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Zwirn warning re ballots and comments due on UL change permitting operators to work from home
June 26,  2021
Zwirn warning re ballots and comments due on UL change permitting operators to work from home
          UL and The Monitoring Association is proposing a change to UL regulations regarding central station operations.  The new rule would permit operators in UL Listed central stations to monitor alarms from their homes.  UL is asking for comments and voting on the proposal by June 28, 2021, which is this Monday.  Those interested should contact UL or The Monitoring Association directly. 
          I haven’t given the issue much thought and I have no opinion yet.  Jeff Zwirn does have an opinion; he believes the proposal permitting operators to monitor from home poses significant risk to alarm customer and he questions whether central stations condoning and implementing the new rule will be adversely affecting their E&O coverage.
          Here is Jeff’s analysis on the matter:
          In concert with The Monitoring Association (TMA), formally the Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA), UL, Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. wants to change UL-827 to allow for central station operators across the country to monitor alarm systems from the operator's home or apartment.  With over 45 years of specialized education, skill, knowledge, training and experience and being involved across the country in thousands of expert forensic cases and claims against both alarm companies and central stations, it is my opinion that this UL -827 proposal is nothing short of a recipe for disaster that both UL and the TMA are the architects of.
  1.  No alarm company and/or central station should needlessly endanger their subscribers' health, safety, and welfare to increase their profits.
  2.  Is it ever acceptable for an Alarm Company and/or Central Station to put the safety and security of its subscribers at risk to increase their profitability?  NO.
  3.  Will UL Listed Central Stations increase their profitability by allowing its operators to work from their home or apartment? YES.
  4.  Is in-home/apartment monitoring just as safe and reliable as monitoring from inside the four walls of a UL Listed Central Station?  NO.
  5.  Can an Alarm Company and/or UL Listed Central Station control what actually happens in operators' homes or apartments?  NO.
  6.  Can an Alarm Company and/or UL Listed Central Station reliably supervise home/apartment operators compared to operators being supervised inside the four walls of a UL Listed Central Station? NO.
  7.  Do alarm company and/or monitoring contracts provide the alarm company and/or UL Listed Central Station with the ability to make material changes in the way they monitor an alarm account by allowing its operators to work in their homes or apartments instead of inside the four walls of a UL Listed Central Station? NO.
  8.  Without your subscribers' knowledge, consent, or authority, can an alarm company and/or UL Listed Central Station covertly change the way they monitor subscribers from inside the four walls of a UL Listed Central Station to the operators' homes/apartments? NO.
  9.  Is UL and/or the TMA going to indemnify any Alarm Company and/or a UL Listed Central Station in the event of a claim that the central station operator in their home and/or apartment was distracted during their monitoring shift and, as a result, failed to take appropriate action?  NO.
  10.  Will insurance carriers of the alarm and central station industries deny coverage in the event of loss to property, serious personal injury, or death as a result of the monitoring of the alarm system being performed from an operator's home or apartment instead of a UL Listed Central Station, to the extent the claim is based upon the central station operators not being properly supervised?  IT DEPENDS, BUT IF THE ANSWER IS NO, THE ALARM COMPANY IS UNINSURED.
  11.  As a condition precedent of getting insurance coverage, many insurers require that their insureds agree to the terms and conditions of what is known as a protective safeguard endorsement and/or contract warranties. The purpose of these requirements is to lower the loss/risk potential to the insurance company in the event of burglary and/or a fire in that it is known that a properly installed and monitored alarm systems can help reduce the risks of loss from burglary and/or fire.   In the past it was common knowledge to find  insurers who require UL Certificated Burglar Alarm Systems and/or fire alarm systems that were monitored by a UL Listed Central Station.
          In the event of a loss if it is determined that the insured did not comply with the terms and conditions of the protective safeguard endorsement or contract warranties of their policy of insurance, it allows the insurers to deny coverage to their insured and not be responsible to pay the claim.
          With this in mind if UL Listed Central Station Monitoring changes to in-home/apartment monitoring, a competent argument could be made by the insured (your subscriber) that they relied on the representations of you being the alarm company and/or the UL Listed Central Station and that your decision to change to in-home/apartment monitoring without there knowledge, consent and authority was a proximate cause of the originally insured subscriber losing its insurance coverage.
12.  Does an insurance company and/or Plaintiff's lawyer investigating a loss of property, serious personal injury, and/or death have a right to demand discovery of all of the operator's cell phone records, social media, computer activity, separate and apart from the central station operator’s computer, texts, and emails during the period of time that the central station operator was charged with the duty to monitor and react to alarm signals for a particular account?
13.  Will subscribers of alarm accounts agree to pay the same monitoring rate that they were paying for as to UL Listed Central Station Monitoring compared to the monitoring of alarm systems from the operator's homes and apartments? NO.
14.  Are there CDC guidelines that require essential workers who monitor alarm systems from inside a UL Listed Central Station, from working inside this environment due to COVID 19? NO.
15.  It has been erroneously suggested by UL and the TMA that allowing operators to monitor alarms from their homes or apartments will address the operator's disabilities and religious beliefs. The argument that Disabilities and Religious Beliefs have not been properly addressed for decades in UL Listed Central Stations is absurd and erroneous.
  16.  Do you think that liability is reduced when it is argued that the Alarm Contractor/UL Listed Central Station put profitability over the safety and security of its subscribers by allowing alarm systems to be monitored by operators from their homes and/or apartment?  NO.
  Jeffrey D. Zwirn, CPP, CFPS, CFE, SET, FASI&T, CHPA-IV, MBAT, NFPA 3000(PS), President
IDS Research & Development, Incorporated 
Tenafly, New Jersey 07670 

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Ken Kirschenbaum,Esq
Kirschenbaum & Kirschenbaum PC
Attorneys at Law
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