Self-storage owners purchase automatic access-control gates to heighten the security of their premises and the safety of tenants’ goods. Customers feel confident about storing their possessions in a gated facility because gates are great deterrents to potential burglars and vandals. Various insurance programs will even discount premiums for storage owners who have a fenced property with an access-control gate. But security equipment must be properly maintained or it can become a potential liability.
Vehicle damage and bodily injury caused by defective gates are some of the most frequently reported insurance claims. Gate damage isn’t considered a severe loss; but if it happens frequently, it can be costly, because your insurance company may raise your premiums.
When a gate does malfunction, it typically closes prematurely and hits or entraps a vehicle, causing dents, scratches, broken windows and side mirrors, and possibly injuries. In one example, a gate closed on a tenant’s truck before he had completely entered the property. It trapped the vehicle between its steel bars, scratching the paint and denting the side door. His son, in the passenger seat, luckily had his arms and hands inside the truck, or the gate could easily have crushed them when it closed.
In another claim, a woman parked her car under a vertical gate while loading items from her storage unit. The gate slammed down and smashed the windshield. Her daughter, who was in the backseat, suffered an injury when a piece of glass from the windshield flew into her eye.
Mechanical devices carry the risk of malfunctioning from time to time, but preventive maintenance and commonsense will help keep your gate in top working order. Following are some guidelines for properly maintaining access-control gates and keeping customers safe:
- Display all warning signs provided with your gate, making them visible on each side.
- Automatic gates are not for pedestrian use. Keep the front and back of gate areas clear, and do not allow children to play near them. A separate pedestrian gate is recommended for areas accessed by people on foot.
- Contact a trained technician to maintain and repair the gate system. Never attempt to repair the gate yourself.
- Keep and refer to the gate’s installation and maintenance manual and safety instructions.
- Keep a record of all gate inspections and maintenance performed.
- Have all gate functions and movement checked on a routine basis.
- Do not use the gate if it operates improperly, is damaged or difficult to move.
- Don’t over tighten the operator clutch or any other devices to compensate for a stiff or damaged gate.
Additional Facts to Consider
Gate malfunction is a good example of why storage owners may want to consider taking out higher limits of business-liability insurance. Business liability provides protection against bodily-injury and property-damage claims. If you were found liable in a lawsuit, it would cover the sums you would be legally responsible to pay, up to the policy’s limits. It’s good practice to take out higher limits of liability. In case of an accident followed by a pricey lawsuit, it protects your assets and your peace of mind.
This article is a guideline to aid in minimizing risk in self-storage facilities. The information it contains is intended to be of general interest and does not address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. Nothing in this document constitutes legal advice, nor does any information constitute a comprehensive or complete statement of the issues discussed or the laws relating thereto.
Amy Brown is part of Universal Insurance Facilities Ltd., which offers a comprehensive package of coverages specifically designed to meet the needs of the self-storage industry. For more information, or to get a quick, no-obligation quote, call 800.844.2101; visit www.universalinsuranceltd.com.