Over the past several weeks, heavy thunderstorms rolled through the area, bringing significant rainfall. Deacon Jones thought it would be a good time to go and check on the church. They were hoping to reopen soon for in-person services, so he called several members of his team and asked them to come and help inspect the church prior to its possible reopening.Upon arrival, they were greeted by the smell of mildew and noticed several spots in the lobby where water had leaked, causing the ceiling panels to warp and drop to the floor. In addition to the ceiling, the carpet below was soaked as well.
Deacon Jones decided it might be a good idea to check the roof to see if they could find the source of the leak. The roof had not been checked since it was installed approximately 20 years ago. Upon safely accessing the roof, he found what appeared to be the source of the leak—a small section of tiles that had cracked over time and become loose, allowing water to enter the building.
This hypothetical story illustrates an important aspect of preventative maintenance. Had there been a maintenance plan in place, the wear and tear to the tiles could have been caught and repaired prior to the rains. The water would not have entered the building and caused interior damage to the lobby. The cost to replace the worn tiles would have been minimal, with no interior damage.
The Benefits of Having a Maintenance PlanIn the story above, hiring a professional roofer to come out periodically to inspect the roof would have allowed wear and tear to be spotted earlier, and repairs to the affected areas could have been done at a much lower cost. The cost of regular maintenance is very small compared to the cost of a major breakdown.
A well-maintained property will most likely add to the lifecycle of the asset. Basically, maintenance is a prevention tool to provide a safe environment for the church members and guests who walk through your church doors. A maintenance plan just makes good sense, as it works hand in hand with insurance to protect your facility from safety hazards and accidents, in addition to keeping overall insurance costs down.
What is the Difference between Maintenance and Insurance?In looking at maintenance and insurance, one needs to be familiar with the insurance policy. Studying the policy summary allows you to make better choices when it comes to filing claims based on what is and is not covered. For example, wear and tear is excluded in the property policy, which means it is something that would not be covered by insurance. To define the differences:
Maintenance is defined as work that needs to be done over time, such as repairs or upkeep of property or equipment. An example is your church’s soundboard. Typically, a soundboard will last longer if you maintain it by dusting it and keeping it covered when not in use. Maintenance on a soundboard could also include changing a cable over time. If the cable becomes frayed and is not replaced, it could result in damaging the board’s internal components or sparking a fire, which could lead to possible fire damage to the building.
The bottom line: A lack of maintenance can lead to accidents or damage to property. This, of course, can lead to injuries, lawsuits, and high-dollar claims. You have an obligation to act promptly on maintenance issues when they occur. You also have an obligation to keep your facility properly maintained. This includes fixing your leaky roof or HVAC. If these are not repaired or replaced and are allowed to continue in a state of disrepair, it can cause further, significant damage that your insurance may not cover.
Insurance is defined as a contractual relationship designed to cover sudden and accidental loss. It is not a maintenance policy. If it is a covered cause of loss, insurance is there to restore you to a pre-loss state, either by repairing or replacing the covered item.
Cause of loss is an industry term that spells out the criteria an insurance company uses to determine if a claim should be covered. These criteria are covered in the insurance summary, which is why it’s important to read and understand your policy summary.
So, the question is, will the insurance company pay for a maintenance-driven claim, such as Deacon Jones’s leaky roof? If the damage is directly caused by or through lack of maintenance, the claim may likely be denied. Wear and tear exclusions on property insurance policies are designed to prevent insurance companies from paying for claims that are due to the insured’s failure to properly maintain, repair, and replace deteriorated or defective portions of the insured property. Remember, maintenance issues happen over time, and claims could be denied if maintenance is neglected.
How to Start A Maintenance ProgramMaintenance is extremely important, and it is just as important that you work on putting together your maintenance program. On our website, AdventistRisk.org you will find numerous resources outlining maintenance programs and other safety resources. If you don’t currently have a maintenance program, you may want to look at our step-by-step guide, Starting a Preventative Maintenance Program, or the Seasonal Maintenance resources. I urge you to take some time to browse through it. If you need additional help, please contact your local conference, and they can connect you with your account executive here at Adventist Risk Management.
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