Friday, November 19, 2010

Make Sure Your Protective Systems Are Operational, or You May Get Hosed

Many policies have an endorsement that is placed on the policy if you claim that you have a protective safeguard i.e. alarm, fire sprinklers, etc. The protective safeguard endorsement is way a company can deny your claim.

For example, a company states on its application that it has a fire suppressant sprinkler system. The owner benefits by having a discount on his policy. Unfortunately, the system broke down and the owner didn't have the time or money to make the repairs. The owner never got around to telling the agent or the insurance company that the system wasn't working.

A few months went by and a tenant left a burning cigarette in a community trash can that started a fire. The owner is relieved that he has insurance for the $150,000 in damages. The insurance company finds that for a number of months the fire suppressant sprinklers were out and to the owners dismay, deny the claim.

The owner now must pay for the repairs and will get no payment for loss of rents.

Even if you don't own a building, this could apply to your office or even your home.
There is a similar endorsement that has to do with theft and burglary alarms.

Is your alarm armed every time you leave your office or house? Are you doing quarterly maintenance on your fire alarm systems? Are fire extinguishers tested? Are batteries replaced?

The company is giving a discount due to your protective safeguards, but if your system isn't operational then your claim could be denied. Make sure to ask your agent if you have this endorsement on your policy.

This is how the actual form on The Hartford policy reads.

We will not pay for loss or damage cause by or resulting from fire, if, prior to the fire, you:

a. Knew of any suspension or impairment of any protective system so described in the property choice - schedule of premises and Coverages and failed to notify us of that fact; or

b. Failed to maintain any protective safeguard so described in the Property Choice - Schedule of Premises and Coverages, and over which you had control, in complete working order.

If part of an Automatic Sprinkler System is shut off due to breakage, leakage, freezing conditions or opening of sprinkler heads, notification to us will not be necessary if you can restore full protection within 48 hours." - Hartford Form PC 40 01 01 09