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Managing Risky Business: Q4 2020

Managing Risky Business: Q4 2020

In this issue of Managing Risky Business, read about:

  • Looking Back, Looking Ahead: A retrospective look at the past year and what is ahead for our group and the program
  • Tenant Insurance Premiums Are Changing: Learn the details on why premiums are changing and how this affects OW and ODSP clients in particular
  • Managing Winter Risk: Winter’s here and the holidays are approaching. Are you prepared? Read articles with general maintenance tips; holiday safety tips; and view our sample wording for snow clearing contracts
  • In the News: Media coverage on recent claims, plus interesting stories about emerging risks and managing risk
  • One-Stop Shopping for DSSABs: HSC recently launched an exciting new program for northern Service Managers
  • Bye Bye Brian, Welcome Jenny: As you might have guessed, someone’s retiring and there’s someone new. Read about both of them

Looking Back, Looking Ahead

By Sarah Baker

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As you too have undoubtedly experienced, this year our work was complicated (and dominated) by the COVID-19 pandemic. It informed every aspect of our business – working with the group and those contending with fires, floods and other challenging issues; delivering training and meeting with clients; and program administration. While navigating the uncertainty of the pandemic was (and will continue to be) a challenge, it also enabled us innovate aspects of our business.

Key Highlights

  • No COVID-19 exclusion for Liability and Directors’ & Officers’ Insurance: Thanks to you, our group members, we were able to demonstrate to insurers that providers have been taking measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This was achieved by a survey HSC conducted, which had 100% response rate. In addition, we posted a range of COVID resources on our website to help providers during the pandemic
  • Containing insurance costs: In spite of the continuing hard market and a reduced interest among insurers in underwriting multi-residential and non-profits, HSC was able to keep costs increases at a minimum – in fact outperforming most brokers – thanks to the relationships we’ve developed with underwriters and our efforts at educating them about our business 
  • Education and outreach: In the months following the lockdown, HSC offered several insurance and risk management webinars for our group members. Due to popular demand, we delivered our contingency planning workshop twice. Other topics included: managing cyber risk; best practices and lessons learned from common insurance claims and August renewal updates
  • Making things less complicated and clearer for you: To support the safety of housing provider and HSC staff, we transitioned to electronic payments, like many other service providers. In addition, we made a host of smaller changes to make your experience better: providing a single invoice for core and excess coverages; showing a flat commission percentage rather than different ones for different coverages; bringing claims payments in-house to reduce timelines for payouts; introducing claims notifications so providers know what’s happening with their claim and what to expect next; and overhauling our property and liability claims codes so we can provide you with a better picture on improving our collective performance and controlling premium costs

Claims Highlights, 2019-2020 Term


  • 117 property claims, fewer than average (150-170)
  • Electrical fires moved from being one of the lowest fire claims areas to the second highest at $3.2M
  • Three claims over $1M (2 Stream A, 1 Stream B), exceeding claims fund thresholds
  • Overall property loss ratio remains at 55% (60% is considered high risk by insurance industry)
Pie chart describing claims costs in 2019-2020 term with payouts for fire claims leading the way.
Bar chart of fire claims organized by type and cost, with careless smoking claims as the most expensive.
Bar chart of water claims with burst pipe claims leading the way.

Liability Claims

  • 617 claims over the past 5 years
  • Bodily injury claims make up 80% of the claims volume and almost 90% of the claims values – of which slips, trips & falls make up 60% of claims volume and 60% of the claims values, vastly outpacing all other types of liability claims
  • Slips, trips and falls generally occur in a few places: lobby entrances; stairs; parking lots and exterior walkways; areas with dripping condensation; wet floors; and places where flooring changes in texture or level. There are several proven ways to minimize risk
  • Tenant insurance can reduce a provider’s liability exposure in cases where there is tenant negligence. For example:
    • Dog bites: tenant insurance provides the dog owner with financial ability to pay thereby not making landlords solely liable for the injury
    • Slips, trips and falls: tenant insurance can help if a tenant leaves a toy on a staircase or there is a trampoline on a rear patio that causes an injury or if a tenant is responsible for clearing snow in walkway leading up to townhome

Directors & Officers

  • Consecutive year-over-year growth in claims and claims costs are making this an area for increasing concern for the program and something we will be looking at closely for the year ahead
  • Areas for most claims: Discrimination (38%) and Wrongful Termination (20%)
  • Providers can use HSC’s Directors’ and Officers’ Risk Training Guide

Looking Ahead

  • COVID-19 remains an area of concern since it both affects the global insurance marketplace and could be a source for new claims for our program
  • Educational webinars are in the works for 2021 with topics that will likely include common claims and lessons learned; using new HSC risk management templates, tools and checklists; why correct building valuations matter; occupiers’ liability; and common room insurance
  • We will be examining whether a Self-Insured Retention, which works like the Property Claims Fund, would work managing Directors’ and Officers’ risk and controlling costs
  • We will be continuing to refine your experience of our program, so there’s less paperwork, less complexity and easier for you  

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

Tenant Insurance Premiums Are Changing

By Lisa Kotsopoulos

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Renewal premiums are changing for the HSC Tenant Insurance Program. The change applies to residents with new and renewing policies. The increase will come into effect February 1, 2021. For most residents, the increase will be less than $2/month.

