Elemental and Weather Related Apartment and Condo Risks

Managing a property—whether it be a California apartment, condominium or similar dwelling—can be a challenge, particularly from a risk management standpoint. Even if a property manager only looks after a single space, they face innumerable exposures.  These exposures that can come from a variety of sources and lead to thousands of dollars in damages and loss of income potential in an instant. Today we are going to look at elemental and weather related apartment and condo risks.

To assess their various weather related apartment and condo risks, property managers should implement a loss prevention program. Loss prevention programs are procedures, policies and other steps organizations can implement to reduce the likelihood of an insurance claim or costly incident. In the property management industry, loss prevention programs set the standard for how stakeholders maintain and improve the buildings and units they oversee.

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Download our Loss Prevention Guide for Apartments and Condos

At GDI Insurance Agency, Inc. we want to make sure you are prepared for disasters with a loss prevention program for your apartment building or condo.  This easy to use guide includes multiple Loss Control Checklists, to help reduce your buildings’ risks.  Download it today, or give us a call to find out how we can help! 1-209-634-2929.

You can’t always predict when a major storm or disaster will arrive. However, with the right loss prevention program, you’ll be properly prepared and can reduce the impact of weather related apartment and condo risks.

How To Deal With Water At Your Apartment or Condo

Water is one of the most common causes of property damage. Water damage is not only expensive—it can also create potential health risks. What’s more, an incident in one unit can easily affect other areas of your building, including common areas and other residents’ apartments. Rain can cause weather related apartment and condo risks.

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Water damage is particularly concerning, and its effects can linger long after the initial damage occurs in the form of stains and mold. While water damage is usually associated with flooding, the most common sources of water damage are often overlooked:

  • HVAC systems—Heating, ventilating and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are necessary in maintaining a comfortable space. However, if these systems are not properly maintained, they can cause serious, costly water damage.
  • Water heaters—Water heaters hold and transfer water continuously. When these systems fail, they release water and can cause significant property damage. Over time, deposits accumulate at the bottom of the water heater tank and corrode the tank liner. Moving water can also cause substantial wear and tear on a water heater tank and its piping.
  • Damaged roofing systems—Your building’s roof is part of a complex system of coverings, flashing, metal work and sealants that work together to keep water out. Leaks in your roofing system can lead to rot and mold growth, even damaging surfaces inside the building. Furthermore, severe roof damage can allow water to pool in your building, causing major structural damage.
  • Faulty windows—Windows require routine maintenance to remain watertight. Windows that are improperly sealed can allow water to seep into your building. Keep in mind that a more complex window system may require additional attention to prevent damage.
  • Exterior walls—Exterior walls are designed to shed water; however, they are not built to hold back standing water. As water pushes against a building, it can deteriorate the protective layers, creating an entry point for water. The likelihood of water damage increases whenever landscaping or the grading of exterior soil allows water to drain toward or stand against walls.
  • Freeze-ups—During severe cold spells, sprinkler systems and water pipes can freeze, burst and cause devastating water damage. Equipment that contains or uses water, produces condensation or relies on pneumatic controls is also susceptible to freezing and water bursts.
  • Sewer backups—Sewer backups occur when sewer systems are over capacity or when a blockage is present. The excess water created from blockages can force sewage into buildings through floor drains, toilets and sinks.
  • Household appliances—Any appliance with pipes or other fixtures that feed into a water line has the potential to develop blockages or spring leaks, which can lead to serious flooding if left unchecked. Property managers need to be particularly cautious of refrigerators, dishwashers, washing machines and water heaters, and make sure to install and maintain them properly.
  • Bathroom and kitchen fixtures—Of all the areas in your building, bathrooms and kitchens are the most prone to water incidents. To complicate matters, property managers aren’t always aware of plumbing issues that occur within individual units, making it all the more important to educate residents and perform regular maintenance.
  • Automatic sprinkler systems—Leaks in connection points and damaged sprinkler heads can cause not only property damage, but also damage to tenants’ personal property for which you could be held liable.

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Fires in Apartments and Condos

Unlike with stand-alone homes, fires in apartments and condos can affect multiple residents at once—even displacing hundreds of individuals at a time. Property owners and managers must maintain safe conditions for occupants by accounting for a variety of potential fire hazards. Additionally, property managers need to be aware of any applicable fire codes, ensuring that their property is in compliance and safe for residents.

Earthquakes

Damage caused by earthquakes takes many forms and can be quite extensive. They can seriously damage buildings and the contents within, along with disrupting gas, electric and telephone services. What’s more, equipment, ceilings, partitions, windows and lighting fixtures often shake loose during a quake, creating dangerous conditions for building occupants. Even if your building is not located in a high-risk area, you should still consider the catastrophic possibilities of an earthquake and protect your property accordingly.

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Air Quality

Of all the exposures property managers face, air quality is one of the apartment and condo risks that is often overlooked. As we learn more and more about the prolonged health effects of poor air quality, it’s critical for property managers to take a proactive role in managing sources of pollution. Poor air quality can contribute to minor discomfort or more serious concerns, like chronic illnesses.

However, managing this exposure isn’t so cut and dry, as poor air quality can stem from a variety of sources, including mechanical problems or bad ventilation. In addition, your building’s specific exposures will differ depending on the type of HVAC systems and equipment you utilize. To ensure that the air in your building does not endanger your residents’ health, indoor air quality management is crucial.

Lightning, Rainstorms, Hailstorms and Tornadoes

Lightning, rainstorms, hailstorms and tornadoes are common across the United States. Each one of these weather events creates their own unique exposures—exposures that property managers need to take into consideration:

  • Lightning—While a single lightning strike to a stand-alone home can be incredibly costly, it is even more devastating for apartments, condos and other multiunit structures as they often have more electrical wiring. Complicating the issue, lightning strikes can occur at random.
  • Rain and hail—Equally as damaging as lightning are rainstorms and hailstorms, which impact a number of U.S. regions throughout the year. For property managers, these storms are not only unpredictable, but costly as well. In fact, it doesn’t take much rain to cause property damage, and just 1 centimeter of water from flooding can lead to major losses. In fact, over a 10-year period, the average annual aggregate insured loss from hail was $134 million. For more information on the risks associated with water damage, click here.
  • Tornadoes—Tornadoes are one of nature’s most violent storms, causing fatalities and devastating a neighborhood in mere seconds. A tornado appears as a rotating, funnel-shaped cloud that extends from a thunderstorm to the ground with whirling winds that can reach 300 miles per hour. Damage paths can be in excess of 1 mile wide and 50 miles long.

Snow and Ice

During the winter season, walkways, stairs, driveways, interior roadways and parking lots become slip and trip hazards as snow falls and ice forms. This is not only a safety concern, but it can also be an expensive liability if an accident occurs.

GDI Insurance

California’s Leader in Insurance and Risk Management

As one of the fastest growing agencies in California, GDI Insurance Agency, Inc. is able to provide its clients with the latest and greatest of what the insurance industry has to offer and much, much more.

We are headquartered in Turlock, CA, with locations across the heart of California’s Central Valley and beyond to provide a local feel to the solutions and services we provide our clients. We pride ourselves on exceeding our client’s expectations in every interaction to make sure that our client’s know how much we value and appreciate their business. Contact us today 1-209-634-2929 for your comprehensive habitational insurance quote!

Download our Loss Prevention Guide for Apartments and Condos

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