Slip-and-Fall Incidents and Other Premises Liability-Related Issues at Hotels
Increasingly, insurance companies are scrutinizing hotels that switch from short-term to extended-stay properties, which can lead to increased rates and the tightening of coverage. There are a number of issues that insurers worry about, such as fires, water damage, slip-and-fall accidents, and security risks. That said, brokers and insurers should be notified immediately about any changes to hotel operations.
Converting a Hotel to Long-Term or Emergency Housing: What That Means for Those Who Choose to Stay There
We’ve seen it all over the news — homelessness has been a continual issue throughout the country. There are also thousands of people looking for asylum in various cities throughout the United States. Well, some states are taking on these issues by taking advantage of the rooms available in certain hotels. For example, a Los Angeles City Council decision in August will require hotels to make vacant rooms available to homeless individuals in 2024 despite the city’s recent announcement that it would use various hotels with lower amounts of business for asylum seekers.
Additionally, during extreme weather or disasters, hotels can be used as emergency or temporary shelters, as a refuge for homeless people, and/or as a relief center for migrants. And we all know of healthcare workers and others who stayed in hotels for extended periods and also adapted their operations during the pandemic.
One thing that’s clear is that the risk profile of a hotel that offers temporary housing to displaced people or migrants on a nightly basis does not change much if the facility is operated nightly for a short amount of time. However, it can change a hotel’s classification from a hotel insurance perspective to a long-term solution if it wants to enter into a lease with a municipality, such as in New York or even Georgia.
What are the problems that may arise?
When hotels choose to move into the long-term rental space, the wear and tear on the property tends to increase, primarily because standard hotel rooms aren’t intended for full-time guests. And undoubtedly, insurance companies will have valid liability concerns about possible drug usage on and around the property as well as problems related to potential sexual abuse and molestation.
Right now, insurers are still willing to provide coverage, but underwriters are looking more into the possible scenarios and doing their due diligence. To be sure, “insurers are being presented with a different type of exposure than what they signed up for,” according to Brad Brown, program president at Griffin, Georgia-based Southern Hospitality Underwriters Inc., part of CRC Group Inc.
“More insurers have exited this class of business and those writing it have introduced manuscript endorsements that may specifically exclude housing of COVID-19 patients, housing of COVID-19 workers and homeless people,” Mr. Brown said. “There are many endorsements to address what is truly a new exposure in this class of business,” Brown added.
The Safety and Security Concerns of an Ever-Changing Industry
Hotel owners and operators must think about managing risks differently when a property becomes switches to an extended stay. Looking at it from a loss prevention and control perspective, a long-term-stay hotel becomes more of a habitational risk.
Owners and managers alike must be vigilant when it comes to dealing with the safety and security of their occupants. For instance, management must take the time to actually enforce no-smoking rules inside the facility and select appropriate outdoor smoking areas (if necessary). They must also be sure to regularly inspect all of the rooms to prevent potential issues with water damage as well as fire hazards.
For sure, we’ve all gone to a hotel with the thought of having the kids just “sleep with us” or create a pretend fort on the hotel room floor. However, we know that doing so and having more occupants in a room that is only equipped for two people can be dangerous in a variety of ways. That said, managers must keep an eye on the occupancy loads in rooms and work hard to diminish the risks.
What a Personal Injury Attorney Can Do to Help You if You’ve Been Injured
Security and safety are top liability concerns in the hospitality and lodging industries. Maintaining awareness of who is supposed to be on the property, who is coming and going, and keeping doors locked as appropriate throughout the day should be top priorities for managers and owners. And when a hotel has short-term and extended-stay occupants, this becomes even more important as there may be more visitors to a property.
Visitors and hotel guests expect some level of safety and security when they visit and choose to stay at a particular hotel. If the owner and/or manager fails to provide a safe and secure environment and something happens that results in harm and/or injury to a guest, they must be held legally responsible.
The incidents that can take place in hotels can vary from minor to exceptionally serious, so it is imperative for anyone who has been injured to work with a skilled personal injury attorney as soon as possible to learn more about their legal rights and options.
Contact our office today to discuss the specifics of your case today.