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Contractor Insurance and OSHA's Fatal Four

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Oct 28, 2018

Contractor insurance costs in Philadelphia and elsewhere can be lowered by decreasing the rate of construction-related accidents.This is the first in a series of four blogs that will focus on what OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) calls the Fatal Four – the four main safety hazards that account for a majority of all construction worker deaths, and therefore have the greatest impact on workers compensation insurance costs for the construction industry.

In 2016, there were 4,693 worker fatalities in private industry, and 991 of those fatalities were in construction. That means that 21% or one in every five worker deaths were in construction. There’s no denying that worksites can be dangerous places to work.

63.7% of Construction Worker Deaths 

The Fatal Four were responsible for 63.7% of construction worker deaths in 2016; eliminating the Fatal Four would save 631 construction worker lives in the U.S. every year. Imagine how reducing injuries and fatalities that involve the Fatal Four could help your business lower contractor insurance costs, not to mention improve employee morale. 

The Fatal Four Hazards

Numbers are based on the 2016 construction industry:

  • Falls accounted for 38.7% of deaths
  • Being struck by an object accounted for 9.4%
  • Electrocutions accounted for 8.3%
  • Caught-in/between accounted for 7.3%

What are Caught-In/Between Hazards?

Caught-in/Between accidents caused 73 construction worker deaths in the U.S. in 2016. These accidents occur when someone (or a part of someone like a hand or leg) is caught, crushed, squeezed, compressed, or pinched between two or more objects including getting caught, struck or crushed from materials, equipment or a collapsing structure. Although similar to struck-by accidents, caught-in/between accidents are a result of crushing injuries and not the initial impact.

Examples of caught-in/between accidents include the following:

  • Trenching cave-ins
  • Being pulled into or caught in machinery and equipment including strangulation caused by clothing being caught in running machinery
  • Being compressed or crushed between objects that are rolling, sliding, or shifting such as between a truck frame and hydraulic bed that is lowering

Trenching Accidents

One cause of caught-in/between accidents is improperly protected trenches and excavations. A trench that is five or more feet deep needs to have a protective system, and a trench that is 20 or more feet deep requires that a professional engineer design the protective system.

This includes proper sloping and benching to avoid collapse, shoring to support the sides, and trench boxes and shields to protect workers from being crushed or buried by a cave-in.

Another precaution is to avoid using heavy equipment near an excavation when workers are inside the trench to help prevent cave-ins and equipment falling into the trench.

Machinery Accidents

Follow manufactures safety instructions and do not remove safety guards from power tools or machinery. Wear loose-fitting clothing or anything that can get caught in moving parts and pull you in. 

When power tools and machinery are not being used or when doing any repairs or maintenance on them, the tools should be properly de-energized.

Heavy Equipment Accidents

Wear seat belts and safety restraints when operating a piece of heavy equipment and don’t overload or overwork the equipment to avoid tipping it over. When working around heavy equipment, remember that operators may not have a clear line of sight in every direction, so workers should not place themselves between a moving vehicle and an immovable object.

Reducing Accidents Through Training 

To reduce the number of injuries and fatalities caused by caught-in/between hazards, workers need to be adequately trained. They need to understand what hazards to look for and how to avoid them. If implementing these safety measures, saves even one life, isn’t it worth taking the time to train your employees properly? And as a bonus, you'll also help lower your contractor insurance rates.

 

How to Save on Contractor Insurance

Construction Insurance for Philadelphia, Lehigh Valley, Berks County, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Erie, PA and beyond.Creating safer work sites is just one way to save on contractors insurance. Another way (and it's so easy) is to work with American Insuring Group. Our independent agents specialize in contractors insurance, so we can help determine the right coverage for you.

Plus, as brokers, we can compare the cost of that insurance among many competing insurance companies to make sure that you’re getting the right insurance protection at the best possible price.

To learn more, give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or find us online.

Tags: Contractor Insurance, Construction Insurance, Workers Compensation Insurance, workers comp costs

4 Ways to Minimize Contractor Insurance Losses

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Oct 14, 2018

Follow these steps to reduce contractors insurance losses  in PA, DE, NJ and beyond.Murphy’s Law states that if something can go wrong, it will go wrong, and it’s a law that could have been written with the construction industry in mind! There are so many moving parts, activities, and different players all working on a location that has potential hazards around every corner.

So it’s essential that you ensure that you have proper construction and contractor insurance coverage to protect your business. Major losses can do more than just set your business back; they can put you out of business.

Here are four guidelines to minimize your contractor insurance losses:

1 - Carefully Inspect All Insurance Certificates

Every subcontractor you hire should provide certificates that prove they have the necessary insurance coverages, but it’s also important to thoroughly inspect these certificates, which provide only the bare minimum information such as the carrier and the limits of the insurance.

You should have a broker such as American Insuring Group who specializes in contractors’ insurance review all your subcontractors’ policies to ensure that there is enough coverage to protect you if that subcontractor causes an injury or damage and a claim is filed.

Subcontractors often try to save money by purchasing the least expensive insurance available, so you may want to require specific coverage limits, types of coverage, and exclusions based on the scope of work the contractor will be performing and the size of the project.

