Does MJ have a policy on fire drills?

While fire drills are a good practice from an insurance perspective, they are not required to maintain coverage. There are no policy conditions that require fire drills or that would exclude coverage without fire drills being conducted. We recommend you follow the local/campus fire department’s recommendations.

Are we allowed to have fish in the chapter house?

It is always our policy for you to follow your policies – if your housing agreements state that there are no pets allowed, we encourage you to maintain that policy. We recommend that you contact your sorority headquarters to determine what your organization’s pet policy is.

We certainly would discourage large aquariums as they can be difficult to care for properly (and in a sorority house we know that it can be difficult to enforce care for any item that is community property, without relying on the staff) and can cause considerable damage with water leaks, breakage, etc if something goes wrong. Also, without the proper attention can cause unpleasant odors.

Smaller fish bowls cause less of a concern from a potential property damage perspective, but can still be problematic in the tight spaces that make up most sorority house residential areas.

When do we need to increase our property insurance?

Whenever there are physical changes (for example: renovations, additions, fire safety equipment, leak detection, etc.)  to the chapter house, please inform your Client Executive. The national property policy is written on a blanket basis, based on the total values of all properties insured under your organization’s national insurance program, which is a significant benefit of being a client of MJ Sorority.

While there is a blanket limit for your organization, we at MJ get to that blanket limit by individually evaluating the replacement cost of each location and then adding that value. We don’t assign a blanket cost per square foot because that varies by region and area. We determine those values in the following ways:

  • Discussion with the owner of the facility to determine either their recent cost to build, for new buildings or additions, or the projected cost per square foot to re-build their building as determine by a trusted contractor in that area or general information from the area
  • A comprehensive appraisal process was completed in 2008 that provided baseline values for each location. Each year we go through an analysis of the market and determine whether we need to do an inflationary increase across the board each year.

If your location has a California earthquake policy, those policies are written based on your specific location, so it is important that those limits are exactly accurate. Contact your Client Executive for additional information.

For more information, check out our House Corporation Inventory Checklist or don’t hesitate to contact us.

Is there an MJ insurance policy regarding AEDs in chapter facilities and what, if any, requirements there may be for certification and use?

We do not have any specific policies or requirements for Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) in chapter houses. They are starting to be so ubiquitous that people expect them to be around and, as we understand it, they are very easy to operate. As with any safety feature, it is important to manage expectations of parents/members/visitors so that there’s no guarantee from the chapter and that it is still a sorority house, not a health clinic. It will also be critical that members know and understand at all times that this is a medical device for emergencies only and is not intended to be used as a toy or to be funny.

Click here for more guidance on the use of AEDs.

What is MJ’s position on hosting a blood drive at the chapter house?

We do not have any risk management concerns with blood drives, as long as the chapter has gone through the proper event planning procedures with their respective sorority and does not violate any of their sorority’s risk management policies.

Any time that you have extra people of property, you are increasing your liability – it’s just a matter of determining your risk tolerance. Contact your Client Executive with any specific questions.

Does MJ have a stance on gas range versus electric stove for chapters with live-in members who utilize the kitchen to cook?

We typically discourage members from having access to kitchen equipment beyond just a toaster, microwave, coffee maker and refrigerator.  This is particularly important in houses that have commercial kitchens because the stoves, ovens, etc as well as other large equipment that can be tricky and unsafe to operate without special training.  While we understand that there are many members that live in smaller residential-type houses around the country that do have access to residential kitchen equipment,  we are concerned that there are risks associated with allowing members even that kind of equipment – burns, leaving the oven on and setting fire, etc. As with most things, it is up to each organization to determine if they are comfortable with the level of risk.

That all said, I would think that an electric range would be safer than a gas range because you avoid the chance of a gas leak or catching something on fire from the regular open flame.

What is MJ’s risk management position on string lights?

We have had a claim in which Christmas lights that were wrapped around curtains on a curtain rod were left plugged in for several days (maybe weeks) and caught on fire. That said, string lights may be safe if members are willing to follow the safety recommendations, and it doesn’t go against your organization’s internal policies.

Review this resource from Travelers Risk Control for several risk management guidelines regarding the use of holiday decorations.

What is your risk management position on electric blankets?

Like any electric appliance, electric blankets can spark fires in the home that damage property and threaten lives. To reduce your risk of fire when using one of these blankets, remind your members to do the following:

  • Switch the unit off when finished using it.
  • Inspect blanket daily for any signs of damage or wear, and replace blanket if you spot problems such as frayed wires.
  • Use and maintain blanket according to the manufacturer’s instructions, and replace it at least every ten years even it if still appears in good condition.
  • Make sure the electric blanket is plugged into a single outlet and not daisy-chained to one outlet, increasing the risk for overload.

There are some health conditions (pregnancy, diabetes, to name a few) for which doctors discourage the use of electric blankets. Make sure your member residents have cleared the use of an electric blanket with their health care provider.