A large auto dealership had an agreement with a rental store down the road that when the dealership was having one of its Touch the Truck events, the dealership would rent a 20-ft.-by-30-ft. tent.
The event was held at the dealership every year. Participants entered the contest by sending in postcards and were randomly drawn to take part in the annual event.
The idea was that the participants had to keep at least one hand on the truck. If they let go, they were disqualified. The last person with a hand on the truck won the truck. They were given periodic restroom breaks and were provided with food, but one hand had to always remain on the truck.
During the recent event, a storm rolled in. The weather progressively became worse over a couple of hours and the dealership decided to suspend the event until the next day. There was lightning in the area, and they wanted their contestants and their supporters to remain safe. Everyone left and agreed to meet back at the auto lot the next day.
During the night, the tent came loose. It blew around the lot, damaging multiple vehicles. The damage ranged from little scratches to some deep gouges and dents. The tent was located against a fence next to the building. The manager of the dealership watched the surveillance video with the manager of the rental store. They were able to see exactly what happened.
The rental store manager reported the incident to their insurance agent. A claim was opened, and an adjuster was assigned. The video was provided to the adjuster to verify the damage.
During the investigation, it appeared that only one side of the tent was staked in the grass next to the parking lot. The surveillance video did not show the entirety of the four sides of the tent, but one corner of the tent was tied to the bumper of a truck.
The claim adjuster reached out to the rental store manager to discuss what they had seen on the video. The adjuster asked the manager to describe how the tent was anchored. The manager said that he did not know if the tent sides were “anchored” into the grassy area, via tent stakes, or if they were secured with weights or water barrels on the asphalt. He stated that it is possible that nothing was used beyond the rope to the truck bumper.
Often, when a storm causes a tent to come loose, the damage to surrounding areas by the tent is not covered under a rental store’s insurance policy. If the tent is set up correctly, and is anchored according to the manufacturer’s guidelines, it was an act of God and typically is not covered.
In this situation, the tent was not set up according to manufacturer’s guidelines and the rental store’s insurance policy was obligated to pay for the damage to 11 vehicles, which totaled more than $50,000.
Mary Ann Gormly, CERP, is a loss analyst for ARA Insurance, Overland Park, Kan. For more information, call 800-821-6580 or visit ARAinsure.com.