Managing Your Apartment and Condo Loss Prevention Program
Many outside factors can come between you and the safety of your property and residents. An effective apartment and condo loss prevention program can help you manage these factors. Which will save you both time and money. Strong loss prevention programs for residential properties generally contain three components:
- A property management policy
- Loss prevention checklists that address specific risks to your buildings
- Methods for soliciting and responding to unsafe conditions and repairs
However, these programs are considerably less effective without buy-in from your entire business and residents. In fact, when management continuously demonstrates a genuine interest in safety, residents are more likely to follow suit.
Ongoing safety and maintenance initiatives can help keep your costs down and attract new residents. These initiatives must be engrained in your day-to-day operations and consist of more than just daily checks of your property. As such, clear communication of your firm’s policies and procedures are a must and should involve:
- Input from everyone who helped develop your program
- Feedback loops to determine the program’s effectiveness
The better you communicate your apartment and condo loss prevention program, the more likely your residents are to participate. To promote effective communication, ask yourself if you have:
- Shared your safety goals with your residents and employees
- Educated residents on safety best practices and how to report property concerns
- Communicated specific hazards to employees and residents
Handling Repair and Maintenance Requests
When it comes to staying ahead of potential repair and maintenance concerns, your residents are an invaluable asset. While your team should perform regular inspections of your property, your residents can bring problem areas to your attention.
It is in your best interest to provide a formal process your residents can use to submit repair and maintenance requests. Not only does this improve your property management firm’s reputation, but it can also help you prevent major losses.
Submission processes can vary, but usually involve some sort of written or web-based request for the following information:
- Resident’s name
- Unit number
- Phone number
- Date of complaint
- Type of complaint
- Description of complaint
- Special requests
It’s also important to identify who will handle maintenance requests, both minor and severe. While you may be able to take care of simple issues on your own, you should keep a list of contact information for electricians, plumbers and contractors for more complex requests.
Any request you receive must be taken seriously and addressed in a timely fashion. Log all of these requests, documenting key findings and any repairs you make. In addition, having a system in place to prioritize your maintenance requests is critical. Some building concerns, like leaking water, can be more time sensitive than others.
While all requests should be addressed and evaluated on a case-by-case basis, there will be times when you must assess multiple requests at once. In these instances, responding to the most high-priority tasks first can help you limit potential damage to your property.
Even with a comprehensive Apartment and Condo Loss Prevention program, you could still experience accidents. Although you take every precaution necessary to ensure the safety of your residents and the general public, injuries and other accidents may still occur. In the event that an individual is involved in an accident on your property, you must gather key details. Thoroughly reporting and investigating accidents not only helps you address safety concerns as they arise, but also proves useful following a claim.
While the accident investigation process may differ from firm to firm, it’s critical that you:
- Obtain information from the injured individual, including how and where the accident occurred.
- Survey the conditions of the area at the time of the accident, taking photos if possible.
- Determine what equipment, activities or property was involved, noting the condition of these items (preserve the condition of any equipment and property involved in an incident).
- Obtain information from witnesses when available.
- Analyze the information and determine root causes (e.g., worn carpet, faulty handrails or damaged surface in parking lot).
- Implement corrective measures.
Throughout the investigation, clear communication between the accident victim and your property management firm is vital. You will also need to follow up on any and all incidents that occur on your premises and notify residents if safety procedures change.
Building and Safety Code Considerations
Compliance with local laws and nationally recognized consensus standards is one of the major challenges that comes with managing property. Depending on where your property is located, there may be a number of specific requirements you must meet when constructing, repairing or renovating areas of your building. Further complicating the issue, if you own an older property, there may be any number of issues you must address to bring your building up to code. The National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA) provides a variety of consensus standards, which are widely accepted across the United States, to assist in the design, construction and renovation process.
As a property manager, it’s your job to be aware of any relevant laws, particularly as it concerns the safety and well-being of your residents. To learn about any applicable building and safety codes, work with qualified, licensed contractors for all major repairs and renovations. In addition, consider contacting your local government for information regarding property management-related laws.
Collecting Certificates of Insurance
One tedious, yet critical, job of a property manager is ensuring that all vendors and contractors working on their building are equipped with the proper insurance coverage. Specifically, property managers must check that the policies of these individuals cover any relevant risks and include the appropriate limits.
The best way to confirm that the vendors you work with have adequate coverage is by collecting and maintaining certificates of insurance (COIs). A COI is a valuable—yet misunderstood—tool in the insurance industry. COIs are used across a variety of commercial business relationships and essentially serve as proof that a particular party has an insurance policy in effect. Often only a few pages long, COIs are summary documents that indicate the insured party, essential terms and conditions of the insurance policy, policy limits and the policy period.
Property managers must keep diligent records of COIs and request them on an annual basis or at the beginning of every job or contract. Whenever possible, it’s best to keep COIs in a single, digital location for easy tracking, making note of any expiration dates. COIs can easily be faked or altered, so it’s important to ask yourself the following questions when reviewing and managing COIs to avoid common issues:
- Is the COI provided on a proper form?
- Is the company named on the COI the same as the one named in the contract?
- Is the policy issued by a reputable insurer? Is the COI signed by an insurance company or agency representative?
- Are the types and limits of insurance listed on the form the same or greater than those required by you under the contract?
- Are specific policy numbers listed on the COI?
- Are the dates of coverage adequate for the specified work?
- Does the COI indicate any special insurance requirements you have specified?
- Has the provider made any unapproved modifications to the COI?
- Do you require written contracts with every third party you work with, either by annual agreement for all work or by separate agreement for each project?
- Do you have a system in place (e.g., a certificate management system) for tracking expiration dates?
Securing and managing COIs can be complicated, and it’s critical to enlist the help of an experienced insurance broker. Contact GDI Insurance Agency, Inc. today at 209-634-2929 to learn more about collecting and maintaining COIs.
Manage Your Risks With an Apartment and Condo Loss Prevention Program
Managing a property—whether it be an 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—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.
To assess their various 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, apartment and condo loss prevention programs set the standard for how stakeholders maintain and improve the buildings and units they oversee.
You can’t always predict when a major fire, disaster, accident or similar incident will occur. However, with the right loss prevention program, you’ll be properly prepared and can reduce the impact of an incident or even eliminate certain risks altogether.
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!