HSC has sought to keep the cost of this program stable. However, this year insurers have required a rate increase. There are two key reasons for this: in recent years the number and cost of claims to the program have steadily grown relative to the premiums that are paid out (its loss ratio has increased); and the hard market for insurance has continued because of COVID-19 claims to the insurance industry. A hard market occurs when demand for insurance outstrips supply.

Key Coverages Option 1Option 2
$10K content$20K content
$2K living expenses$4K living expenses
$500K liability$1M liability
Cost policies renewing February 1, 2021 (taxes & fees included):$221.91/year ($18.49/monthly)$287.99/year ($23.99/monthly)
Cost for policies starting February 1, 2020 (taxes & fees included)$221.91/year (initial payment of $36.99, then 10 payments of $18.49/monthly)$289.99/year  (initial payment of $48.00, then 10 payments of $23.99/monthly)

Caseworkers with OW/ODSP clients that pay for tenant insurance from their shelter allowance should watch for the tenant insurance renewal notice to ensure that the amount deducted is updated. This will start with clients whose insurance expires on January 31, 2021 and will complete with clients whose insurance expires on December 31, 2021

Housing providers that require tenants to carry insurance and those that monitor compliance for risk management credits in HSC’s Group Program or otherwise should be mindful of this change. Housing providers can receive reports from HSC relating to active tenant insurance policies in their buildings by contacting HSC. Brochures with updated prices are now available for order.

For the new rates in other provinces or for further information about this program, please visit the HSC Tenant Insurance Program website.

Lisa Kotsopoulos is HSC’s Manager of Organizational Development and Business Improvement. 

Managing Winter Risks

By Jenny Gloria

Winter is a particularly challenging time of year for housing providers. Winter is a time of year that certain types of risk grow. Below are links to resources with helpful tips for providers to keep in mind this season.

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General Maintenance Resources

The monthly premises inspection checklist we circulated in our last issue also includes winter weather items, as well as general areas for inspection.

Holiday Related Resources

In addition, the Ontario Fire Code prohibits flammables in common area hallways of multi-residential buildings due to their potential to intensify flames. This includes doormats, door decorations wreaths, and decorative flowers. Doormats and decorations should be placed inside apartments.

Snow Removal Contracts

We included this resource in Managing Risky Business last winter but feel it’s worth repeating:

Slip, trips and falls make up a significant portion of our liability claims. This has come up in our renewal meetings with liability underwriters. They have suggested that consistent language in snow removal contracts could have a positive impact on program claims – and have provided us with preferred contractual snow clearing wording. We recommend using this wording in your contracts:


Proof of Liability Insurance is required. The snow removal contractor agrees to purchase and maintain in force, at its own expense, including payment of all deductibles, and for the duration of this contract, the following policy(ies) of insurance, which policy(ies) of insurance shall be in a form acceptable to the Axa XL Insured and be specific and exclusive to this contract, in the amount of TWO MILLION DOLLARS ($2,000,000) per occurrence, with a Certificate of these policies originally signed by an authorized agent of the insurance company issuing the policies and a certified copy of these policies being delivered to Axa XL Insured upon the snow removal contractor’s execution of this contract.

(1)     Commercial General Liability, with
(a) Axa XL Insured added as an additional insured;
(b) Provisions for cross-liability and severability of interest as between the snow removal
contractor and Axa XL Insured;
(c) Not less than THIRTY (30) days’ prior written notice to the Axa XL Insured of any
cancellation, termination, expiry or amendment of or change or revision to the policy.

The snow removal contractor shall indemnify, save harmless and defend Axa XL Insured, its officials, officers, employees and agents against and from all actions, causes of action, interest, claims, demands, costs, damages, expenses including defence costs or loss which Axa XL Insured may bear, suffer, incur, become liable for or be put to by reason of any damage to property or injury or death to any persons by reason of, arising out of, or in connection with the work covered by this contract, or by reason of or arising out of the use of the premises or in connection with the work covered by this contract.

