Risk Mitigation and What to Do From a Loss Control Perspective

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With warmer weather on the horizon it’s important to evaluate and take preventative measures to protect your property. In this episode of Risky Business, Colin Rooke and Paul Martin are joined in studio by Brennen Mills from Saskatoon Fire and Flood.

Listen to the full episode here, or read the full transcript below

Paul Martin: Welcome to Risky Business Commercial Insurance with Butler Buyers. I’m Paul Martin, the business commentator here on CKOM and joining us in studio today we have a couple of people. Our usual attendee is Colin Rooke the Commercial Risk Reduction Specialist with Butler Buyers and the expert in Saskatchewan on risk mitigation and he’s also brought along someone that you’ll meet a little bit later in the program but, Colin, welcome as always to the program. I guess today’s topic is really triggered by the weather, isn’t it? It’s springtime and we are kind of smiling and all of that stuff, but there are things that probably been hidden by snow that are starting to pop up that we need to talk about.
Colin Rooke: Yeah, I thought we would have a show and just discuss okay, so we’ve had an early, nice spring, real big relief from the very long cold winter. With that when you have a snow melting quickly, a lot of standing water and maybe you weren’t thinking about it or prepared for spring, that there’s a lot of risks out there and there’s a lot of damage that could be lurking, looming. Again, maybe you’re not checking your property. So I thought, maybe let’s just have a talk about risk mitigation and what to do from a loss control perspective and bring someone in who specializes in that industry to the show and just discuss what he sees on a day-to-day basis, what business owners can do to mitigate risk, what to look for, the type of claims they’re seeing.
Colin Rooke: Also just dispelling some myths in the industry. There’s certainly a lot of those, especially for business owners that maybe haven’t had a lot of claims or are maybe claims free. You kind of walk into the manufacturing facility, you see water in a corner, maybe it’s a burst pipe or damage related to the weather and I think sometimes there’s panic. We just want to kind of clear up some of the, again, the myths around, “Okay, what’s my role? What do I do? How do I get this cleaned up?”
Paul Martin: That’s a good point because you are the first point of contact for a property owner or a business owner and, yes, they talk to you about buying an insurance policy, but if there ever were a claim, I’m assuming that you’re the first person that they think to call.
Colin Rooke: Yeah. That’s, I guess kind of part of the problem. If you can imagine, again, water is leaking in or there’s a problem with the roof, maybe there’s some ice damming going on, what have you, and you see active damage, a lot of clients will call us first. I mean, certainly we need to be part of that process, but the first call is to a guy like Brennen Mills from Saskatoon Fire and Flood to come in, assess the situation, stop the kind of ongoing damage and also mitigate further damage. Really our job as brokers, I mean we look after reimbursement. Is they’re going to be cost recovery for this? We get a lot of questions of, “Who am I allowed to call?” “Am I allowed to call someone?” “I didn’t realize I could do that.”
Colin Rooke: The message, I guess that needs to be said is you have to do whatever it takes to protect your business or your house and you have to stop the damage. If you’re looking at a problem and you can tell it’s going to take an expert to fix, I mean, especially for example, if you’re staring at six feet of water, and you’re saying to yourself like, “I can’t clean that up.” Well, I mean, as your broker I can’t either. We can help you again with cost recovery, but you got to get the expert in to get the water out and again, mitigate further damage.
Colin Rooke: So that’s why I wanted to bring in Brennen Mills from Saskatoon Fire and Flood.He’s just going to talk about again what he’s seeing in the industry, the types of claims and some of what could be avoided. And, again, just a little bit more on kind of dispelling myths on how the process goes.
Paul Martin: Excellent. Well, so with that introduction, let’s bring Brennen into the conversation. Brennen Mills with Saskatoon Fire and Flood.
Paul Martin: Brennen, I think Colin kind of teed it up there and I’m just going to get you to expand on that. Here we are with the seasonal change winter to spring, what are the kinds of things that you guys are encountering? What kinds of calls are you getting? What are the issues that you’re seeing at this time of year?
Brennen Mills: Well, thank you for having me, Paul, and I’m excited to help you learn a little bit to protect your business and/or home today. It’s spring, things are melting, water. Water in all shapes, sizes and depths, I guess, let’s say. Really we’re in the line of work of solving problems and coming into help you. Right now, a quick melt can lead to roof leaks, maybe over land flooding where we’ll have poor grading against the back of your property. Something to do with an alley or even downspouts that are directed the wrong way. So water is the number one problem we’re seeing right now.
Paul Martin: I assume that compounding that is frost. As frost comes out, there is shifting, so land moves a little bit. I mean it’s not earthquake kind of movement, but there is some shifting that goes around and it depends I guess on the soil types too, but are you seeing that kind of thing and it just compounds it? If I’m a business owner, what advice are you giving me so that I never have to meet you, that I can prevent this from happening?
Brennen Mills: Well, maintenance is an easy one to say, but following up on that and ensuring that you’re protecting your businesses is another. So having, whether it be your foundation or your roof inspected on a regular basis, those can prevent that style of damage. Really once things are happening to touch on a few things Colin had brought up is, what do I do? Who do I call? You call as soon as possible. You call us at Fire and Flood. We need to get there to help you mitigate that loss. I can’t tell you how many times we will get a phone call at 5:00 on a Friday, “Oh, oh, I’ve been trying to handle this all day, but now I’m looking and it’s time for supper, I need some help.” Get us there, get us there quickly so we can help you through that process.
Paul Martin: You said maintenance. Maintenance, for example, check your roof for snow all that kind of stuff. Do people really do that?
Brennen Mills: If you’ve had a problem before, you probably do now, yeah.
Paul Martin: So it’s one of those things you have to learn the hard way? Is that your experience?
Brennen Mills: Yeah, it’s common sense, but only once you’ve learned it so.
Paul Martin: So I’m a business owner, I’m listening to this program and I hear you say that, and intellectually that all makes sense. What’s the easiest way for me to not forget that? Or, how do I set up a schedule? What do you recommend to people when they say, “How do I go about doing this?”
Brennen Mills: You could do that as part of your risk assessment, setting up an emergency plan and that’s, when something happens, what do I do? That’s an easy way to avoid that. Oh my goodness, it can happen to anyone and if you’ve experienced it once or hundreds of times, it’s still a very stressful moment. Knowing what to do and when to do it is going to be important.
Paul Martin: Is there any kind of routine you recommended? I know sometimes that you will hear, maybe this is going to change in the future, and it doesn’t really work in Saskatchewan, but on the days you change your clock for going ahead or back on daylight savings time is the time to change the batteries in your smoke detector, not such a great reminder in Saskatchewan, since we don’t do a whole lot of that clock changing thing, but are other little tidbits or hints or suggestions you give to business owners? Let’s say, this is the time of year, you should be checking for ABC. Is it March or February for snow? What do you recommend? 
Brennen Mills: A proactive approach is better than reactive, no question about it and trying to get in that habit. Maybe it is something that you’d put on your calendar, on your phone, or somebody that helps you manage that property, but staying ahead of it and, and not waiting for it to happen. Whatever it takes to make sure that you are checking your downspouts, rain scuppers. Even things like a sprinkler maintenance water would be the most common insurable loss that we see. There are the risk of fires in numerous wind, otherwise, butt water would be that big one. Knowing what to do so when it happens, where your shut offs are. How to shut your sprinkler system off, if maybe a sprinkler head a accidentally got hit or went off, just to help mitigate that loss. Keep it small, get somebody there to keep the damage something manageable.

