By Drew M. Smith and Mike W. Smith
Property Managers are at an increased risk of liability at the properties they manage in the wake of recent workplace violence, terrorism and civil unrest. The recent shootings and terrorist attacks across the world have understandably unnerved a lot of people. Places where people work and socialize have been targeted by terrorists and others in an attempt to spread fear and chaos across their respective target cities. These acts of terror and violence have caused property managers to ask the question: Could it happen to my building? Could this happen to my work place, what are my responsibilities and liabilities and are they covered by insurance? We will address these issue in a three part series on the issue. In this post we will address some of the property manager’s basic responsibilities in the event of an active shooter situation.
What Are My Responsibilities?
As a property manager, you are responsible for managing the property. In some contracts the property manager is responsible for security and in others they are not. But even in situations where the property manager is not, by contract, responsible for security, they are responsible for oversight of the property including responses to events, evacuation plans and having safeguards in place to adequately address the daily flow of activity at the properties they manage. When an event happens at a property, the logical questions are what security was in place, what protocols were being followed and could the event have been either stopped or mitigated had the proper procedures been put in place. These procedures could include more security and videos, but also could include lock down, notification and evacuation procedures that might have led to a better outcome of the event. The extent to which the property manager has procedures and protocols in place and properly executes them in the event of a situation, can greatly reduce the ultimate liability of a property manager.
What Can a Property Manager Do?
Property Managers need to perform a risk assessment of each property and discuss the assessment with their property owners. Further, they should develop a specific formalized active shooter plan that is discussed with tenants, building owners and workers on the site. This is no different from the concept of a fire drill/plan except the procedures may be different. Your plan should address assess at a minimum, the following:
- A coordinator for the building
- Security and alarm systems, including back-up systems if power, internet or phones are out
- Evacuation and lock down plans
- Plans for dealing with the media, including spokesperson
- Readily available plans for the notification of Security Personnel and appropriate law enforcement
- Copies of building plans that can be readily available for emergency personnel
- Plans for notification of employees and other’s via text messaging or other means
- Requiring high risk tenants to maintain an active assailant insurance policy
- Procedures for updating owner and tenant insurance information
In our next post we will address insurance issues that need to be addressed by the property managers other than standard liability issues. In the following post, we will address gaps in insurance relating to distinctions between assault and battery, terrorism and civil unrest.
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About Axis Insurance Services, LLC
Axis Insurance Services, LLC (AIS) is a licensed professional liability insurance broker located in Franklin Lakes, NJ with agents licensed nationwide. They offer access to high-quality insurance products in the areas of Errors and Omissions insurance (E&O), Directors and Officers liability insurance (D&O), Crime, Fiduciary, and Privacy/Network security coverage for today’s professional service firms. AIS works with all company types including commercial real estate firms, real estate agents and brokers, property managers, insurance agents, medical groups, practice managers, third party administrators, lawyers, accountants, architects, engineers and many others.
Axis Insurance Services, LLC is not affiliated with Axis Capital, Axis Insurance Company, its subsidiaries or affiliates in any way.