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And Getting A Delivery Used To Be Easy

So what gives? Having something delivered used to be a snap.  You bought a lamp at Crate & Barrel or your favorite antique store, and the delivery guy arrived at your apartment, plugged it in and voila – let there be light.

No more.  Whether it’s a guy coming to deliver a newly purchased upholstered chair or pick up a rug to clean or replace a gasket in your refrigerator or repair your flat screen TV, increasingly in buildings all over the City, boards are declaring “No Entry” — unless the contractor has the proper papers for passage.  No, not a visa, a Certificate of Insurance – perfectly filled out in every minute detail, including your name, apartment number, and listing as additional insureds the building, the board, the managing agent, and a host of others.

Why the sudden (or maybe not so sudden) demand? Fear of liability.  You know how lots of doctors have been forced to practice defensive medicine thanks to lawyers, like me. Well, buildings have to practice defensive deliveries. Boards want to protect their buildings from potential liability in the event some third party is injured on the premises or causes personal injury or property damage. And now insurance companies are increasingly demanding that boards make residents get these certificates from contractors as a condition to providing coverage on the building.

It’s a process that causes frayed nerves, sometimes motivating residents to take self help rather than comply with rules that seem to make no sense, like the owner who got so ticked off that the doorman wouldn’t let in the refrigerator repairman that she came down and escorted him up as her “guest.”

Lots of times the reason tempers flare is that boards haven’t done a great job explaining why all this paperwork is necessary. It’s a process that sounds logical in theory, but isn’t always in practice because there are both real and perceived inconsistencies in how the rules are applied.

Here’s what you need to know to make sense master the system.

  • Why do I need insurance when a chair, but not food, is delivered? Traditionally, buildings in the city have exempted food deliveries from any insurance requirement supposedly because they pose less risk.  Maybe, but it’s also totally impractical and there’d be a revolution if residents had to get insurance certificates for delivery of their daily “take out” or Fresh Direct fix.
  • Why do I need insurance when someone comes to fix my refrigerator but not when the cable guy comes to make repairs? Lots of buildings already have insurance certificates on file for Verizon and Time Warner and other contractors with whom they regularly do business, which is why you don’t have to get a certificate when one of their service people comes to repair equipment, but you do have to get a certificate when someone comes to fix equipment or appliances from companies for which there is no building-wide certificate on file. And it’s not always possible for the board to get a single certificate because some big companies, like Crate & Barrel,  use different truckers, so you’re on your own.
  • Why does my vendor’s insurance form keep getting rejected? To most people it seems like much ado about nothing, So they omitted my apartment number, or spelled my name wrong or left out the managing agent. Yes, it matters. If the certificate isn’t properly filled out, the insurer might use it as an excuse for disclaiming coverage, subjecting you and the building to potential liability.
  • Why do I have to go through all this when I have my own homeowner’s policy? In part for the building’s sake because your insurance won’t necessarily cover injuries or damage in the common areas. Also for your sake because most homeowners’ policies don’t cover business invitees. like repair people, so you could be left exposed if something happened to them in your apartment.

 

Bottom line: Yes, it’s a nuisance, and no, the rules aren’t entirely consistent, but that’s the way it is – and will probably only get worse, so you’d better learn to live with them if you want to have furniture in your apartment and a TV that works.

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