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Beyond Social Distance

business lesson learned Feb 21, 2021

by Beth A. Block



Mats, bags, video gear, audio systems, oh my! Many of us transport our equipment to other locations. We might be traveling for a test or a graduation, or maybe we’re moving to a new studio space. Some of us might even be using a trailer as a permanent storage unit. Surely, there are more reasons for moving our things than those, but you get the point.

What none of us thinks about while we’re doing this is insurance for all our “stuff,” whether we plan to store it or move it. Be honest — does insurance ever come to mind unless you have a claim? I’ve got a quarter that says it doesn’t. (I’m smiling as I type. Please don’t contact me with serious quarter claims.)

A few months ago, I received a call from a studio owner. She said that during the summer of 2020, she would work out in the park and take her equipment with her every day. In the evening, she would clean the equipment and drive the trailer back to her studio. With all the challenges of adapting to this new reality, she didn’t think twice about leaving the trailer there.

One day an instructor arrived at the studio for the afternoon workout and noticed that the trailer was gone. Someone had driven it away. The instructor called the police so a report could be made. The owner of the studio was the second call. I was the third.

I asked how far away from the studio the trailer had been parked. They measured the distance from the parking spot to the front door of the school: 250 feet, almost the length of a football field.

Remembering that there was a limit on how far from the studio the insured’s property can be for coverage to apply, I pulled out the policy to check. The answer was 100 feet, meaning her situation was a no-go for coverage. In the trailer were mats, video equipment and audio equipment. The total value was $15,000. Ouch!

The insurance policy added insult to injury. When the property was pulled out of the trailer in the park, it was covered. However, the policy had stipulations:

  • You may extend the insurance provided by this Coverage Form to apply to your Covered Property while it is away from the described premises, if it is:
  • Temporarily at a location you do not own, lease or operate;
  • In storage at a location you lease, provided the lease was executed after the beginning of the current policy term;
  • This Extension does not apply to property:
  • In or on a vehicle…

In plain English, if the school owner rented a storage unit after the policy was written, the items would be covered in the storage unit. At renewal time, the owner would need to make sure the storage unit showed up on the policy as a covered location.

That italicized section can be found in every property policy except inland marine policies. That is more insurance-speak, so I’ll clarify: There are two types of property insurance. One is written as part of a package with your liability insurance. The actual title is Commercial Property Insurance. It includes the language printed above.

The second kind is Inland Marine Insurance. It’s more expensive because it covers your stuff no matter where it is, as long as it’s in America and its territories and possessions.

What’s the upshot of all this? Think about your insurance as you’re making business decisions this year. I don’t think this is top of mind for any of us as we’re pivoting hard the way COVID has forced us to, but it should be. That’s why I’m reminding you to make sure you communicate with your insurer where your stuff is and what you’re doing with it. To be extra safe, put it all in writing and send it to your agent.


To contact Beth A. Block, send an email to [email protected] or call (800) 225-0863.


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