Commercial property policies are necessary to protect all types of businesses, but insurance for schools should have the ability to protect your students and faculty as well as the building itself. Attorney Bill Voss explores fire insurance options for educational institutions, allowing owners and operators to invest in valuable coverage endorsements before a fire breaks out.
Essential Fire Insurance Coverages for Schools and Universities
School administrators should consider the extent and coverages allowed under their property damage policies. Bare-bones policies may have cheaper premiums, but may not pay for ancillary costs related to a fire—costs which can quickly add up. Fire department charges, smoke and soot damage, and lost personal property can all be overlooked until after a fire has wreaked havoc across campus, so selecting comprehensive coverage now may offer peace of mind.
It is vital that administrators consider fire damage insurance that will cover:
- Commercial auto coverage. While buses and student shuttles may be protected from liability in a collision, liability insurance will not pay for damage to vehicles caused by non-collision events. If your school has a fleet of vehicles, comprehensive coverage is one of the easiest ways to ensure payment to repair school buses and university-owned vehicles after a fire. Comprehensive coverage can also pay for the costs of rental vehicles to provide student transportation while your buses are under repair.
- Landscaping and outdoor structures. School property may extend far beyond a single structure, and may include playgrounds, garages, greenhouses, sheds, baseball and football fields, and gardens. Your school may benefit from coverage for landscape losses and damage to additional structures.
- Increased costs of construction. Schools may be in operation in the original structure for decades, and each year that passes only increases the potential costs of renovation. Code upgrade insurance, also called ordinance and law insurance, covers the costs needed to bring a damaged structure up to current building specifications, including the installation of new utilities (such as plumbing and fire suppression systems), lighting and electrical systems, and the increased costs of construction. If the aesthetic qualities of the building have been affected, insurance may cover “line of sight” damage to replace undamaged portions of the building in order to preserve the overall appearance.
- Special equipment losses. Property damage insurance may place limits on which items will be covered after a loss. While inventory, furniture, and the structure itself are covered, some policies will not pay to replace high-value equipment. Owners may need additional policies or to pay separate deductibles for high-cost items such as science and technology labs, multimedia equipment, vocational equipment, or pool areas.
- Lost income from special events. Schools may be forced to close for weeks due to fire damage, and you may need to relocate educational operations to another facility. Even if only one section of the building is closed off, students and parents may be unable to use the campus for scheduled or special activities. Schools that regularly host intramural games, proms and school dances, swim meets, academic tournaments, fundraisers, or other events may need special events insurance to replace the income lost in ticket, concession, and merchandise sales.
- Business interruption insurance. A strong business interruption policy can provide lost income during the period of renovation, allowing you to pay for student transportation, cafeteria facilities, and additional bus routes to the new location. This revenue allows the administration to rent a temporary location for students to attend classes, continue to pay faculty salaries, or provide online classrooms so students do not fall behind in their courses.
If your school has been damaged by a fire, our attorneys can examine your policy and fight on your behalf to get you the full amount you are owed. Simply fill out the form on this page today to contact the Voss Law Firm or order a free copy of our book, Your Essential Guide to Residential Claims.