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Managing Risky Business: Q2 2020

Managing Risky Business: Q2 2020

In this issue of Managing Risky Business, read about:

  • Liability Insurance and COVID-19: Since the spread of the COVID-19 here in Ontario, we’ve seen a number of lawsuits, which have affected what liability insurers are and aren’t covering. Read about how we’re working with our group to manage the issue
  • Renewals Update: Learn about where we are in the renewals process and what we’ve heard from underwriters on what to expect as well as the next steps.
  • Upcoming Webinar on Common Claims: Learn about our most common property and liability claims and learn from experts on how to mitigate the risks and better control your premiums.
  • Electronic Fund Transfers (EFTs) for Renewals: Due to COVID-19, HSC is moving to EFTs for all renewal payments. Learn about how to set this up with HSC and where to go if you have questions.
  • Fires and Floods During the Pandemic: With more people at home, there’s been an uptick in residential fires. Learn about what types of claims are being logged and some tips on how you can prepare for them.
  • The Liability Claims Picture: Learn about the characteristics of liability claims, how we classify them and what types of claims we’ve seen in our program over the past five years.
  • Checklist for Monthly Premises Safety Inspections: Incorporating safety inspections into your routine operations help mitigate risks to tenant and staff safety. But where do you start? This sample checklist gives you a foundation to build your own.
  • In the News: Read about claims in the media since we last published Managing Risky Business.
  • New Common Room Insurance = Lower Costs and Better Coverage: In early June, HSC’s Common Room Insurance Program switched service providers. While providers may not be using this type of coverage in the immediate term, they may be interested in offering it to event hosts as restrictions around social gatherings ease

Liability Insurance & COVID-19

By Sarah Baker 

Since the spread of the COVID-19 here in Ontario, we’ve seen lawsuits against long-term care homes arguing that providers were negligent in protecting residents because they lacked the proper sanitation and testing protocols.

Liability underwriters have noted this legal activity. HSC liability coverage is underwritten by AXA XL and they have not introduced any pandemic exclusion mid-term. However, this issue has the potential to impact our sector. We are hearing about many pandemic exclusions happening throughout the market on program renewals; the London Free Press reported on the issues encountered by the Addictions and Mental Health Ontario member agencies;  the Ontario Non-Profit Network issued a letter to the Attorney General; and a class action suit has been filed by Canadian businesses against indemnity insurers for failing to cover business interruption claims from the COVID-19 crisis.

It is going to be an incredible challenge for the non-profit sector if these coverage gaps continue. We have brought the issue forward to officials at MMAH earlier this year. We understand that the government is reviewing the issue and it has been escalated appropriately.  We will continue to monitor things closely as they unfold and are supportive of the efforts of ONN.

HSC is working with Marsh to determine what the insurers position will be regarding pandemic/infectious disease exclusions at our November renewal. Towards managing this issue and the broader renewal we are taking the following steps:

  • COVID-19 Survey: On July 15, we emailed clients a Contagious Diseases Survey. The purpose of the survey is to help ensure that we are able to negotiate favourable terms with underwriters for the 2021 term by having a comprehensive overview of the best practices implemented in our sector relating to the pandemic and risk mitigation. Completed surveys are due July 31, 2020. If you have not received the survey by email, contact 
  • Renewals Webinars: HSC CEO, Howie Wong, will be delivering webinars in August to update insurance clients about the upcoming 2021 insurance renewal. The webinar will provide an update on the market as well as information on our preliminary discussions with underwriters. Invitations will be sent to insurance program participants in the coming weeks. If you have any questions, please contact

Discussions are ongoing and we’re working to get a clearer picture in the next couple of weeks.

Sarah Baker is HSC’s Chief Operating Officer and the lead executive on HSC’s Group Insurance Program. 

Renewals Update

By Sarah Baker

In May and June, we held a series of preliminary meetings with property and liability underwriters.

Property underwriters continue to be happy with the state of our program and how we are managing risk and investments in climate resilient infrastructure and through the National Housing Strategy. They see the value of our Claims Fund and have been impressed with how we track and manage claims as well as pursue subrogation opportunities.

I’ve already covered commentary from liability underwriters (above). In both cases, COVID-19 is having an impact. This isn’t only because of claims – though we have had a few catastrophic claims this term. It’s because of the overall economic impacts and uncertainty COVID-19 has had on the insurance industry and their clients globally.

As a result of this, the hard market is continuing, with demand for insurance outstripping supply. Like other programs, we are expecting premium increases, though it’s too early to tell the extent of them. We will be returning to underwriters in August and expect to have a stronger sense at that time.

Webinar: Best Practices and Lessons Learned from Common Insurance Claims

July 22, 2020 | 11:00 to 12:00 p.m. EDT

By Helen Hassard

HSC’s Group Insurance Program sees a number of property and liability claims each year. Incidents involving property claims, such as fires and floods, are disruptive to providers and residents – sometimes requiring relocation for days or months. Incidents involving liability claims, such as slips and falls or harassment cases, can damage your organization’s reputation as a safe place to live or work. In either case, claims often result in higher insurance premiums. And yet many of the most common claims are preventable – through a variety of risk mitigation measures.

This session, led by HSC’s Brian Laur, and featuring representatives from AXA XLRichards Advocacy and FirstOnSite, will review the most common claims in our program, share lessons learned and offer practical tips and tools so you can ensure your residents and buildings are safe.

Helen Hassard is HSC’s Manager of Stakeholder Engagement and is responsible for organizing HSC’s events. 

