Self-storage owners purchase automatic access-control gates to heighten the security of their premises and the safety of their tenants' goods. Customers feel assured about storing their possessions in a gated facility because gates are great devices for deterring 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 the equipment must be properly maintained; otherwise, it can become a risk of loss and even a liability itself.
Vehicle damage and bodily injury caused by defective gates are some of the most frequently reported insurance claims. Gate damage isn't considered as a severe loss like fire; but if it happens consistently, it is considered a frequency loss and can be just as costly. If your insurance company had to pay out a large number of gate-damage claims, this could result in higher insurance premiums.
Typically, when a gate malfunctions, it closes prematurely and hits or entraps a vehicle, causing dents, scratches, broken windows and side mirrors, and possibly injuries. In one example, a tenant was driving through a self-storage entry gate when it closed before he could completely enter the property. It trapped the truck between its steel bars, scratched the paint and dented the side door. When the customer tried to pull the gate away from the truck, it wouldn't give. It was lucky his son, who was sitting in the passenger seat, had his arms and hands inside the truck when the gate closed as they could easily have been crushed. 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 sitting in the back seat, suffered an eye injury when a piece of glass from the windshield shot into her eye.
Mechanical devices carry the risk of malfunctioning from time to time, but preventive maintenance and common sense will help keep your gate in top working order. The 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 installation and maintenance manual and safety instructions.
- Keep a record of all inspections and maintenance performed.
- Have all gate functions and gate movement checked on a routine basis.
- Do not use the gate if it operates improperly, is damaged or is difficult to move.
- Do not overtighten 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, business liability would cover the sums you would be legally responsible to pay--up to the limits of the policy. As with car insurance, it is good practice to take out higher limits of liability in case a disaster does occur and you find yourself in the middle of a pricey lawsuit. It protects your business, your assets and your peace of mind.
Universal Insurance Facilities Ltd. 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, write P.O. Box 40079, Phoenix, AZ 85067-0079; call 800.844.2101; fax 480.970.6240; e-mail [email protected]; visit www.vpico.com/universal.