Insurance Issues

September, 7 2022 Published by London and Area Chapter - By The Board of Directors of Middlesex Standard Condominium Corporation No. 692

Risk Management in a HighRise—MSCC No. 692

From the CCI Review 2022/2023-1 September 2022 issue of the CCI London Chapter

The insurance market continues to be challenging for high rise buildings and in particular for older buildings; it is incumbent upon the board to pursue every course of risk management within their corporation and to share with everyone who own or lease units in the building.

A corporation’s claims history is critical to the insurance renewal coverage process and availability. Updated information relating to building components will be requested by insurers (i.e., roofing replacement, heating, water heaters, electrical and more) so boards must maintain updated history logs that show regular maintenance, communiques to owners and new installations for that purpose.

Increases in insurance premiums and deductibles can create budget woes for every condominium and owner because both have insurance obligations.

What are some of the questions that will be included in an insurance policy renewal?

  • Does your corporation have a process/procedure that owners use to report an emergency?
  • Does your corporation (high-rise) have a 24/7 building manager or superintendent?
  • Do your residents know how to get in touch with the onsite building staff in the event of an emergency?
  • Does your corporation have a preferred contractor list with instructions on when to call in an emergency situation?
  • Is this information provided to all owners/residents?
  • Did you consult with the condominium’s insurance broker when developing a preferred contractor list?
  • Do owners/building staff have a protocol in place for reporting and follow-up after a claim?

Successes in mitigating insurance claims in one community can help the community-at -large. We value the input of condominium boards to assist in spreading their words of wisdom whenever possible.

What is the communication process you use and find most effective to alert the owners about Risk Management in their unit and your building?

An increase in water insurance claims prompted the board to make significant changes in the way we communicate to owners and the information we provide to them about claims, deductibles and the process of risk management. The topic, along with an outline of their own unit responsibilities is reviewed in every AGM package and in every Budget Notice.

How did you assist your Insurance Broker to obtain the best rate and deductible?

The board assisted our Insurance Broker in getting us the best rate possible with a reasonable deductible by creating a list of all the things we are doing regularly to mitigate risk of fire and water. They need to know that the board was seriously taking steps toward risk management.

Reminders of their responsibilities as each scheduled maintenance item comes up are shared with the residents on a month by month basis in our monthly newsletters; bulletins are posted in the building; maintenance items by date are posted on the Condominium’s private website.

Reminders are welcome to owners and ensure a more positive response to risk management from them. We have been doing a lot of these for years so most owners are familiar with the drill We are now coming up on 5 years without an insurance claim, water leak or otherwise. This has been recognized by our Insurance broker.

Insurance companies will from time to time advise a Corporation they are going to attend a building to complete a Loss Prevention Inspection. The consultant does the inspection and notes recommendations to help a Corporation mitigate risk and loss. MSCC692 was inspected last month. We were very pleased with outcome of the inspection: “We are pleased to advise that, at the time of our visit, there were no loss prevention issues noted which required recommendations for improvement and that the current loss prevention measures appear to include practices which adequately protect the hazards associated with the operations at this location. We appreciate your attention to Loss Prevention.”

What are some of the Risk Management events that you promoted in your building?

IT IS IMPORTANT TO HAVE WRITTEN PROCEDURES IN PLACE FOR ALL TYPES OF EMERGENCIES FOR OWNERS TO EXPEDITE THE REPORTING PROCESS AND MITIGATE LOSS. FOR INSTANCE:

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WATER CLAIM PREVENTION

We implemented proactive programs and guidance/reminders to owners in order to safeguard against water leaks and backups in 2017:

Annual regularly scheduled kitchen stack flushing by our plumbing company every summer for the past 5 years; Salliss Plumbing & Heating has confirmed that the “flush” has much less residue than in previous years. They said the pipes were in much better shape. The proof of the stack flushing maintenance is making an impact – there have been no kitchen sink or dishwasher “back-ups”, sludge forming etc. since the program was implemented in July 2017.

  • Note: What are stacks in a condo building and why is stack flushing important? Stacks are vertical lines of pipe that extend from the horizontal building drain under the slab or in the basement up to and through the roof of the building. All of the drains (bathrooms, kitchen and any other water or sewage system) in the building connect to two or more stacks
  • Implementation in 2017 of a grease recycle program. The City of London provides free to any homeowner who wants them, disposable “grease cups”. Our condo maintains a supply of these free containers in our mailroom for all residents to take and use; we advertise them regularly in our monthly Newsletter. These grease cups are to be used for grease, gravies, salad dressings – just about anything yukky that people previously tried to flush down a kitchen sink or toilet. The program has been very well received; we usually go through around 200 grease cups in about 6 weeks. Residents have embraced this program. It helps to keep the pipes clean so the stack flushing is much better.

Note: Free FOG Cups for individuals can be picked up at City of London EnviroDepots and at London Public Library locations; if you want a large number of cups for the building contact Barry Orr at City of London. He is the Sewer Outreach & Control Inspector at the City’s Environmental & Engineering Dept. 519-661-2489 Ext 6306. Email: borr@london.ca. He will deliver right to your building.

