You have inherited an apartment building from your family. You often forget or neglect to continually provide upgrades to your investment. Whether it be an electrical upgrade, heating and/or air conditioning upgrade, plumbing upgrade, and/or roofing upgrade. While the initial expense can be a significant one, you will receive benefits from these upgrades. Here are a few of the benefits to you:
–More insurance carrier options with competitive premiums
–Peace of mind for being a property owner and to your tenant.
Description of operations: Apartments are residential structures built to provide living accommodations for multiple individuals or families through a rental agreement called a lease. Apartment buildings can be one story or multi-story, include two through dozens of living units, and may provide services such as clubhouse facilities, fitness center, laundry, parking garages, playgrounds, and swimming pools.
Property exposures are related directly to the number of apartment units. Ignition sources are from the electrical wiring, heating, air conditioning, and cooking systems. Older buildings should have wiring, heating, air conditioning, plumbing, and roof updated. If the building was converted from a prior occupancy, it should meet all current residential building codes. Each apartment unit may have a separate heating system, or there may be a boiler building to supply heat to all units. All systems must be properly maintained on an ongoing basis. There should be hard-wired smoke/fire alarms in all units and common areas. If alarms are battery-powered, there must be documented records of periodic maintenance. Housekeeping is critical if there is a central laundry area. Washers and dryers must be properly maintained. Items provided by the building owner, such as kitchen or laundry appliances, may be stolen by tenants or outsiders.
Crime exposure is from employee dishonesty and money and securities. Background checks should be conducted on all employees. Rents are generally collected the first of the month, and there may be large amounts of cash on hand. Payments by check are the preferred method for collecting rents. Deposits should be made promptly with appropriate security provided. Monetary transactions must be controlled through the use of receipts and regular monitoring. Access to apartments must be limited to those authorized to do so, and access to master keys must be strictly controlled. Units should be rekeyed when there is a change in tenant.
Inland marine exposure comes from accounts receivables for rents due, computers, contractors’ equipment for lawn and maintenance tools, and valuable papers and records for leases, mortgage, and tenant’s information. Duplicates of all data should be made and kept off premises for easy replication in the event of a loss. Tools and maintenance machinery should be periodically inventoried and kept in a secured area after hours.
Premises liability exposure can be high due to the number of tenants and guests visiting the property. All buildings should meet life safety codes and be in compliance with codes on smoke and fire detection, fire extinguishers, and carbon monoxide detectors. Lead exposure, particularly on windowsills, must be considered if the building was constructed prior to 1980. To prevent slips, trips, or falls, all premises must be well maintained with floor coverings in good condition. The number of exits must be sufficient and well marked, with backup lighting in case of power failure. Steps should have handrails, be well lighted, marked, and in good repair. Parking lots and sidewalks need to be in good repair, with snow and ice removed, and generally level and free of exposure to slip and fall. Balconies should be regularly inspected and maintained. Locks should be rekeyed after a change in tenant to prevent unauthorized access. Swimming pools, exercise facilities, and playgrounds should be limited to tenant use only, and be properly maintained. There should be a maintenance activity log to document the owner’s response to tenants’ needs. Personal injury losses may occur due to alleged wrongful eviction, invasion of privacy, or discrimination. Clear guidelines for tenant acceptability are important.
Automobile exposure is generally limited to hired non-owned for employees running errands. If there are owned vehicles, such as those used to service units, any driver should have a valid driver’s license and acceptable MVR. Vehicles must be maintained and records kept in a central location.
Workers compensation exposures are usually service, janitorial, or maintenance-related. Back pain, hernias, sprains, and strains from lifting and working from awkward positions are common. Skin and lung irritation can result from working with cleaning chemicals and paint. Interaction with tenants or guests can be difficult. Employees should be trained in dealing with difficult situations. Animals owned by tenants can bite or kick workers.
Minimum recommended coverage:
Building, Business Personal Property, Business Income and Extra Expense, Employee Dishonesty, Money and Securities, Accounts Receivables, Computers, Contractors’ Equipment, Valuable Papers and Records, General Liability, Employee Benefits, Umbrella, Hired and Nonownership Auto, Workers Compensation
Other coverages to consider:
Earthquake, Equipment Breakdown, Flood, Computer Fraud, Cyberliability, Employment-related Practices, Business Automobile Liability and Physical Damage, Stop Gap Liability