Loss Control Insights for Petroleum Marketers

Duty to Warn: 4 Steps to an Effective Program


   Propane explosion at home - injuries, total loss of house: $600,000

   Insured delivered propane to residential customer – house exploded, one fatality: $5,000,000

   House destroyed by explosion same day as propane tank filled: $42,000

Duty to Warn

Propane gas is a hazardous material. While you as a propane professional know that very well, it’s likely that your customers don’t fully realize the dangers of propane in the event of a leak or equipment malfunction. That’s why “duty to warn” has become the industry standard for educating consumers. As an expert, it’s your job to protect your customers by providing the information they need to recognize and avoid hazards associated with the product you deliver.
An effective duty to warn program with accurate documentation can help protect your customers and build your reputation as a responsible dealer. It may also provide legal protection in the event of a claim. Not sure if your duty to warn program is adequate? Read about the most important components below to see how your efforts stack up.

1. Put it In Writing

Send your customers information on the hazards of propane. Make sure it includes tips for recognizing a propane leak (scratch and sniff cards are a great way to do this), instructions for how to respond to a leak, information about gas detector availability, emergency contact information for your organization, etc.

2. Document the Distribution

Keep a record of your mailing. Be sure to include the date, a copy of the material sent and a list of customer names and addresses (keep reading to find out how EMC can make this easier for you).

3. Make it an Annual Tradition

To be truly effective, you need to make your notifications a regular habit. Conducting your notifications on an annual basis helps ensure that all customers are getting the information they need, especially more recent ones who may not have received it in the past. For long-term customers, notifying annually provides the repetition that helps insure the information actually “sticks.”

4. Don’t Let Commercial Clients Slip through the Cracks

While some of the most tragic and memorable propane accidents occur in homes, you want to make sure you don’t neglect your commercial customers. If you deliver bulk propane or propane cylinders to commercial entities, you should be sending them the same duty to warn materials as your residential customers.

Free Duty to Warn Service for EMC Customers

EMC Insurance thinks that effective duty to warn programs are important, because informing propane customers about safety concerns can reduce the risk of a propane-related hazard. We value them so much that we provide free duty to warn services to policyholders who deliver propane and have an EMC general liability policy. Here’s how the service works:

  • Get Started – You contact us by email at dutytowarn@emcins.com. We’ll pass your contact information along to our partner company, P3, a compliance and risk management company that has been servicing the propane industry for over 17 years.
  • Identify Customers Securely – P3 works with you to get your customer information. We know you value your customer lists, and P3 is contractually-obligated to maintain your customers’ privacy. Their mailing information is only used for duty to warn notifications and will never be shared with anyone else.
  • Check and Double Check – To maximize accuracy and deliverability, P3 runs your customer list against a U.S. Postal Service database to ensure addresses are valid and will be able to receive the mailing.
  • Letters Go Out – Validated addresses receive a customized letter about propane safety along with a scratch and sniff brochure.
  • Recordkeeping Made Easy – After the mailing you’ll receive a signed certificate confirming the mailing. P3 also keeps track of who received the duty to warn package and when.
  • Annual Notifications – For your conveniences, duty to warn packages are automatically sent annually.

EMC policyholders with a general liability policy can get started by emailing dutytowarn@emcins.com.


Find More Online