A proactive approach is better than reactive, no question about it and trying to get in that habit. 

Paul Martin: This is very, very helpful. We are going to take a little break and come back and dig into this just a bit further, but I’m learning some things here that I think probably our listeners are learning too. So a Brennen, thanks. Just don’t go anywhere, we’re going to continue this conversation.
Paul Martin: You’re listening to Risky Business Commercial Insurance with Butler Buyers we’ll be back in just a couple of moments. Paul Martin: Welcome back to Risky Business Commercial Insurance With Butler Buyers. Joining me in studio today is Brennen Mills with Saskatoon Fire and flood, and as always, Colin Rooke the Commercial Risk Reduction Specialist with Butler Buyers Commercial Insurance.
Paul Martin: Colin, just before the break we had Brennen kind of explaining that really, I think probably the most important thing that we all need to remember is proactive is way better than reactive. You wanted to jump in on that conversation and I’m not sure that’s the exact point you wanted to make, but jump in here.
Colin Rooke: Yeah, I mean the proactive meaning certainly the nature of this show, and it’s a word we use all the time. I did want to touch onto a little bit of the reactive side and Brennen made a good comment about, you clip is sprinkler line. Again, I think he’d agree that that’s one of those types of situations where the seconds matter. The seconds matter and that’s why it’s just, again, talking about proactive risk management and having that plan. As a business owner, and we’re certainly providing means to our customers, but as a business owner, you need to know if I clip a sprinkler, if a pipe bursts, who am I going to call? What is the procedure? Do I know how to shut off the water valve?
Colin Rooke: Again, calling me to tell me about it. I mean, I’m not going to know either, you know? So it’s okay, how do I shut it off? Then who do I call immediately to help clean up the mess. I just think it’s so important that the listeners are understanding that our job is cost recovery. Our job is reimbursement. We’ll look into the coverages. Hopefully there’s coverage there, we can’t guarantee it 100% of the time, but regardless, you still have to protect your business. You still have to clean up the mess. You still want a professional firm that’s going to do it right.
Colin Rooke: The last thing you want in your hands is, for example, is mold because you’ve done it yourself and it wasn’t clean and dried properly and now you have a big problem. If we want to talk about coverages, you’re not going to get coverage for that. So, it’s just really important.
Colin Rooke: I think Paul too, you sort of made a comment that do business check the roofs? I would agree they don’t, unless there’s been a problem and then it’s top of mind. I guess I’m just wondering to Brennen, are there people out there… I realize you can call it roofing company and say every year, “Check my roof.” It might cost you a ton in constant roof repairs, but are there services out there? Is that something that you do almost like a loss assessment, just kind of a quick walkthrough or are there people out there that will kind of check for the nagging problems? How would you suggest business owners kind of get in the habit of doing these things? Realizing though that they’re not the roofing experts, they’re not going to… I mean I can tell when there’s a wet spot in the tile but, but as far as looking at the situation and knowing, just wanted your thoughts on that.
Brennen Mills: Stopping us from ever having to be called is what you want to do, Colin, I appreciate that.

