Saturday, September 3, 2011

Laundromats and Coin Laundries Need Fire Extinguishers

All Coin Laundries should have the appropriate number of fire extinguishers installed in their business.  Most insurance policies require the fire extinguishers be installed, and just plain common sense should tell a Laundromat owner that a fire extinguisher would be a handy item to have available in a business containing multiple gas fired heaters and dryers.

The State of California requires a public accessible fire extinguisher for every 1,500 Square Feet or any portion thereof of a commercial business location.  The argument made by many Coin Laundry owners that fire extinguishers are stolen does not change the obligation of the owner to provide them in his place of business.

Sometimes a Laundromat owner can appeal to the common sense of the fire inspector and request that they be allowed to post a sign telling the customer that the extinguishers are available in the back room will prevent the constant theft problem.

A second method of slowing the theft problem is to place the extinguishers inside a cabinet with a glass front.  Painting the inside of the glass will also help reduce the theft, but some fire inspectors will cite the Laundromat owner because the tag showing the date of certification (re-charging) cannot be seen.

It’s also important that owners understand the labeling on fire extinguishers and what type of fire they are designed to extinguish.  The Codes on the listed by the numbers “A”, “B”, “C”, "D", and a multiple “ABC” extinguisher that is installed in most Coin Laundries.  Water should never be used to extinguish an electrical fire, so a "C" rated extinguisher that can be used on electrical boxes and appliances is needed.

All extinguishers need to be serviced or re-charged every other year.  Recharge fees should cost about $12.00 to $15.00 per unit.

Original purchase prices should be in the range of $25.00 to $50.00 each.   The same amount of money will be spent on the purchase of a cabinet.  Often the companies that recharge the units have used extinguishers available at reasonable prices.  Shopping around by telephone or the internet can save you money on this safety item because the range and availability can vary greatly.  It's also a good idea to purchase signs that clearly show the location of the extinguisher.  If you can't find the extinguisher in an emergency, it has no value.

Once you have an understanding of the type of extinguisher needed and a good source for buying and having them recharged, please remember to ask the technician to tell you exactly how to use the unit in the event of fire.  Complete your safety task by meeting with your repair, cleaning and attendants to show them how to use the units.

Installing a sign that explains how to use the extinguisher in simple terms is also a good idea.

American Coin-Op and Insurance Information

Monday, August 8, 2011

Why You Need To Carry Property Damage and Liability Insurance – A Truck Meets A Plate Glass Storefront

On August 4th of 2011 an older gentleman made a mistake - or his truck malfunctioned – and he and his truck were propelled through the glass window of a Laundromat in San Antonio, Texas. Thankfully, there was only a minor injury to a little girl in the store at the time of the incident, who was apparently cut from some flying glass.

Vehicles that drive through the fronts of Laundromats are – surprisingly - not that uncommon of a happening in Laundromat insurance claims. Since parking spaces are usually located at the front of Laundromats, it does make sense that if someone pushes the gas instead of the brake, forgets they have their vehicle in drive instead of park, or thinks they are in reverse instead of drive, they could drive through the front of your Laundromat.

Wheel stops, sidewalks and plate glass will not stop a vehicle from entering your store. From the story reported by KSAT12 news reporter Katrina Webber, there was seating just inside the glass storefront which had been occupied just moments before the event.

In a witness statement by Sherri Tucker, as reported by KSAT12 News, "I just heard a big crash and turned around," Tucker said. "All I could think about were the kids at that window where he crashed. I ran back to see if they were OK." Fortunately, no one was seated in the benches by the front windows at the time.

Laundromat - or as they say in Texas, Washateria - owners might want to consider the possibility of vehicle crashes through their store fronts when placing their customer seating. It took about thirty minutes to clean up the glass shards, probably $600.00 for an emergency window board-up service, and about $2,500.00 to replace glass and storefront damage, but it could been much worse.

Insurance liability issues will likely be taken care of by the insurance carrier of the truck owner, but in the event he is not properly insured, then the Laundromat owner’s glass coverage, medical payments (treatment for the little girl), potential claims of liability, and property damage coverages could all come into play.

