Recommendations are required when any dangerous or hazardous conditions exist that may result in a loss. We are hired to notice conditions that may result in a loss if not mitigated somehow. Please make recommendations even in the case where you think the chance of damage, injury, or loss is slight, or even when the insured says that he will take care of the situation. In this case, you may remark that the insured is aware of this condition and pledges to take care of it. Use common sense and be fair. We report, the underwriter ultimately decides.
Some of the conditions that require recommendation are these:
- any substandard condition of construction, or degraded condition, such as may result in loss, such as leaking roof, existing damage, openings to the building other than intentional (from damage, rot, vermin, etc.), missing siding, floors that give to your weight or feel springy; sharp, pointy objects, exposed wiring, exposed sharp things, broken glass, poor housekeeping. Use common sense.
- any existing product not properly handled or contained, such as chemicals or flammables;
- trip fall hazards (most likely noticed when you yourself trip)
- hazardous devices, such as trampolines; attractive nuisances, such as junk vehicles, heavy equipment, so forth. Think like a child; would I play on this or around this and possibly get hurt? Pools should be fenced - and always photo and complete a pool supplement in commercial situations. Unused pools should not be left only partially drained.
- animals, especially loud vicious dogs. These don't always require a recommendation, but certainly bear mentioning.
Make recommendations on any exposures you feel may be an accident waiting to happen. Remember to be reasonable, fair and use common sense.
There are other specific items common to most of our forms that require recommendations. They are as follows, listed by section.
-No automatic recommendations. Use general guidelines above. This is a descriptive section, so the more you tell, the better.
-electrical safely arranged: "NO" requires explanation, and a recommendation that at least states that the system should be checked out by a licensed electrician. A panel cover missing always results in a recommendation that it be restored.
-heating safely arranged: "NO" requires explanation, and a recommendation suitable to resolve whatever issue you may have.
-other recommendations as observations merit.
-Fire extinguisher: no fire extinguisher results in an automatic recommendation: "Install dry chemical fire extinguishers in premises, size and distribution in accordance with local fire department codes and standards." The local fire marshal can tell the insured what they need and where to place them.
-if the gauge reads good, but the tag is missing or expired, make a recommendation to have it updated if the premises are commercial. If homeowner this tag requirement is relaxed as long as the gauge is good.
- smoke detector: if they do not work in commercial buildings (or are obviously bad, hanging by a wire, etc.) make a recommendation that they be updated. Working smoke detectors are required if anyone sleeps in the building.
-Make other recommendations as observations merit. Be as complete as you can in describing devices if extant.
- General Conditions: if less than "Good", an explanation is required. Make practical recommendations as merited.
- area lighting: "No" requires a recommendation that sufficient outdoor lighting be provided, especially if the building is open after dusk.
- parking smooth and level: this speaks to trip fall hazards. If there are problems, mention and photo an example. Recommendation as required to solve the problem.
- parking illuminated: If "no", rec that a light be installed.
-Access to building: If not ok, please explain why, and apply any practical recommendation. We cannot move the building, but if there is a problem with access that can be cured, please tell how to cure it.
-Any one of these requires a recommendation if "yes." Describe the problem, and make a recommendation that solves the problem.
-Tree hazards speaks to over hanging limbs. We do love trees and hesitate to recommendation that a tree be removed, but notice any serious problems and advise if anything is rubbing the building, or seriously imminent of producing damage. Roots may also push up pavement, making a trip/fall hazard. Watch out for that.
- Trip/fall: these are usually found by falling over them yourself. Watch for loose boards in porches, or decks, and bad splinters that may injure naked feet. Popped nails may also be present. Make recommendations as necessary to reduce exposures. Sometimes steps exist near shop windows, e.g. commercial centers. Consider making a recommendation that textured tiles be placed in the floor before top treads that would direct the pedestrians attention to his feet, thereby making him see the steps. This was a problem at Barefoot Landing in Myrtle Beach, where shoppers often fell down, not seeing the steps for looking in store windows.
- unsafe stairs: rotten or rusted treads may need replacing, stringers that seem weak may need support or replacement. Treads, if out of doors, may need non-slip treatment. Balustrades may be broken or missing or a rail may be weak.
- Unrailed steps or stairways. Generally we want to rec if a set of steps are over 2 steps (that means 3 or more) without a rail. Tell where the steps are located and rec to install handrail as appropriate.
- housekeeping problems: bad overgrowth (not just routine grass cutting needed) but high enough to hide vermin or hide burglars, junk vehicles, trash. Recommendation as needed. -trampoline: all kids love trampolines. Heck many adults do too. We don't want to recommendation to remove one, but want to be sure the underwriter knows it is there, and let him decide. Be sure to photo it to prove it is there.
- horses or other livestock: no recommendation to remove, unless a serious problem. Be sure we know what is there.
-Any other hazard: please describe and make appropriate recommendations.
- Dogs: no recommendation to remove, just be sure it/they are appropriately discovered and described. A photo is always good.
-Pools: as above, if a pool is extant, it should be fenced. Note how high the fence is and if the gate is locked. Most conditions are covered by the Pool form. Dwellings don't require the pool form, but be sure the items discussed on the pool form can be seen in the photo, such as fence, lack or presence of diving board, life saving equipment, so forth.
Summary: if you have anything below average to say here, please describe completely, because it will cause some discussion and action on the part of the underwriter, the agent, and the insured. Make any recommendations not other wise covered.
Remember, recommendations are the tool that tell the company that this would be an acceptable risk "if the following items are corrected or changes made." They may get the policy canceled, and will at least cause action and may cost money. So be careful, judicious, and fair. We don't want to just rubber-stamp every policy that is written, but by the same token, we don't want to make it difficult for people to do business. If in doubt, call in to our office and discuss your concerns. Take a photograph of anything that you are making a rec on if it is practical to do so.