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Managing Risky Business: Q2 /2024

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Managing Risky Business: Q2 /2024

In this issue of Managing Risky Business, read about:

  • Claims Commentary and Trends – We’re now at the halfway point of our policy term. Learn about the types of claims we’re seeing and how the group is performing relative to previous years.
  • New Online Renewals System Coming Soon – This year, housing providers will be able to complete their renewal applications more quickly and easily.
  • Webinars – Register for our upcoming webinar, Directors and Officers Insurance: Common Claims and Best Practices, and download resources from our Trends in Tenant Dispute Liability Claims webinar.
  • Kitchen Fire Safety – We’re partnering with Pioneering Technology to make their SmartBurners and SmartMicro products more affordable — and for providers to take advantage of our safety element risk credit on their property premium.
  • Aluminum Wiring Survey – A thank you to those who responded and an explanation on why we needed to conduct the survey.
  • New Resources – We have new tip sheets on managing vacant buildings and eBike and mobility scooter safety. Learn about things you should do to mitigate the risk of both.   
  • News on Claims and Other Reports of Interest – Media coverage on claims in the current term. Also, links to two new reports on broader, global risk trends.

Claims Commentary and Trends

Last year was one of the worst years for claims we’ve had for the program. This year, things appear to have improved somewhat. We’ve seen fewer claims so far but still have approximately six months left in the term. Hopefully the remaining half of the Claims Trust Fund will be enough to cover us.

To date, we have incurred $15.2M on 56 claims. As usual, fire leads the way as the most expensive cause of claims in a variety of different categories. The three largest (+$1M) claims we have had so far were also fire-related.   

Putting aside the fire claims for which an underlying cause has yet to be determined, tenant negligence remains a concern since it figures prominently in terms of frequency. Notably, we have seen a shift in the most frequent claims. It used to be that low-cost burst pipes claims were the most frequent. Recently, however, fires have become more common in our program and while remaining the most expensive of claims.

While 27 of the claims we’ve had so far are tenant negligence claims, only nine of the tenants had insurance. We continue to encourage providers to implement and monitor mandatory tenant insurance in their buildings and to establish smoke-free policies. HSC has wording you can insert into your rental agreements to support this. We can also help you monitor HSC tenant policies in your building by notifying you when a policy is cancelled.


New Online Renewals System Coming Soon

As part of our efforts to improve your experience with our group insurance program, HSC is working on introducing a new, online renewals system in partnership with our program broker, Marsh Canada. The system will save time for providers by eliminating the repetitive paperwork providers have needed to do each year.

Features include:

  • A simple, easy-to-use interface that you can use on your computer or mobile device  
  • Updates and changes to location data in a few clicks
  • Less data entry due to automatically populated form fields and adjustments to property values

An email outlining the renewal process is expected shortly. Stay tuned for further details.


Webinars

Upcoming – Directors and Officers Insurance: Common Claims and Best Practices

June 12 1-2 PM

Is your organization taking the adequate precautions to protect your Board of Directors and Officers from liability lawsuits? There is a lot to learn when it comes to ensuring your organization is well equipped to deal with potential D&O claims, which could include accusations of mismanagement, discrimination, or wrongful dismissal. 

In this webinar geared to HSC Insurance clients, we take a closer look at what is covered under our program and outline the reporting process. We will also have insurance and legal experts on hand to run through examples of common scenarios you may encounter and best practices for documenting and reporting potential incidents.

We invite you and any interested Board Members from your organization to join us for this informative session.


Past: Trends in Tenant Dispute Liability Claims

In January, we hosted a webinar on Trends In Tenant Dispute Liability Claims, which focused on dog bites and bullying. The webinar provided an overview of recent trends in liability claims related to tenant disputes and what your obligations are in these types of situations to achieve the best possible outcome.

Stay tuned for information on upcoming webinars by subscribing to our mailing list.


Kitchen Fire Safety

HSC has partnered with Pioneering Technology to help prevent kitchen fires by making stovetop safety elements more affordable for providers.

In Ontario, cooking is the number one cause of residential fires in and the second leading cause of fatal home fires. One study also found that stovetop fire incident rates in multi-unit buildings were more than two times higher than in detached dwellings; and three times higher in community housing than in other residential dwellings.

This is consistent with our group’s experience. Since the start of the 2018-19 term, kitchen fires have been the second most common type of fire we have in our program (30 claims), ranking only slightly behind careless smoking (31) and arson (31).

Given that these fires are generally caused by tenant negligence, and that we are seeing a growing number of vulnerable residents in our buildings, educational campaigns alone may not mitigate the risk.

Physical measures are decidedly more effective. SmartBurner has been used by several American community housing providers (Erie Metropolitan Housing Authority, Worcester Housing Authority and Wilson Housing Authority) and ones here in Ontario with good results.

Because of this, HSC has provided a 2.5% property premium discount to providers with safety elements for more than 10 years. Our partnership with Pioneering brings down the cost of investing in the burners by providing a discount of 20% per stove (4 burners). Pioneering is also offering our group 20% off of its SmartMicro product. In addition to the safety features, the SmartBurners offer other benefits to residents: they are easier to clean and offer a better cooking surface. While they take slightly longer to heat up, they are energy efficient and cook things more evenly.

