Homeowners and business owners alike have to protect themselves from severe weather losses, including the annual threat of hailstorms. Attorney Bill Voss examines hail damage insurance options for owners and operators of charter schools, community colleges, universities, and other educational institutions.
Maximizing Insurance Coverage for Hail Losses in Schools
One of the many differences between hail damage to a house and damage to a commercial enterprise is the increased scale of damage. Public and private centers of learning can have several times the square footage of roofing and windows than single-family homes—and one university can have several campuses under a single policy. For this reason, school owners and operators should choose insurance options tailored specifically for the scope of the educational institution.
Owners should strongly consider additional storm damage protections on an educational property damage policy, including:
- Comprehensive physical damage. Hail storms pose the biggest threat to the roof, windows, and siding of a structure. If not repaired quickly, hail damage to a roof can cause leaks that result in thousands of dollars in water damage losses. While owners may save money on premiums by selecting an actual cash value (ACV) policy, the insurer will subtract depreciation from the roof before paying the claim. On the other hand, a replacement cost value (RCV) policy will pay the full amount necessary to replace all covered items, including storm-damaged inventory and ruined property owned by students and faculty.
- Grounds and landscaping repair. Hail storms can strip trees bare, shred outdoor flower and vegetable gardens, and kill plants that were specially selected for the beautification of the grounds. Your property damage policy may offer an endorsement to cover the removal of downed branches, debris cleanup, and reseeding pockmarked lawns.
- Special equipment extensions. While property damage insurance usually covers the cost of replacing anything inside a covered structure, there may be limitations on the recovery cost of high-value items. Depending on the nature of your institution, you may wish to purchase coverage for specialty equipment, such as woodworking or automotive tools, heavy machinery, computers and tablets, science and technology labs, or greenhouses and outdoor features.
- Commercial auto repair. Owners who own and operate a fleet of commercial vehicles will likely invest in liability insurance to protect against lawsuits after a collision. However, liability insurance will not provide payment for any losses caused by non-collision events. Commercial auto property damage can provide payment for the repair of school bus windshields and windows as well as the cost of renting temporary transportation vehicles. Owners may also purchase comprehensive auto damage insurance to cover hail damage to school buses and university-owned vehicles.
- Code upgrade coverage. If part of a covered structure must be rebuilt, the construction must be done in a way that is compliant with current building codes. Depending on the extent of damage and the original build date of the structure, the cost of bringing a damaged building up to code can quickly spiral out of control. Code upgrade insurance, also called ordinance and law coverage, pays for the increased costs of construction and installation of new utilities to maintain current building specifications.
- Special event losses. Hail damage may require certain areas or even whole buildings to remain closed until repairs are complete, depriving students and the public of the ability to use the school for special activities. If your school hosts indoor sports tournaments, proms and school dances, swim meets, fundraisers, or other annual events that bring in income, special events coverage can replace the amount generated in ticket sales, concessions, or donations.
- Business interruption coverage. Business income loss, or business interruption coverage, is arguably the most essential form of commercial insurance for any type of business. This coverage pays to replace lost revenue during extended closures and building repair for six months or longer, allowing owners to pay for unforeseen construction and transport costs. A school’s business interruption insurance may cover the costs of renting a temporary venue, the cost of transporting students to an alternate learning location, or the implementation of online classrooms.
If you are having trouble getting the full value of your hail damage claim from your insurance company, the Voss Law Firm can investigate the details, examine your policy, and fight on your behalf. Simply fill out the contact form on this page today or order a free copy of our book, Commercial Property Owners Must Read This BEFORE Filing an Insurance Claim.