Insurance companies are warning of suspicious fires in new build housing developments in Ontario. They have seen a noticeable increase in fires affecting home builders and home buyers, which may be in part related to property market conditions, and the overall economic environment.
Recent news reports throughout Ontario have also picked up on the frequency of housing development fires and the police are investigating the nature of these fires.
To assist home builders with risk management in this space, we’ve leaned on our insurance company partner, Northbridge Insurance. The following are key takeaways and preventative measures to implement at housing developments that are under construction.
- Conduct a home appraisal to determine if the appraised value is less than the original purchase price.
- Engage with purchasers 4-6 months before closing to see if there is any risk of the inability to obtain financing and close on their unit(s).
- Consider enhancing the development’s security, focusing measures on vulnerable areas, units, and points of site access.
- Implement a layered approach to physical security based on the potential risk to a development:
- Provide 24/7 security guard service with guards located at each entry point and constantly patrolling the development to effectively treat it like a gated community. An executed contract with a detailed scope of guard services should be developed to this end.
- Provide fencing with a minimum height of 6 feet that surrounds the development complete with locked access gates, where permissible.
- Limit the number of entry points into the development, where permissible.
- Install vandal-resistant lighting in strategic positions around the premises, especially in vulnerable locations, to establish a well-lit external area.
- Provide high quality live-monitored surveillance cameras throughout the development with signage conspicuously posted. We suggest live monitoring is performed by an established third-party supplier of live-monitoring security services.
- Install a monitored intrusion alarm with motion detectors in vulnerable units.
- Secure all vulnerable structures and units from entry, where permissible.
- Introduce procedural measures on developments to help mitigate potential arson scenarios:
- Ensure end-of-day inspections are conducted.
- Ensure all flammable and combustible liquids are locked away or removed from the development.
- Ensure adequate housekeeping is maintained throughout the development.
- Ensure adequate firebreaks are in effect during construction.
- Use fire retardant products and materials where possible.
Please reach out to a Staebler Insurance Commercial Broker for more risk management insights and to discuss your company’s insurance needs.
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