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Insurance: Tips of the Trade (Part 1 of 2)

Paul Partyka |

CHICAGO — As a self-service laundry owner, “wearing different hats” is part of the game. How much emphasis one puts on the different aspects of the business is a judgment call. However, one can’t dispute the importance of protecting his business.Insurance may not be a “flashy” subject to some owners, but its importance cannot be stressed enough. Are you comfortable with your insurance knowledge? Are some things about your policy confusing, but you don’t ask questions because time is in short supply?Two insurance representatives offer a bit of advice.LEASE REQUIREMENTS FOR INSURANCE COVERAGE“The most overlooked coverage that owners miss is not even contained in your insurance policy,” Larry Larsen reveals.Larsen has more than 30 years of experience in the ownership, management and construction of self-service laundries. He also serves as an insurance agent for Crusader Insurance Co. in Woodland Hills, Calif.“Most Laundromat owners are bound by a lease contract that they should read to know the lease requirements for insurance coverage.” The lease can require a minimum rating for the insurance company or a minimum financial strength, Larsen explains. Check to see if your state laws or lease provisions allow you to use a nonadmitted insurance company, he adds.“In tough economic times, there are plenty of items you can reduce, but landlord-required insurance coverage is not on the list.”Another area that can go ignored by operators is parking-lot insurance, he says. “Although you may not own the parking lot, you will still be named in any lawsuit if someone stumbles on broken pavement or trips over a laundry cart as they tumble to the ground. You have an affirmative duty to protect your customers, and this includes proper care of pavement, lighting and monitoring of other potential dangers in your parking areas. Some insurance companies provide this type of coverage, and some do not.”How can you ease your parking-lot concerns? One proactive approach is to contact the landlord. “Protect yourself by sending a certified letter to your landlord requesting repairs to the pavement or repair/add an exterior light.“Violence-prone neighborhoods resulting in an assault in your parking lot can also embroil you in a lawsuit. Take reasonable steps when you observe any danger in your Laundromat or parking area. Call the police if trouble occurs, and don’t forget to send a notification to your landlord.”Have you heard about laundry owners dropping their insurance in order to save money? It’s true, Larsen says. “Some people are going ‘naked,’ without any insurance at all. Some owners are lowering their contents coverage to reduce premiums.”Larsen believes it would be better to sell your Laundromat at a loss rather than operate a store without, at the very minimum, liability coverage.If you have any questions or comments about this story, contact Larry Larsen at 714-390-9969, laundromat123@aol.com.Please check back on Friday, Oct. 22 for Part 2 of this story. 

About the author

Paul Partyka

American Coin-Op

Paul Partyka was editor of American Coin-Op from 1997 through May 2011.

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