You will note that this wording:

  • Sets out clearly the contractor’s responsibilities and duties
  • Contains indemnity and defence provisions in the provider’s favour
  • Requires the contractor to have the provider added as an additional insured under the contractor’s insurance policy
  • Sets out the type of insurance policies required and minimum limits

Jenny Gloria is HSC’s new Senior Manager of Insurance and Risk and is your new contact for insurance program inquiries, claims and risk advice. 

In the News

By Brian Laur & Chrysta Collens

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Since my last update, we’ve had 44 property claims, incurring a total of $6.3M – with $140,000 from 5 claims since the start of our 2021 term. Here are the ones that have received news coverage.

It’s important to note that the media primarily reports on larger fire claims – and that those relating to other claims areas – water, weather, contamination, for example — tend not to be represented.

In other news, the continuing restrictions associated with COVID-19 has proven a challenge for housing providers in addressing issues like bedbugs – where providers need to balance conflicting resident perspectives on pest control along with the practicalities of accommodating residents while spraying occurs. As we mentioned in our previous issue, COVID has also given rise to an overall increase residential fires due to the number of people that are staying at home.  

It’s fitting that the theme of Fire Safety Week this year was “Serve Up Fire Safety in the Kitchen!” I recommend reading this article on the week, which offers tips you can share with tenants as well as an dramatic video on what happens when you put water on an oil fire.

While the pandemic has occupied our minds as the biggest frontier for risk in recent months, climate change continues to remain a global risk concern. Our premiums continue to offset the losses underwriters have experienced due to global weather events over the past several years. A recent article in Canadian Underwriter focuses on a problem that many providers and Service Managers know too well – it looks at Toronto’s overloaded sewage infrastructure when flash storms occur. The article also points to the Intact Centre of Climate Adaption, a website that offers a number of resources relating to measures to prevent flooding as well as recommendations for municipalities. It’s a website worth browsing. 

Brian Laur is HSC’s (soon to be retiring) Claims Manager.
Chrysta Collens recently joined the HSC Insurance team as HSC Insurance’s Client Services Advisor. 

One-Stop Shopping for DSSABs

By Jenny Gloria

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In September, we were pleased to launch a new program for District Social Services Administration Boards (DSSABs) in Northern Ontario. As you may know, DSSABs are Service Managers in Northern Ontario. In addition to working with housing providers, they are also in charge of administering a range of social services, encompassing income support and employment services, children’s services and in some cases paramedic services across a number of municipalities.

HSC is now offering insurance to these additional service areas. Rest assured, claims in these areas will not affect HSC’s group housing program; however by offering ‘one stop shopping’ it makes things easier for DSSABs.

Jenny Gloria is HSC’s new Senior Manager of Insurance and Risk and is your new contact for insurance program inquiries, claims and risk advice. 

Bye Bye Brian and Welcome Jenny!

By Sarah Baker & Howie Wong

It’s with extremely mixed feelings that we announce that Brian Laur will be fully retiring in January. For the past 8 years, Brian’s been the heart of HSC’s Insurance Program. He joined us from Toronto Community Housing and breathed life into our newly restructured program in 2012, bringing his friendliness, energy and deep knowledge of the realities of the community housing sector to us. Brian recognized that people, and not insurance, are the key to managing risk and being helpful during catastrophes. He put a strong emphasis on educating property managers and housing staff in person and being on hand to help providers navigate the complexities of insurance and repairs after the shock of major losses.

images of brian laur

That said, Brian also understood that the cost of risk, and the cost of premiums, need to be controlled for non-profits with tight finances. He participated in refining the program’s technical design, introducing new services and controlling the costs of existing ones. He was also instrumental in determining which aspects of the program could be managed internally by HSC so as to reduce our reliance on for-profit companies and the swings of the marketplace. We appreciate his contributions in both areas and wish Brian well in his future fishing and biking adventures.   

image of jenny gloria

At the same time, we are thrilled to welcome Jenny Gloria as our new Senior Manager of Insurance and Risk. Jenny’s been in the insurance industry for the past 18 years. Like Brian, Jenny brings a risk management lens to our program. She also has considerable experience with property, casualty, Errors & Omissions, cyber and Directors’ and Officers’ coverages. She comes to us from Marsh Canada, having served as a Vice-President of its Risk Management Client Practice for Retail, Industrial and Media; in this practice Jenny worked with clients to identify and put in place solutions to mitigate their risk. She also has experience in improving the efficiency processes, a vital skill as we continue an internal process review for our group program to make it more user friendly. We are confident that you will enjoy working with Jenny and will appreciate her excellent customer service and detail orientation as we begin a new chapter in the group program. You can contact Jenny at  

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