November 6, 2020 by Adam Malik
As capacity for condo insurance shrinks and premiums continue to mount, property managers and condo boards will find greater success with underwriters if they can show they are embedding responsibility for risk management and mitigating losses into their corporate culture, an Aviva executive said recently.
Underwriters are becoming more selective when it comes to the condo business they’re willing to assess and accept, said Lindsey Bellinger, assistant vice president of commercial lines underwriting at Aviva Canada. They’re trying to balance out the mix of business and are very much aware of how much risk they’re accumulating.
“So obviously, they’re looking for some of the best of the best,” she explained during Canadian Underwriter’s recent webinar, Build up your Condo Business: How to Succeed in Today’s Condo Insurance Market.
To improve their chances of finding condo coverage, therefore, property managers and condo boards should assess how risk management is included in their loss prevention culture. That “is really going to be key in how you’re able to present that to an underwriter,” Bellinger advised. “You need to make sure that you provide that detailed information on the risk management, the loss control — specifically around water damage prevention, which really is sort of a key issue right now.”
Brokers should advise condo corporations to take ownership and responsibility for creating a written plan. Internal champions are needed, someone who is assigned to be accountable for the plan’s creation and success. “You’re not just saying that you’ve got this plan, but you have somebody that that actually takes ownership of that,” Bellinger said.
Something simple to advise property managers about is the importance of keeping key areas clean and free of clutter.
“General maintenance and housekeeping is still is so important,” Bellinger said. “I don’t know how many times I’ll see an inspection in one of the electrical rooms [that shows] cardboard and paper and plastic. It’s so easy just to clean it out.”
That’s a simple task for the condo corporation, and it’s vital in the eyes of underwriters, she added. Even things like slip-and-falls are a big issue for underwriters. Maintaining the property and keeping hazards clear to reduce the chances of a claim is something that needs to be top of mind for clients.
“I think just staying on top of current issues and showing a demonstrated expertise in any sort of class of business or segment gives an underwriter a lot more confidence to quote,” Bellinger said.
There has been a recent boom in condo development, but older buildings should not be forgotten. They have their own set of challenges. “We need to know what updates are on there,” Bellinger said of the older buildings, “what improvements they’re making, and have a better understanding of their reserve funding — the financial side of things as well.”
Feature image by iStock.com/g-stockstudio