Liability: Managing Risk and Claims – Prevention and Cure

We are delighted to present the first in a series of insights relating to key risks facing the Real Estate sector.  Greg Spiteri, our Head of Sales and Marketing for the Real Estate Division, considers some of the main aspects of this key cover in relation to prevention of claims, and what to do when the inevitable happens.

Greg will also be providing some examples of how best to manage liability claims and the importance of expertise and know how, especially when choosing key partners within the overall insurance programme.  Claims are always the barometer of the strength of the insurance programme and therefore should be taken very seriously.

 

Prevention and risk management

Arguably, one of the biggest risks a property investor or manager faces is slips and trips.  These types of incident account for around 1 in 3 non-fatal injuries. In the UK, there are at least 35,000 of these types of injuries per annum or one serious slip incident every 3 minutes.  The law requires that floors must not be slippery to avoid putting people’s safety at risk.

Slip assessments help to protect people as well as businesses by identifying and controlling hazards and risk, which have the potential to cause harm. This ensures reduced liability and legal compliance, and can reduce the risk of reputational damage.

At Stackhouse Poland, we take this very seriously. Market-leading risk management service providers, S2 Partnership are perfectly placed to provide an all-encompassing service to our clients. Working in partnership, we’re able to provide a ‘3 Step Plan for Risk Reduction’ ensuring the right solution for the environment.

Recent figures from HSE (Health and Safety Executive) showed slips, trips and falls to be the greatest source of workplace accidents with over 40% of all major incidents and over 20% of injuries that last 7 days or more.

We understand not all risks can be prevented but the ‘3 Step Plan’ can help identify practical actions that can be taken to prevent accidents or ensure you are well prepared to tackle a claim with a full audit trail available should you need to defend.  With an ever increasing risk of fraudulent claims it is essential that you understand your risk landscape and have a system of monitoring and recording.

Step 1

Assess the risks

Step 2

Preparedness testing

Step 3

Monitor, record and manage

When it comes to slips and trips, practical, preventative actions are the key to reducing incident, claims and associated costs.  Not all incidents can be prevented, but proving that appropriate actions have been taken, and fully recorded, is the key to defensibility in the event of incidents and claims.

If an incident does occur it is vitally important that the claim is handled in the best way and protects the interests of the insured at all times whilst providing suitable indemnity to any visitor to the property.

Partnership is again the key to the success of a well managed claim.  At Stackhouse Poland, we strive to “do the right thing” and we always apply this mantra when it comes to claims.  In the area of liability we work with one of the leading adjusters, Kudos Liability Adjusters.  We share the same values, and aim to provide the best service we can.

 

Case studies

We have identified some key case studies that highlight why prevention and monitoring are essential.

Example 1

The claimant alleged that a failure by the Managing Agent to grit a main pedestrian traffic route within the Estate caused the claimant to slip and sustain a broken wrist plus associated costs.

Enquiries revealed that the Managing Agent had an excellent maintenance regime in place for the management of snow and ice, and with the addition of strong witness evidence, the claim was dismissed at trial.

The claimant failed to prove his injuries and losses occurred as a result of a breach of duty or negligence on the part of the Managing Agent.  This was a multitrack case with savings of circa £90,000 including costs.

Example 2

The claimant, a Letting Agent, allegedly sustained injuries when showing prospective tenants inside the Insured’s vacant property.  The allegations centred on a missing stair tread halfway down a set of metal steps leading from the property to the rear.  There was no evidence prior to the alleged incident that a step was missing, that the property was neglected or that the incident was reasonable foreseeable.  At trial, the claim was dismissed.  The judge concurred with the adjusters’ evidence that the insured were a reasonable occupier, whose evidence outshone that of the claimant.

Suspected fundamental dishonesty on the part of the claimant  (in that it appeared the step may have been removed), which would have disabled QOCS (Qualified One Way Costs Shifting) and allowed for the recovery of defence costs, although the court concluded there was insufficient evidence.  Savings exceeded £19,000 just by successfully defending the claim.

Example 3

The claimant discovered damage to paintwork on a car that was parked in an underground car park of concrete construction.  A shared garden was situated above the section of car park that the claimant used, and water from the garden had gradually penetrated the concrete through small cracks, where it collected minerals.  These eventually dripped on to the claimant’s car causing damage to the paintwork.

Investigations revealed several significant areas of calcium limescale ingress in the same car park, which had not been proactively managed by the appointed Managing Agent.  The claim for damages was redirected to the Agent in that they were responsible for general maintenance and had failed to carry out their duties in this regard.

By educating our customers we hope to provide valuable insight into how loss prevention and mitigation not only ensures best practice but also negates the need for unnecessary increases in premium and therefore no compromise in the insurance programme.

 

Find out more

If you would like to talk to us at greater length about this, or any other aspect of Real Estate, please complete our Contact Us form