: It may seem simple, but lighting can have a big impact on site security, as criminals prefer to target places where their actions can be easily concealed by darkness. Make sure entrance ways, walking paths and parking lots are adequately lit.

• Locks: Both commercial and residential tenants need a way to properly secure their own spaces. In residential properties, keyed entry should be in place for common areas as well as individual units. Laundry rooms, exercise facilities and lobbies or entrance ways should have automatic locks that prevent unauthorized access.

After locks are installed, they must be checked regularly to make sure they stay in working order. Also, keep an eye on the condition of doors. If they fall into disrepair, their effectiveness as a method of protection will be weakened.

• Landscaping: A well landscaped property can be an attractive selling point, and if done properly can also improve security. A well-maintained property gives the impression that the premise is under the supervision of attentive management, so show your presence by keeping the grounds well groomed. Additionally, an overgrowth of bushes or trees can create blind spots that can be used to conceal criminal activity. When choosing plants to be placed around windows and doors, pick ones that will remain relatively short, and trim them regularly.

• Security cameras or on-site security personnel: The decision to employ security guards or install security cameras depends on each individual situation. Often times, such measures are not needed to provide the reasonable amount of security required of property managers, but they can be beneficial in situations where a specific security concern may need extra attention. If the property is located in a high-crime area, security cameras or on-site personnel may be necessary.

SET EXPECTATIONS

Security can be a big concern for prospective tenants, and the security features of a property can be the incentive needed to close a deal. It should be noted that you should never promise more security than you can actually provide. If you make an exaggerated claim about the security features of a premise, you raise the standard of security a tenant can reasonably expect, even though you are not actually making the property any safer. If a crime were to occur, you would be at an increased risk for legal action.

Consult with the experts at Hardenbergh Insurance Group for more security strategies.

brian-blaston-hardenbergBrian Blaston
Commercial Lines – Manager
Hardenbergh Insurance Group
Phone: 856.489.9100 x 139
Fax: 856.673.5955
www.hig.net

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