  • Toilet replacement. Toilets in our building reached their life expectancy at 10 – 11 years so we began an advertising program to alert people to “replace toilet now”. We explained how they would be responsible for repairs to units below if their old toilet started leaking. Within a few months we saw so many toilets going out the door and nice new ones being installed. We can’t force an owner to replace something like this, but a huge number have replaced and upgraded their toilets. We put an annual reminder in our Newsletters to catch any new owners who still have an old toilet.
  • Furnace maintenance. Many people were not servicing their furnaces and air conditioning units regularly. Again, advertising campaign through Newsletters advised owners to get things serviced to prevent leaks explaining that if their furnace leaked they were responsible for damages to units below. Although owners can book any plumbing & heating company they want, the Corporation did engage one specific company who gave a nicely discounted rate when multiple units booked for the same day. Our Building Manager has a “preferred” list for 2 A/C specialists which we hand out to anyone who asks. Again, we advertise this twice a year to remind people to get their units serviced.
  • Replacement of washing machine hoses with the flexible stainless steel type – advising owners to have the old rubber hoses replaced as many were beginning to reach the end of the road.
  • Kitchen / bathroom sink hoses. We also advised residents to check under their kitchen and bathroom sinks and if they had rubber hoses there to think about getting these all changed also. Many owners have done so.

FIRE PREVENTATION

Fire Inspections and Relationship with our City Fire Inspector:

We of course complete the required Annual Fire Inspection and immediately resolve any noted deficiencies on the report. That is a given.

Our building does not permit owners to change their old smoke detectors; the Corporation absorbs the cost of the units to make sure they are compatible and approved by our Fire Prevention company. Owners contact our Building Manager when an alarm is beeping and the correct replacement detector is installed immediately. If owners were told to go buy their own or install their own, there is risk that the units would not be compatible or correct. We maintain control this way and owners are happy that the Corporation pays.

In 2018, the City of London Fire Department completed a very thorough surprise Audit on our building. The report was detailed and comprehensive and brought to our attention multiple small deficiencies along with two major deficiencies which we were unaware of. The Board worked closely with our Fire Inspector to rectify every single deficiency. The small ones were quick, the two major ones took more time as there were engineering drawings required – but in the end everything was taken care of and we got sign full off from the Fire Department in early 2019. The Board and Building Manager learned a lot from the Inspector who took the time to share his expertise.

In January 2019, the Corporation passed a By-Law to make the building Smoke Free. There is no smoking (of anything) on property, in common elements or in units. “Smoking Units” were grandfathered until the owner sold, currently we have only 7 out of 194 units who are classed as Smoking Units. We no longer have residents flicking cigarette buts off balconies which used to cause at least one fire a year in the dry mulch of the gardens.

In 2019, the Board did a rewrite of the Corporation Rules. In April of 2020 the Rules became effective. The Rules now incorporate much clearer fire prevention requirements. We had our Fire Inspector “approve” the new rules, he was able to assist us in wording, references and understanding so owners would have no questions. We published many of these new components in our Newsletters to ensure compliance.

Here are the enhanced Fire Regulations section of our Rules:

RULES: FIRE REGULATIONS

1. No Owner shall do or permit anything to be done in the Owner’s unit or bring or keep anything therein which will in any way increase the risk of fire or the rate of fire insurance on any building or on property kept therein.

2. No owner shall obstruct or interfere with the rights of other Owners or in any way injure or annoy them or conflict with the laws relating to fire or with the regulations of the Ontario or Municipal Fire Codes.

3. No Owner shall impede / interfere with any insurance policy carried by the Corporation or any Owner or conflict with any of the rules and ordinances of the local health unit or with any municipal by-law or any provincial or federal statue or regulation.

4. No one shall do or permit anything to be done on the common elements which will in any way increase the risk of fire.

5. Owners shall not overload existing electrical circuits and plumbing facilities in their units.

6. No hazardous, combustible or offensive goods, products or materials shall be kept or stored in the units or common elements.

7. No furniture, vases, mobility devices such as motorized scooters or walkers, shoes, small rugs or mats or any other items are permitted to be left in the hallways. Means of egress (escape pathways and exits) must be free of obstructions. This is a requirement under Ontario Fire Code Article 2.7.1.7 (1).

8. Storage Lockers:

a) No hazardous, combustible or offensive goods, products or materials shall be kept or stored in lockers. Examples of toxic or combustible goods include (but are not limited to) oil-based paint, gasoline, propane, aerosol sprays, BBQ tanks etc.

b) The clearance between sprinkler head deflectors and the top of any storage shall not be less than 457 mm (18 inches). Failure to leave this clearance negates the ability of fire sprinklers to perform properly in the event of a fire.

c) Tarps and other types of hanging barriers are not permitted to be placed on walls or doors of lockers. Barriers negate the ability of fire sprinklers to perform in the event of a fire. They also negate the ability of inspection from time to time to ensure items stored are permitted.

d) This is a requirement under the Ontario Fire Code O. Reg. 213/07 as amended. Div. B, Sentence 2.4.1.1. (1) and Reg. 213/07 as amended. Div. B, Article 2.1.2.2.


The Board of Directors of Middlesex Standard Condominium Corporation No. 692 have been amazingly generous to share the success they have had in risk management and no insurance claims since 2017 in their building.

CCI values the input of condominium boards to assist in spreading their words of wisdom whenever possible so we thank the directors for their unmistakeable commitment to ensuring risk management in their building.

We also thank our presenters of a recent seminar for sharing their screen shots included in the article.

Kudos should also go to all of the owners of MSCC #692 for their attention to safety and risk management. The success really is a tribute to the hard work of the entire community.

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