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Insurance Reps Detail Fire Safety Risks

Scott Wallask, for HealthLeaders Media, July 16, 2009

Insurance company recommendations can actually carry equal weight to mandates from entities such as The Joint Commission or local fire departments.

In some ways, insurance companies act as authorities having jurisdiction, meaning they can enforce codes and regulations, says Mike Widdekind, a property healthcare practice leader at Zurich North American, a carrier in Schaumburg, IL.

For example, insurance representatives often look over architectural blueprints and shop drawings for fire protection systems, much like a local building inspector would.

It is common for insurance carriers to monitor the following life safety aspects in healthcare facilities, as described by Widdekind:

  • Fire protection system performance

  • Preventive maintenance activities

  • Life safety assessments conducted as part of The Joint Commission's Statement of Conditions

  • Plans for improvement filed as part of the Statement of Conditions

Many insurance inspectors will go through the individual elements of performance noted by The Joint Commission under EC.02.03.05, which covers fire protection equipment testing and maintenance, Widdekind says. Complying with Joint Commission standards can be a step in the right direction with insurance carriers too.

Insurance firms may also try to gauge whether a hospital considers the carrier a partner in fire protection or just a source of risk coverage, says Scott Henderson, PE, CFPS, Northeast region engineering manager for Fireman's Fund Insurance Companies based in Novato, CA.

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