Property Management Company Left on the Hook in Slip and Fall Suit over COI Confusion
A simple slip-and-fall lawsuit spiraled into a liability headache for a New York based property management company after a court ruling blocked its attempt to deny responsibility for the incident.
The plaintiff in this suit slipped and fell on black ice in the parking lot of a Long Island strip mall. The property management company overseeing the property argued it should not be held liable as they claimed the vendor hired for snow removal failed to procure insurance listing them as an Additional Insured, and furthermore that the owner was ultimately responsible for the maintenance of the parking lot.
The Supreme Court of New York shot down the property management company’s claim for two reasons.
First, their claim that the snow-removal company breached its contractual obligation to procure insurance listing them as an Additional Insured was denied by the court as a COI provided by the vendor listed the property management company as an Additional Insured.
Second, their claim that they owed the injured party no duty of care due to the fact that the company “neither owned the subject parking lot nor was obligated to remove snow or ice from its surface” was denied because their property management agreement with the mall owner held the management company responsible for the supervision of contractors as well as property inspections with regards to “hazard prevention and risk management.”
Takeaways from Alex Kario, Director of Operations at Jones
- While the COI naming the PM company as an Additional Insured was NOT certain proof that it attained the required coverages, it was deemed sufficient to throw out the argument against the contractor for non-compliance with insurance requirements because it evidenced that they had in fact procured the insurance.
- Diligent stewardship of the COI compliance process would have saved the property management from making a futile argument to the court. If they had up-to-date vendor COIs on file they would have known that the policy included them as an Additional Insured.
- Property Managers should be mindful of the exact verbiage of their service agreements with owners. Risk management often falls upon property managers, which puts them in a vulnerable position when liability claims surface.
🚨 SHAMELESS PLUG: HOW JONES CAN MAKE SURE THIS DOESN’T HAPPEN TO YOU 🚨
If the property management company featured in this example had Jones collecting, storing, and reviewing their COIs for compliance, they easily would have been able to check their records to see that the snow removal vendor had in fact provided a COI evidencing that they had added them as an Additional Insured. By making an argument based off shoddy recordkeeping they undermined their own credibility and exposed their lack of risk controls to the court. Having the Jones platform to support their vendor risk management strategy could have helped them either build a stronger defense, or decide to settle to avoid bad publicity and legal fees.
Note: interested in exploring how Jones can help you automate your compliance management end-to-end and de-risk your building? Talk to our team of experts today!
Sneak Preview of Our Newest Compliance Course
I have a small favor to ask- we’re currently developing another compliance course for PMs focused on comparing insurance requirements in leases to policies evidenced on a COI, and I’d love to know what the community thinks of how it looks so far. Click here to check out the first two videos and feel free to leave me feedback. Thank you again for being an avid reader of our insurance content!