Lots of Lot Losses

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Guest Editorial

Manassas, VA – 9 August 2013 – When you think about claims involving repossessions, most people’s minds will go quickly to the situation that creates a wrongful repossession or breach of the peace.  But some of the most common claims we see are lot related claims.  And in these cases an ounce of prevention can be worth a pound of cure.  You may not be able to prevent every break-in or vandalism loss, but there are things you can do to deter them.

This article will discuss ideas and tips to reduce lot losses.

police_lightsOne of the most obvious ideas is to maintain a secure storage facility. Repossession companies do not typically like the general public to know where they are, but debtors will always find you, after all the lender required to give them an address where they can redeem their vehicle and/or personal property.  So in choosing where to set up or move your storage lot, consider the location.  Is it a known high risk area?  Your local police department likely has information available that can tell you about the frequency and type of crimes that occur in that area.  Are you planning on being in a secluded out of the way area?  On the surface this may seem like the best idea, but a secluded area also means there is less of a chance that a neighboring business or passerby may see and be able to report suspicious activity.

Crime isn’t the only thing to consider when finding a storage location.  Geographic location can play an important role as well.  Special coinsconsideration needs to be made if your lot is in a flood plain, or if you are in an area prone to severe storms, hurricanes, tornados and hail.  If you are in an area known for severe weather conditions, you can purchase items that will help to limit your lot losses.  One of these products is anti-hail netting.  Used frequently in farming environments or orchards, you also can purchase this netting in different sizes and use it to cover all or a portion of your lot to help reduce hail damage.  One provider of this netting is  AmeriShade, www.amerishade.com. Most insurance policies do hail_dmgnot provide coverage for storm related losses, but RSIG’s policy does.  It is still an excellent idea to put preventative measures in place and save yourself the deductible.

Aside from a properly maintained fence, locks and additional security measures like barbed wire, privacy fencing, camera, alarms, business monitoring and lights will also help to avoid lot losses.  If you have a good relationship with local law enforcement, you can also ask them to regularly drive by your location.  While a police presence is never a good thing at the scene of a repossession, having them drive by your lot occasionally can be a deterrent for would be vandals and thieves.  You can also incorporate physical and landscaping barriers to reduce vehicle access.  Temporary or movable barriers can be used to line the inside perimeter of your lot, making it more difficult to get vehicles out.  If this proves too costly to go along the entire perimeter, you could consider using these at any lot entrance. An example of a landscaping barrier would be to create a ditch around the perimeter of your facility or large rocks helping to prevent vehicle access or to make vehicle removal more difficult.

One important factor to keep in mind is that while dogs on the lot may be a favorite security measure, they are a huge potential liability and bwaredamage or bodily injury caused by security animals is generally excluded by most insurance policies, including the one available to RSIG members.

Another tip is to remember to NEVER store personal property inside a repossessed vehicle that is stored on your lot.  Should someone get on your lot, they should never be able to see debtor’s property like purses, wallets, electronics, computers, etc. inside the vehicle.  This sort of eye candy is just inviting someone to “go shopping” at your expense.  So an established procedure for properly inventorying, securing and storing personal property is a good measure to avoid potential lot losses.  Keep in mind that personal property losses are some of the most difficult to handle because

When storing vehicles on your lot, you can also park them in a way that makes it more difficult for someone to get to them.  If space allows do not park them adjacent to your fence. Parking close to the fence allows easier access for someone to cut the fence and damage the vehicle with little attention drawn to it. Parking vehicles close together where it would be difficult for someone to physically get in the vehicle or safely move it without damage is also a tactic that could be used.  This is called “Block-Parking” or “Lot Packing”.

The storage of ATVs on a repossessors lot is also a great concern.  ATVs, motorcycles and recreational vehicles are popular among would be thieves atvand are seldom recovered once stolen.  It is best if possible to keep these items stored inside if possible.  Out of sight, out of mind.  But if indoor storage is not available to you then one member made the suggestion of connecting the units together with a thick chain to make theft a bit more difficult.  You could also utilize a closed loop security system here as well where an alarm cable can be used to connect each item you’re trying to protect.  If the cable is removed an alarm will be tripped.  You could also consider removing the batteries; just remember to put it back upon redemption or transport.  One member who didn’t have indoor storage was able to purchase a storage trailer or shipping containers that was placed on the lot and several ATVs could be stored inside.

Another preventative measure is to make sure you never store vehicles or collateral outside your secured storage area pending transport.  We know that it is difficult sometimes to nail down an exact time a transporter will be at your facility and to make sure that your employee is there to release that vehicle, but allowing collateral to sit unsecured is an invitation for theft and/or vandalism.  It is also important that your employee be there to witness the loading of the vehicle in case a damage claim is filed later and get the transporter to sign that they are receiving the vehicle in the stated condition.

According to most insurers, the most frequent property claims and causes of loss are:

  • Theft,
  • Vandalism,
  • Burglary      and
  • Weather      Related Losses

We hope we’ve addressed ways and provided some helpful information in dealing with each of these scenarios and we’d love to hear about your experiences or tips.

With unmatched expertise and experience, Recovery Specialist Insurance Group (www.rsig.com) offers superior insurance protection, education & training and repossession assignment management technology designed for today’s lender and repossession professional. Have questions, we’re ready to help and can be reached at 703.365.0199.

From the desk of: Dana Loan, Recovery Specialist Insurance Group

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