A good insurance policy from a good insurance company developed and sold by a good Laundromat insurance agent makes Laundromat owners feel protected at moments like these.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Insurance and Laundromat Fires: Including Some Little Known Facts

One of the biggest insurance exposures in a Laundromat is a fire. Most of the reasons for having a devastating fire, as seen in the photographs, can be greatly limited, or eliminated by proper care from the owner.
The majority of fires in Laundromats are caused in conjunction with the following:
1. Build up of lint inside dryers.
(Clean your lint screens)
2. Build up of lint inside the exhaust vents of the dryer.
(Check & clean you dryer vents)
3. Clogged exhaust vends caused by birds and debris.
(Checks that flaps move freely)
4. Cigarettes disposed of in non-fireproof trash cans.
(Buy and use only fire-resistant trash receptacles)

5. Vandalism related – intentional acts – or arson.
(Don’t leave the store open all night or when there are very few customers)
6. Fires in neighboring businesses that spread to the Laundromat.
(Ensure that fire walls – to ceiling - separate your business from your neighbor’s business)
7. Failure to properly maintain and repair safety heat limiting devices – switches - on dryers.
(Never bypass or fail to replace defective safety switches)

8. Owners storing combustible material too close to the back of dryers.
(Teach your cleaning attendants about the danger and don’t do it yourself)
9. Owners storing combustible material too close to the water heaters.
(Teach your cleaning attendants about the danger and don’t do it yourself)
10. Customers washing or drying materials soaked in flammable liquids – such as gasoline soaked rags - or flammable powders.
(Put up a sign of the dangers and instruct your attendants to stop people from washing this type of material)
11. Built up washing powders with oxygen agents, oxygen-based bleach or other oxygen-agents used to promote cleaning. the oxygen residue can assist in ignition of fires when exposed to the heat of a dryer if not properly washed out in the wash cycle.
(Try to stop customers from over soaping in the washers)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Coin Laundry Insurance - Quick Guide

Most people need to have Property and Liability Coverage.  Protection of your Laundromat from fire, vandalism, accidents and natural disasters is a good business practice.  There are five major insurance coverages available - and some would say necessary - for a Laundromat owner to purchase:

1.       property damage
2.       liability
3.       theft and robbery
4.       loss of income
5.       employee dishonesty

Most companies selling insurance for a Laundromat also have available a variety of additional coverages including:

1.       parking lot insurance
          (incidents outside your Laundromat)
2.       extended coverage
          (for additional coverages)
3.       water damage
          (caused by water backing up through the sewer system)
4.       bailee coverage
          (keeping property of others, such as Wash, Dry, Fold operations)
5.       glass insurance for your storefront
6.       store signs (if the wind blows plexiglass out of your sign box)
7.       business interruption insurance
8.       equipment breakdown insurance

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Spotlight on Larry Trapani - a Laundromat and Coin Laundry Insurance Provider

The Laundromat Success Program™ was created by Larry Trapani, and claims to save you money, enjoy more peace of mind, protect and grow your business.

Laundromat fire in progress from the web site of Larry Trapani
"Most successful Laundromat owners have purchased insurance, but they may left themselves unprotected in many ways," says Larry Trapani. "Many are so busy running their business that they address important insurance issues in a reactive fashion. “Larry goes on to state that he believes many Laundromats do not carry adequate insurance to re-open their business in the event of a major or catastrophic loss (such as a major fire.) Larry believes that many people may fail to carry adequate: 

   1. Business Interruption Insurance

   2. Auto Non-ownership Insurance

   3. Umbrella protection

Failing to carry enough coverage can leave the Laundromat owner unable to pay for the unexpected costs after a loss and and the loss of profit.

Larry feels that policies purchased by many owners only provide enough coverage to pay off the banks and lender (secured creditors). He calls this “The Washer-and-Dryer Insurance Trap,"

Larry has created and developed an innovative program to help the Laundromat owner create a detailed plan that ensures he can protect his Laundromat business, and Larry has therefore created The Laundromat Success Program™ to assist a Laundromat owner to easily access his insurance needs.

