Clean Up Your Mess!

I wrote insurance coverage for a commercial building earlier this year, property and general liability, only to receive a phone call a couple of months later from the carrier telling me that an inspection was done on the building and for lack of a better term, the premises was an absolute mess. It needed a fix quickly, or coverage was going to be cancelled short-term. The call took me by surprise so I decided to visit the property myself. Here’s what I discovered:

This was borderline hoarding. Storage was disorganized, with random articles stacked in solid piles up to the ceiling in some areas. There were no aisles and inadequate means of getting out from the storage area in the event of an emergency. Combustible material was stacked near an electrical switch, box, and panels, etc.

The loss control recommendation from the carrier: housekeeping. “There is excessive storage of combustible inventory and miscellaneous material throughout parts of the warehouse. Such arrangement of material (with 1 small walking path) could impede safe egress from the structure; The volume of closely packed material increases exposure to a rapidly spreading fire. The material also obstructs access to fire extinguishers and is stacked adjacent to electrical boxes and panels; The heavy fire load may not be controlled by the existing sprinkler system.”

The recommended solutions to this mess?

  • The inventory should be rearranged so all electrical boxes/panels have a 3′ radius free of combustible material.
  • The inventory should be rearranged to allow access to fire extinguishers.
  • The inventory density should be reduced to allow better access to storage areas and improved water distribution for the sprinklers.
  • Housekeeping should be improved and then maintained on a regular basis.

This is one of the most extreme examples of a disorderly premises that I have encountered. It doesn’t take an insurance professional to know that this is a severe property and general liability insurance hazard. There is absolutely no way of writing insurance with any carrier if you have a premises in this kind of shape. The risks are just too extreme. I’m not an obsessive compulsive neat freak by any means, but I ask myself if this insured has any bit of concern for protecting their assets? The point here is about risk management and risk reduction, not about making things look pretty at your home or business.

What type of housekeeping do you maintain at your home or business?


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About Jimmy Kinmartin - Business Insurance & Risk Management

Jimmy is a California licensed Property & Casualty AND Accident & Health insurance agent working at the Olson Duncan Insurance brokerage based in Torrance and Irvine, CA. He grew up in Fullerton, CA and graduated from Servite High School in Anaheim and Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles and currently lives in Tustin, CA. Have questions? Just ask! Or, follow Jim on Twitter at @JimKinmartin

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