To obtain the discount, providers should visit the Pioneering website use the following discount codes when you place your order:

HSCSMARTBURNER

HSCSMARTMICRO


Aluminum Wiring Survey

In January, we launched a survey regarding aluminum wiring in the buildings of our group members. The survey was conducted to mitigate the concerns of underwriters regarding this type of wiring, which presents a fire hazard if it is not properly installed or maintained. 

As we noted in our previous issue, this type of wiring was used within a fairly specific time frame (mid-1960s to late 1970s). Survey results indicated that most providers in our program do not have it. However, those that do should have it evaluated by a licensed electrician who is experienced in evaluating and correcting aluminum wiring problems. The electrician should first assess the job and complete a checklist developed by the Electrical Safety Authority and ensure that the wire type checkbox at the top of the list is ticked.

We thank the providers who have completed the survey for their time! We are now in the process of following up with specific providers to wrap up our work on this underwriter request.


New Resources

HSC is pleased to offer two new resources to assist housing providers in their day-to-day work.

Managing Vacant Buildings

Vacant buildings present a significant risk for providers and property managers, particularly those with multiple properties but limited resources.

These buildings tend to be subject to less active management so they may be more vulnerable to freeze and thaw cycles or mould growth. They can also be attractive to trespassers.

This resource focuses on best practices to manage vacant buildings. It includes helpful checklists so you can keep these buildings protected from property and liability risk.

Please note that any buildings that are vacant should be reported to the insurance company so the policy is property endorsed for this change.


EBike and Mobility Scooter Safety

Ebikes and mobility scooters have grown increasingly popular in recent years. While these devices are generally safe, under certain conditions their batteries can explode and set fire, endangering people as well as property. We have seen an increase of these types of claims even within our program.

This tip sheet focuses on the safe storage of these devices and includes links to other resources.


News on Claims and Other Reports of Interest

These are just some of the claims in the current policy term that made the news:

November 2023

Malfunctioning ventilation fan sparks $100K townhouse fire, London

Suspicious fire causes $25,000 damage to east end CityHousing Hamilton unit
Cause: Arson

December 2023

Woman in hospital after two-alarm fire in Toronto highrise apartment
Cause: Arson

Six people displaced by Cecil Street duplex fire in Pembroke
Cause: Careless smoking

Young child found without vital signs in early morning Hamilton fire
Cause: Unknown

Emergency crews respond to fire at Hamilton apartment building
Cause: Careless smoking

Man charged with attempted murder after starting fire at Cambridge home
Cause: Arson

January 2024

Man taken to hospital after fire breaks out at Toronto home
Cause: Careless smoking

Seniors displaced from residence following Burford blaze
Cause: Careless smoking

Brantford family displaced by house fire
Cause: Careless smoking

Windsor firefighters respond to Ouellette Avenue apartment building for 2nd fire in 2 days
Causes: Unknown and Arson

February 2024

Temporary shelter set up for residents in 51 units of Glengarry Ave apartment after fire, Windsor
Cause: Arson

Fire at Larch Street complex displaces 18 tenants, Sudbury
Cause: Careless smoking

One displaced in morning Mackay Street apartment fire, Pembroke
Cause: Electrical

March 2024

Glengarry Avenue fire ‘suspicious’ in nature, damage estimated at $100K, Windsor
Cause: Unknown

April 2024

Arson arrest made after apartment fire in Havelock displaces 18 tenants: OPP, Peterborough

Four people displaced by fire at Waterloo home
Cause: Kitchen/Cooking

No injuries reported in connection with minor fire in Earlton, Timiskaming
Cause: Kitchen/Cooking


Other News

World Economic Forum Global Risks Report

The World Economic Forum (WEF) produces an annual report that examines key risks and issues the global economy is likely to face this year and in the coming years. It is based on an annual survey that takes into account the views of approximately 1,500 leaders across a variety of sectors, including business, academia, civil society and government,

The risk picture this year’s report presents is grim. Experts observe a “deteriorating global outlook” with the top risks related to cyber insecurity; the adverse outcomes of AI; and extreme weather events. The report adds that “the fallout is already affecting billions of lives. Extreme weather, AI-generated mis- and disinformation, a cost-of-living crisis, cyberattacks and socio-political polarization are already upon us.”

That said, there is leaves room for hope, noting that “while the challenge of each [risk] is great, so too is our capacity to respond.”


5 Emerging Fire Risk Management Trends for 2024

This whitepaper, published by the Risk Management Society (RIMS), looks at emerging risks to watch and strategies to navigate rising insurance costs.

While the paper is geared towards risk managers of non-residential properties, some of the trends apply to our sector, including:

  • Continuation of the ‘hard’ market (fewer underwriters but more demand for insurance) and the need to supply evidence that organizations are actively mitigating risk
  • Inflationary pressures of the past two years have resulted in inaccurate valuations due to increased costs of building materials and labour, which will have severe impacts to organizations that are underinsured
  • Data-driven risk management has become a critical factor in how underwriting decisions are made

The paper can be found on the RIMS website. Please note that a (free) RIMS account  is required for access.

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