Stopping us from ever having to be called is what you want to do, Colin, I appreciate that.

Colin Rooke: Yeah. the better you answered this question, the less work you should have in the future, so carry on.
Paul Martin: Yes.
Brennen Mills: On that note I have to go. But no, really trying to prevent that and who can you call to make sure you’re doing the best on your end? You may have a maintenance contract with someone, but it’s hard to protect yourself from all types of loss. I don’t have an easy answer for you on that one because weather has a big part of how busy we are. If there’s a lot of snow, that can cause things. If there’s a windstorm, a large rainstorm, anything like that, it is really an indicator as to what’s going to be happening. So to make sure your systems are in place and working, really it just starts with putting in the thought and if you’re thinking about it, you’re already doing the right thing. Does my property, it’s hard to summarize and every different style of building here as we talk, but what could those problems be? You can call us a we. We see it when it’s going wrong and we are a reactive company. We’re a service company and to help you avoid that is something that we offer. 
Paul Martin: That’s a good point, do you know what I mean? You are, I think your description is your reactive because it takes a disaster for me to pick up the phone to call you, but you do offer a service where you’ll come in and say, “My experience with suggests that is a problem and that’s a potential problem. That’s something you might want to look at.”
Brennen Mills: It’s something that we have done. It’s not what we do, I apologize for that. We are definitely the guys that come in and help out when it’s already happened.
Paul Martin: Yes.
Brennen Mills: We want to help you through that process and as Colin mentioned, not knowing maybe what to do even if you were to call your broker, they specialize in that coverage and ensuring when something happens that you have help. We are those guys on site that are helping clean it up and keeping your business open.
Paul Martin: You make a very interesting point that you come after the disaster has occurred not so much before, but there’s probably nobody better to ask than the guy who was always at the disaster scene. What does a typical disaster look like? One of the questions going through my mind is, let’s say we had a big hailstorm come through or something and there’s all kinds of damage and hundreds of properties or hit, how do I get to the top of the list? Is there a relationship building thing that needs to happen, that happens prior to that storm that’s coming through, or I guess just how how you guys deal with being overwhelmed after a big storm or something like that?
Brennen Mills: It is stressful for everyone involved in a large loss. You can feel it province wide, but you know what? We’re in Saskatchewan and it’s a great place to be. Everyone’s understanding, typically, for the most part. Things have to happen and it does take time. There’s so many moving parts and decisions to be made in an insurance claim. Getting in there quick and mitigating that loss to prevent further damage and keeping your business open is.
Paul Martin: Colin, we’ve got about a minute and a half here, before the end of the program and I just want to kind of bring you back in. What we talk about on this program is risk mitigation and that’s what you’re trying to bring this point home today is by bringing Brennen in here. The step-by-step plan we always talk about, does that fit into all of this?

We’ve talked about disaster recovery a ton and and loss mitigation is a big part of that.

Colin Rooke: Yeah. That’s the point that I wanted to make is that as part of our plan we’re connecting people and certainly like Brennen from Saskatoon Fire and Flood are one of those people that we’re connecting our clients with. So I guess really the message I want to leave is don’t wait until you have a problem too. You could talk to Saskatoon Fire and Flood in advance, almost pre-interview just say, “Okay so I want to make sure we have our ducks in a row as part of our planning, as part of our disaster recovery planning.” We’ve talked about disaster recovery a ton and and loss mitigation is a big part of that.
Colin Rooke: So if Brennen has got some time, or it’s a slower part of the season. I mean you could also reach out and say, “Okay, if we have a problem, who do you call? Who would come, what would you do?” That sort of thing. Almost like prequalify the guy cleaning up because at the end of the day, usually Brennen and I would say you would meet your clients in a panicky situation. It doesn’t have to be that way. I think if the business owner is just feeling more comfortable about who would look after their business and that in the event of a loss? I think the whole process can go smoother and it would certainly help dispel myths that call the broker first and we sort it out while the damage is getting worse, so I just wanted to kind of share that point.
Paul Martin: If I reflect back on what I’ve learned here today is that, many businesses probably don’t have that checklist for employees, especially businesses where they might have a lot of transient workers, I’m thinking a fast food outlet or something like that where there’s always turnover in staff. Does everybody know where all the shut off valves are? That’s a really interesting thing. Is there a book or a manual that says, “Here’s the person to call in the event of that thing.” Because I suspect there’s not always a manager on site.
Paul Martin: Brennen, I want to thank you for that. You gave me some good insights on that and thanks for joining us.
Paul Martin: You’ve been listening to Risky Business Commercial Insurance with Butler Buyers and our guest today, Brennen Mills with Saskatoon Fire and Flood, and as always, Colin Rooke, the Commercial Risk Reduction Specialist with Butler Buyers. That’s our program for today. Join us again next time. Talk soon.