February 1, 1998

2 Min Read
Inside Self-Storage 2/98

By David Wilhite

Today's juries are routinely awarding tremendous sums of moneyfor personal injury lawsuits that seem to surpass all sense ofproportion and common sense. Approximately 10 million civil casesare filed each year, resulting in jury awards totaling inhundreds of millions of dollars. Despite these statistics, arecent survey conducted by a major insurance company showed thatthe vast majority of its customers knowingly purchase liabilitylimits that would not fully indemnify them against the awardsbeing handed down by today's juries. This can be a very dangerouspractice, especially in view of today's litigious climate.

If you believe your current limits of liability are adequate,consider the case of the delivery man who fell in a customer'sparking lot and injured his back while making his rounds. Thejury awarded him $1.95 million. In another case, a woman sufferedmassive trauma when she was hit on the head by a wooden toolboxthat fell off a shelf in a hardware store. She received a $22million award for her injuries.

These examples serve to illustrate three important points: 1)juries are routinely awarding enormous sums in personal-injurycases; 2) the liability limits you choose can spell thedifference between solvency and bankruptcy; 3) liability limitsof $1 million or more must no longer be considered unusual orexcessive.

Fortunately, the news is not all bad. Increased liabilitylimits are readily available for self-storage facilities in $1million, $2 million and $3 million -limits; and most facilityowners can purchase an additional $500,000 coverage for about$350 per year on average.

Assuming you accept the need to increase your liabilityinsurance, how do you go about estimating the amount of coveragethat's right for you? Some experts say you should base yourlimits on multiples of your annual revenues, but that can becostly. The best method I've found for determining coveragelimits is to ask your agent what kinds of claims have been filedagainst similar businesses in the past and what the results were.Base your limits accordingly. If you are on an extremely tightbudget, evaluate how much you can afford to lose and make sureyour coverage protects you to at least that point.

Remember, a catastrophic loss can deliver a knockout punchthat can devastate your financial future--so don't put yourselfat risk. No matter how large or small your self-storage facilitymay be, securing adequate coverage is essential for protectingyour business and your peace of mind.

David Wilhite is the marketing manager of UniversalInsurance Facilities Inc. Universal offers a complete package ofcoverages specifically designed to meet the needs of theself-storage industry, including loss of income, employeedishonesty, comprehensive business liability, hazardous-contentsremoval and customer storage. For more information, contactUniversal at Box 5400, Scottsdale, AZ 85261-9957; phone (800)844-2101; fax (602) 970-6240; Web www.vpico.com/universal.

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