"We developed this planning process for clients who want to fully protect themselves and their businesses," Trapani says. "We help them understand more fully their current situation and clarify their goals for the future. Then we determine the best way to fully protect their business, and review all of the necessary strategies and tools."
This is certainly a unique and interesting approach to understanding Laundromat insurance needs and a “tip of the hat” should be directed to Larry for developing this program.

Monday, July 11, 2011

The Basics Coverages Needed for Laundromats and Coin Laundries

You need to be careful when you buy insurance for your Laundromat, Card or Coin Laundry.  The high value of the equipment needs to be considered.  The cost to repair these items from fire damage and the time if will take to put your business back in working order, need to be seriously considered.
The front load washers and commercial dryers costs thousands of dollars each:  some washers can cost over $20,000.00 each.  Damage from fire, water or vandalism can put you out of business.  These items – along with your lease requirements – are why you must purchase business insurance.
The first type of insurance you need is Property Insurance (Business Property Insurance) which covers the building that you own or the equipment and inventory against physical loss or damage.  This type of insurance covers:  Washers, Dryers, Fixtures, Decorations, Folding Tables, Seating, Camera Sytems, Alarm System, Phone System and Computer Equipment. Furniture
Even if you do not own the building where your Laundromat is located, you still need to purchase insurance for the equipment you own and any business contents, fixtures, inventory and other supplies stored at your Laundromat.
As the owner, you can elect to insure your property for replacement cost or for actual cash value.  Actual Cash Value  (ACV) pays for the depreciated value of the property.  Replacement Cost Value (RCV) replaces all - or most of the lost property - with brand new equipment;
The second type of insurance you need is Loss of Business Income coverage.  This type of coverage allows you to still receive income in the event of damage closing your Laundromat .  Most often the type of damage that bring Loss of Business Income coverage into play is caused is caused by fire, water damage, roof collapse or other loss – if it is named in your policy – that forces you to close your doors.  If you depend on the income from your Laundromat to love, you need to have this type of coverage.
The third type of insurance you need is Business General Liability Insurance (Liability insurance.)  This is the type of insurance that protects you against lawsuits filed against you as the Laundromat owner.  This insurance is purchased to protect the owner against losses – including negligent acts - for damage, injury or loss to another's property, reputation, or health.
You are afforded coverage for damages, legal fees and court costs whenever someone files a lawsuit against you.  This coverage will also pay up to the policy limit for judgment – or settlement - covered in the terms of the policy.  Most leases will have a provision that requires you as a tenant to carry this insurance a settlement charges are paid by the insuring company when a claim is filed against the business:  often with a provision where you have to also name your landlord on your policy (Additional insured.)
Here are some coverages that are included with most liability policies”
1.       Included in most liability policies will be provision to provide for liability coverage for bodily injury.  This provides coverage – when you are found liable - Bodily Injury - for the health care cost, loss of services and payment to survivors for any loss of life due to a covered death or injury.
2.       Liability insurance also includes Property Damage Liability Insurance.  If a fire causes damage to your neighbors business you need to have this type of insurance to protect you when your business causes damage to the loss of use or damage to the property of another.
3.       Products and Completed Operations (not normally needed for a Laundromat) covers an injury due to the use of your products or services provided, the policy would pay for the resulting damages and any legal expenses up to the policy limits.
4.       Contractual Liability insurance (again seldom needed by Laundromat owners) relates to any liability assumed by the Laundromat owner in various contracts - including a lease between the owner and the landlord.
5.       Medical Payments are covered if a customer is hurt at your Laundromat.  This coverage will pay for medical costs, payments, and funeral expenses, if needed.
6.       Personal Injury Insurance Coverage is a little confusing in the title, but it provides coverage for the Laundromat owner if he is accused of publishing false information, slandering or committing a libel against another, or publishing information that violates a person’s right to privacy.