Weather-Related Catastrophes: How Condo Boards can Minimize Risk

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Weather-related catastrophes have property managers in Ontario on edge. Climate change continues to increase the risk of flooding, wind damage, and more. As a result, your condo board needs to create a strategy to help minimize potential damages and injuries. Here we explain how your condo board can minimize risk before weather-related catastrophe strikes.

Catastrophe Modelling

In the first half of 2021 alone, $40 billion of the $42 billion CAT losses reported were caused by natural disasters. Catastrophe (CAT) modeling offers a more relevant analysis for today’s weather-related catastrophes. In fact, it is now a common request for insurance company underwriters. The modeling provides crucial insights into the potential extent of property risk. It also addresses policy limits that could interfere with recovery from an event.

Flooding Safety Plans

Safety plans reduce the risk for injuries and loss of life. While your condo hopefully has a fire safety plan, you also need to look at other potential risks. Flooding as one of the more common weather-related catastrophes is a growing concern for condos in the downtown core. Overwhelmed sewage systems can lead to flooding in underground garages. Flooded elevators present a risk for residents and staff. Storm policies in hand with preventative measures to avoid catastrophic events keep everyone prepared and better able to put the plan into action.

Communication System Updates

Understanding how you will communicate with residents and staff in emergency and weather-related catastrophes situations is also important. Delivering automated voice announcements is best but can still pose challenges. If everyone tries to access their voice mail at once, it can jam the service, so no one receives the message at all. A safer process is to use email or text messaging as this is not as risky for causing network congestion. You also can’t depend on a single method as some residents might not have access to technology.

Insurance Review

Under section 99 of the Condo Act, your condo corporation must maintain insurance to cover damages caused by major perils to common elements and units. This includes:

  • Fire
  • Lightning
  • Smoke
  • Windstorm
  • Hail
  • Explosion
  • Water escape

Reviewing your coverage and how it applies to increased threats such as flooding is the best way to protect your property. You can also review your condo corporation’s governing documents to consider changing your requirements for owner insurance. Having proof of condo insurance is not unheard of for condo corporations trying to mitigate risks.

New Weather-Related Building Codes

Canada’s new building codes will improve wind resistance, increase snow bearing capabilities and reduce flooding risks by requiring automatic backflow systems. Updates are also coming for:

  • Windows
  • Exterior insulation
  • Fire tests
  • Air barriers
  • Asphalt shingles

Keeping up to date on new building codes allows you to prioritize upgrades that reduce the risk of weather damage.

Reducing Risk for Insurance Claims

Proactive maintenance not only reduces serious repair costs, but also helps reduce insurance claims. Simple maintenance steps such as trimming tree branches and checking for window and roof leaks can help avoid damage in a serious weather event. Effective maintenance plans help avoid skyrocketing insurance premiums, or worse, claim denial.

While it’s impossible to predict when or if disaster will strike, these tips will help mitigate risks.

CPO Management Inc. is a property management company in Toronto and the GTA specializing in preventative maintenance plans for condominiums. Reach out to us today to learn more about our condo services.

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