EFT Payments for Your Insurance

By Shikha Seghal

Due to the ongoing business challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, HSC is transitioning to Electronic Fund Transfers (EFT) for all payments.

As a result, the process for paying for your insurance will be changing. We are asking clients to:

  1. Send us the required authorization form to complete and we will return it with our banking details so you can process this request (the sooner, the better).
  2. Send payment via EFT after you have received your invoice in late September.
  3. Email us at after the bank deposit has been made.

Should you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact HSC’s Finance Department at

Shikha Seghal is HSC’s Senior Financial Accountant and is focused on HSC’s Insurance programs. 

Fires and Floods During the Pandemic

By Brian Laur

According to Ontario’s Fire Marshall, residential cooking fires are up by 65% this year. The Fire Marshall attributes this to COVID-19: greater numbers of people are at home cooking — and smoking — both of which are among the top causes for residential fires. News reports from Sarnia and Sudbury (as well as our own program’s experience) suggest that the phenomenon isn’t just restricted to large cities. In the U.K and the United States, some fires have started because people are attempting to sterilize face masks in microwave ovens.

Managing residents during a fire or a flood is already challenging. It’s even more difficult during a pandemic, when factors like social distancing during evacuations and re-housing residents come into play. In addition, contractors can be less available. Here are a few tips fire expert Michele Farley gave to Canadian Underwriter magazine:

  • Ensure all occupants know what to do in case of emergency;
  • Have a contingency plan to escape from a fire including a pre-arranged meeting place outside;
  • Share safety reminders with residents, including
    • Be alert and in the kitchen while cooking;
    • Keep the smoking outdoors; and
    • Encourage smokers to extinguish cigarette butts safely – disposing of them in an ashtray and not discarding them in planters or throwing them off balconies.

Even though the Spring flood season has passed, floods due to heavy rains, clogged toilets, washing machines, unattended sinks or aging infrastructure still pose a risk. Here again, resident communications and having a contingency plan can help to manage the risk.

In addition, encouraging residents to have tenant insurance (or making it mandatory) can help, since it covers additional living expenses for displaced residents and contributes to the cost of replacing their personal belongings (you can find out more about the HSC Tenant Insurance Program here).

Brian Laur is HSC’s Claims Manager. He is also available to provide training to groups of providers on practical risk management.

The Liability Claims Picture

By Jeffrey Herrle

In our last Managing Risky Business, we took a look at this term’s property claims. Given the issues associated with COVID-19, it’s an opportune time to look at liability claims. Over the past five years, we have averaged just over 120 liability claims per year – not that much less than the 150 to 170 property claims we get.

Housing providers may not be directly responsible for the actions that result in liability claims, but have legal duty of care responsibilities. In our program, these primarily relate to the housing provider as a landlord and an employer. HSC categorizes liability claims as follows:

examples of bodily injury, property damage, organizational loss

The types of claims we’ve seen over the past 5 years are as follows:

claims by frequency chart shows slips and falls have most frequency

Claims costs follow a similar pattern. However, it is worth noting that even though there are comparatively few assault claims, they tend to cost more. In addition due to the litigious nature of liability claims, they tend to take longer to resolve than property claims and costs grow over time:

claims by value chart shows slips and falls have highest value

As you can see, the bulk of these claims and their costs in our program relate to slips/trips and falls.

Our last issue included a number of online resources on mitigating these types of claims. In addition the Monthly Premises Safety Inspection checklist (below) can help. Finally, we are coming to the time of year when snowplow contracts are coming up — so you may wish to refer to our suggested wording to put into snow removal contracts.

Should you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at

Jeffrey Herrle is HSC’s Senior Manager of Strategy & Communications and specializes in analyzing insurance claims data. 

Checklist for Monthly Premises Safety Inspections

By Luke Pallister, Marsh Risk Consulting

Incorporating safety inspections into your routine operations help mitigate risks to tenant and staff safety. But where do you start? Below is a sample checklist covering a variety of areas – including general housekeeping, fire safety and things to watch for in specific areas of your property. These inspections can help you proactively avoid costly liability and property claims by addressing issues when they emerge.

Luke Pallister is the author of the checklist and the Vice President of Property Risk Consulting at Marsh Risk Consulting.

In the News

By Brian Laur

Since my last update, we’ve had 37 new property claims. Here are the ones that have received news coverage.

Claims in the news

June 2020

May 2020

April 2020

March 2020

New Common Room Insurance = Lower Costs & Better Coverage

By Chrysta Collens

In early June, HSC’s Common Room Insurance Program switched service providers. While we recognize that housing provider may not be using this type of coverage in the immediate term, they may be interested in offering it to event hosts as restrictions around social gatherings ease.

The transition to the new service provider comes with several benefits:

  • Less expensive, more coverage: With coverage costs as low as $1.08, the cost for event hosts has gone dramatically down. And coverage has increased from $2M to $5M with a deductible of $500. Because housing providers are automatically added as an additional insured, you’re also covered if there’s an accident and a lawsuit is filed.
  • More types of events covered: The new program covers events on your property that are both indoors and out — including outdoor barbecues and picnics and family celebrations. Costs are based on the risk level of the event.
  • Simple, straightforward administration: We’ve simplified the process for obtaining coverage and issuing certificates. You can issue the insurance on the spot and have direct access to support from the insurance broker.

Chrysta Collens is HSC’s Client Services and Communications Advisor. She recently joined the HSC Insurance team.

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