In most modern cities, office buildings and higher density residential developments are entrenched in the landscape and as land becomes more scarce and expensive, developers and builders continue to build taller buildings.
The Australian experience is no different with a changing city skyline across our major cities. Such buildings have their own unique exposures, whether the tenant mix in the building is predominantly residential, office/retail or a combination of both.
What are the exposures?
From a property perspective, the construction, location, building age, cladding used and fire protection (such as installed sprinklers and smoke detectors) play an important part in the insurance pricing. The tenant mix (for example: residential, retail, offices) and waste disposal are also some of the factors that are considered by insurers.
Most buildings have glass panels as external walls. There have been instances where glass panels have exploded or shattered which not only results in property damage but can be a liability hazard to the general public.
Liability related incidents such as trips and falls in common areas such as foyers, lifts and stairwells are common.
Other less talked about exposures can range from machinery breakdown of large air conditioning units and negligence and privacy breach claims against the body corporate committee appointed to manage the building.
The solution is to discuss your insurance requirements with a qualified independent broker who is aware of the exposures present and who will implement an insurance program that is broad in coverage.
What can go wrong?
An air-conditioning contractor was cleaning the louvres in the plant and machinery room on level 13 of an office building in Exhibition Street, Melbourne. This cleaning process involved the use of a high pressure water cleaner. The contractor neglected to turn off the pressure cleaner and subsequently the hose that feeds the machine popped off the appliance. The result was a foot of water that accumulated and subsequently overflowed down onto levels 11 and 12 setting off the fire alarms.
In another instance, on one rainy Sydney day, a hip injury was sustained by a visitor to an office building who slipped on wet floor tiles whilst entering the foyer of the building. The wet floor mat in front of the entrance was considered small and inadequate.