Inside Self-Storage

MAY 2019

Inside Self-Storage (ISS) is an information source for industry owners, managers, developers and investors covering news, trends, facility operation, finance, real estate, construction, development, marketing, technology, insurance and legality.

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As a self-storage operator, the last thing you want is for one of your customers, guests or employees to get hurt onsite. Unfortunately, accidents can and do occur; but there are ways to prevent or minimize them. You have a responsibility to be aware of loss prevention and to do what you can to avoid mishaps. Stay on Top of Maintenance First, make accident prevention a top priority. One of the best ways is to keep up with facility maintenance. Replacing lightbulbs and sealing cracked concrete may seem like never-ending jobs, but they're important when you consider the safety impact. Falling behind on upkeep will increase the chances of injury, which could make your business liable in the event of an accident. Keep your aisles clear of trash and debris that may have been left by tenants. Walk the site routinely to ensure nothing is out of sorts. If you come across something that needs to be fixed or cleaned, it should be a priority. Educate Everyone Customers should be educated about site safety. They aren't familiar with this kind of environment and may not be aware of issues that could arise. New tenants should be "shown the ropes" and get a quick introduction to any unique property features. For example, do your unit doors have handles or a pull cord? This could be brand new to a customer, and a quick lesson on how to properly open and close the door can be valuable. Employees should be properly trained as well. Keep them in the loop on any important site changes or ongoing maintenance. Create a handbook of injury-prevention tips and procedures. This will keep them safer and allow them to do their part in protecting guests and customers. Owners should keep a clear line of communication with their staff. Hang signs or posters with safety tips and recommendations. For example, instruct people to use a step stool rather than stand on boxes. It may sound silly, but not everyone uses the same common sense; and I'd rather be silly than experience a completely avoidable accident. Minimize the Damage Not all accidents are avoidable. Even the best run self-storage facility is likely to experience a misfortune from time to time. However, there are important steps that will help minimize further damage and keep things from escalating. The first thing to do is to breathe and keep calm. Understandably, it can be a stressful situation, but there's no need to panic when someone gets injured. Evaluate the situation quickly and determine if medical attention is needed. If so, call 911 right away. Once everyone is safe, immediately file a claim with your insurance company. Documentation is critical and will be helpful for resolving any claim as quickly as possible. Incident reports should be filed right away. Before and after photos can come in handy as well. It's very important that you don't take any responsibility for the incident. You can be sympathetic and supportive—do what you can to help the injured party—but don't admit guilt or take blame. While you want to be kind and helpful, remember to shield yourself and the business. Have the Right Insurance Protecting your storage facility starts with having the right insurance coverage. General-liability usually covers "trip and fall" injuries, but medical payment is another crucial coverage to include in your policy. This is a form of "no-fault" insurance that can help cover onsite injuries and prevent them from escalating to a legal battle. It's usually set with a per-person limit. It's up to the carrier to determine if medical payments are appropriate for a claim. Otherwise, it would fall into general liability. This can help pay larger claims and associated legal expenses. Keep in mind, if an employee is injured in an accident, he's not going to be covered under your standard insurance policy, so it's imperative to have workers' compensation. Your insurance agent can talk to you about your facility's specific needs to help you determine the appropriate coverages and types of policies you may need. Avoiding accidents and personal injury at your self-storage facility takes planning and preparation; but with proper consideration, you can eliminate some extra risk and prevent calamities. Being diligent and practicing these risk-management tips will help you keep your customers and employees happy as well as protect your business. Melanie Wichelman is an account executive with Universal Insurance Programs, which has created and provided specialized insurance coverages to the self-storage industry for more than 20 years. For more information, call 800.844.2101; visit www.universalinsuranceltd.com. OUCH! That's Gonna Hurt Avoiding and managing onsite injuries By Melanie Wichelman 34 ISS I May 2019 www.insideselfstorage.com

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