Property Insurance - Department

Policies and Procedures for Departmental Property Loss 

The colleges self-insure each property damage loss below $500,000 using a captive insurance policy. This policy has a $5,000 deductible, which "vanishes" if the loss is greater than $5,000. The policy and all claims are managed by the Five College Office of Compliance and Risk Management.

Each college has its own procedures with respect to department losses under $5,000. Some will pay for losses to your department property, as long as your total loss exceeds $250. Losses under $250 must be met by department funds. Department property is any property purchased with department funds. If more than one department is involved in a loss event, it is essential that reports for each department be separated to avoid delays or errors in processing. Check with the Insurance and Claims Specialist or Treasurer's Office for specifics.

The College will pay only for property which is still needed and used and which is repaired or replaced. If you think it is necessary to make a claim for property which you do not use, or do not plan to repair or replace, call the Insurance and Claims Specialist to discuss the particulars. [¹] The College has a $5,000 deductible on property insurance, so your cooperation in helping us effectively manage this program is appreciated.

We will generally replace new for old, of like kind and quality. See below for limitations and specifics.

Your department is responsible to minimize its losses to its best ability. Property should be handled carefully and protected from theft. If the department has a loss situation it should respond immediately to assist in preventing further loss. This may mean separating damaged items from non-damaged items, moving non-damaged items to a safe and secure location, moving non-damaged items out of harm’s way, and immediately addressing problems that can be fixed (e.g. drying or cleaning an item, instead of letting it deteriorate so that replacement is needed). For document drying and restoration, as a result of water or fire damage, we recommend you contact POLYGON at 1.800.422.6379. You may need to expend department funds to respond to emergencies, with the expectation of reimbursement. Please advise the Insurance and Claims Specialist as soon as possible if you have expenses for mitigating a loss.

Types of Losses that Will/Will Not be Covered

In general, the College will cover physical damage losses to department property, including losses caused by fire, water, or other natural causes or events. The College may pay for theft losses arising from burglary, however it reserves the right to not cover losses from preventable theft (e.g. valuable items left in an unlocked room) or preventable loss (e.g. Room 217 floods with every severe rainstorm, and the department chose to put its property on the floor in the room…again!) Items stolen from unlocked vehicles may not be covered. Items that are dropped or damaged due to carelessness may have to be covered out of department funds. IT equipment may not be covered unless the loss arises from an event such as fire or flood.

Losses for wear, tear, gradual depreciation, or mysterious disappearance will not be covered. Mysterious disappearance includes theft of items from an unlocked office, or awareness that something is missing upon taking inventory.

Losses of cash, securities, or valuable papers must be immediately reported to Campus Police and the Treasurer's Office. These losses will not be covered by Risk Management.

Losses involving special or unique items including books in the rare book collection, works of art, other special collections, antiques, manuscripts, etc. require special handling, and the Insurance and Claims Specialist should be informed immediately of such losses.

Making a Claim for Losses

Report the loss in general terms (date, what happened, what property was involved) to Risk Management as soon as possible following the loss. Losses will be assigned a Property Claim No., which you will be advised. Please refer to this number in any correspondence regarding the claim.

Departments may submit claims for:

  • Office or department property (that is, owned by the College, not individuals) including office equipment. 
  • Replacement of damaged books and reference materials plus their reasonable processing costs.
  • Rebinding or conservation work on damaged books and materials
  • If a pair or set has been broken up by the loss, you may:

    • Replace those items lost in the set.
    • Replace the entire pair or set with like kind and quality. If you choose to do this, we may require you to sell the remainder of the damaged set to off-set replacement costs.
    • Supplement the damaged set with an e-version of the set and not replace "hard" copies as long as the e-version does not cost more than either hard-copy replacement option, and it is a one-time expense (i.e. not a subscription). (If you wish to discuss these options, please call the Insurance and Claims Specialist.)
  • Repair/cleaning/related costs. 
  • Student and hourly labor used in responding to the loss event(wages only, no benefit increment). 
  • Hourly labor (wages only, no benefit increment) used to repair or replace the lost items, including finding replacement items, ordering replacement items, cataloging replacement items, preparing damaged items for shipment to binders or conservators, etc. (If you claim processing costs for replacement items on a blanket basis, you may not claim these costs in addition to processing costs.)

If you have other loss costs, please call the Insurance and Claims Specialist to discuss.

Costs which are not insured/reimbursable:

  • Management time (salaried labor) used to supervise and respond to the loss event except as may be specifically agreed upon.
  • Time/costs to recreate lost original documents, or other original materials. Replacement cost does not include the cost of staff time to re-create any document for which you have lost the original. We will pay only for the copy or printing cost per page (about $.06/page). Therefore, if you have lost work product, such as photocopies of class worksheets, you may recover only the cost of the copies (i.e. #pages lost x $.06).
  1. When you are ready to replace an item, or send it for repairs, prepare the purchase order (if used) and send it or the invoice in Five College mail to:

    Janitza Matta
    Five College Compliance and Risk Management
    c/o Mount Holyoke College
    8 Park Street, East

    Be sure to keep a copy of your paperwork for your records, and note the claim number on the invoice or purchase order you send to us. We will process the invoice or purchase order for payment. We will not send any documentation back to you. Invoices and purchase orders are usually processed for payment within 14 days. If you are replacing items and claiming the processing costs, please attach a separate list of items being replaced, and state the total amount claimed.
  2. To submit a claim for labor costs, you must provide a list of the employees who worked on the loss, their hourly wage, the hours (dates, times and total time) worked, total cost and work performed.

Please do not hesitate to call the Insurance and Claims Specialist if you have any questions about your claim.

Preventing Losses

Departments must take care with their property and guard it from loss. Keep your office doors locked when no one is in the office, and keep valuable property in the office under lock and key as much as reasonably possible.

Do not store any items of value or items that could be damaged by water on the floor. Water is the primary cause of property loss at the College, and nothing should be stored on floors. If you must use the space, store items on short (2"-3" platforms).

Use surge protectors in lieu of extension cords. Make sure that all extension cords are UL Approved. Keep extension cords off the floor because of the combined hazard of water and electricity.

Report facility problems immediately to Facilities Management/Physical Plant. This includes evidence of leaks or actual leaks; all electrical hazards, including getting shocks from something unexpected; any physical damage to your facility or any problem that you think could cause a property loss or injury. Ask to have the problem corrected. Follow up with Risk Management if the condition(s) persist.


[¹] For example, because of this loss, you now have a partial set of a periodical, and another area college has partial set. You want to put the two partial sets together to make a whole set, and it will go to the other school. There are costs associated with this work that you would like to recover.