2 - Force Subcontractors to Take Some of the Responsibility

It’s always a good idea to have a contract in place that clearly states who is responsible for what before something happens including hold harmless or indemnity agreements to protect you from losses.

In addition, the written contract should state that a subcontractor is responsible for some portion of the deductible if they are in any way responsible for any losses. You can also shift some of your losses onto their insurance policies by requiring them to name your company as an additional insured on their policies.

3 - Consider Wrap-up Insurance

When you work on large-scale projects with dozens of subcontractors, it can become overwhelming to keep track of all the different insurance policies involved. This is a good time to consider purchasing General Liability Wrap-Up Insurance. This type of policy protects the owner, general contractor, and all enrolled subcontractors working on the project.

It can be purchased by either the owner or general contractor and is generally used for residential projects with construction costs starting at $10 million and commercial projects starting at $20 million. Wrap-up Insurance can provide cost savings, better control of insurance coverages, and the peace of mind that your business is appropriately protected in the event of a loss. Additional policies can be purchased for excess liability, professional liability, builder’s risk, and pollution liability.

Since the owner or general contractor covers the cost of Wrap-Up Insurance, you can help offset that cost by having subcontractors contribute to the cost of the insurance through bid deductions.

4 - Think Twice About Cost-Cutting Measures

The cost of liability insurance is based on the cost of the project, so it may be tempting to bring the cost of the project down by using cheaper materials. However, it’s important to remember that inferior materials can add to your losses because they’re more likely to wear out earlier, break, or malfunction in some way. You’ll want to weigh the cost savings with the risk.

Working With The Right Insurance Agency is Key - Contact Us Today! 

As you know, every project is unique. That’s why it’s so important to work with an insurance agent who specializes in contractors insurance and knows how to see that you’re adequately insured and protected. Give American Insuring Group a call at (610) 775-3848 or (800) 947-1270 or contact us online to speak with one of our contractors’ insurance specialists.

Tags: Contractor Insurance, Construction Insurance, Wrap Up Insurance, Business Insurance

Workers Comp Insurance & Protecting Workers from Asbestos

Posted by David Ross on Mon, Mar 30, 2015

Protecting employees from the hazards of asbestos exposure is the right thing to do, and it can help lower workers comp insurance costs, too. Serving Philadelphia, Lancaster, Lebanon, Reading, Allentown, Harrisburg, York, Pittsburgh, Erie, PA and beyond.You say you have good business insurance, and that you've taken the time to obtain the right workers compensation insurance protection for your employees and your business. Good for you!

But, have you taken all the proper precautions to protect your construction workers or other employees from asbestos exposure? Doing so is the right thing to do for their protection, and over time it could also lower your workers compensation insurance costs.

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral-based material that is widely used in many building products because it is resistant to heat and corrosive chemicals and does not conduct electricity. Asbestos fibers are very fine and can remain suspended in the air for hours. Asbestos comes in all shapes, sizes, and colors, and it’s extremely difficult to see. 

Asbestos that is in good condition and undisturbed is safe, but scientists have confirmed that when asbestos materials start to rot or are disturbed by cutting, scraping, drilling, or sanding, toxic fibers are released into the air.  Once breathed in, these tiny fibers (1,200 times thinner than a human hair) can get trapped in the lungs and remain there for a long time.  As these fibers accumulate, they cause scarring and inflammation, which can affect breathing and cause significant health problems.

Asbestos has been classified as a carcinogen (cancer-causing substance).  Continued exposure to asbestos can cause mesothelioma (a cancer that affects the membranes lining the lungs and abdomen), asbestosis (scarring of the lungs, which causes a loss of lung function that often progresses to disability and death), lung cancer, pleural plaques, and cancers of the esophagus, stomach, colon, and rectum. 

Often, the symptoms don’t appear until many years after the first exposure (20-50 years is the average gap).  Even short-term exposure to a significant amount of asbestos can lead to breathing problems, coughing, and shortness of breath.  And, there is evidence that family members of workers heavily exposed to asbestos face an increased risk of developing mesothelioma, as a result of exposure to asbestos fibers brought into the home on the shoes, clothing, skin, and hair of workers. According to the World Health Organization, 43,000 people die annually from asbestos (10,000 Americans).

Banned in 55 Counties

Asbestos has been banned in 55 countries.  Its use is restricted in the U.S. (asbestos must account for less than 1 percent of the product.), but it has not been banned.  Two million metric tons of the substance are produced every year worldwide. Many U.S. companies have phased out most products that contain asbestos; however, asbestos building materials still exist at many jobsites – especially homes and commercial buildings built before the 1970’s.  In 1989, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) banned all new uses of asbestos; however, uses developed before 1989 are still allowed.  

Why Construction Workers are at Risk:

Everyone is exposed to asbestos at some time during their life.  Low levels of asbestos are present in the air, water, and soil.  However, most people don’t become ill from their exposure.  People who become ill from asbestos are usually those who are exposed to it on a regular basis. 

Throughout the twentieth century, asbestos was incorporated into thousands of construction products, including fire retardant coatings, concrete and cement, bricks, pipes, gaskets, insulations, drywall, flooring, roofing, joint compound, paints, and sealants. Asbestos is a serious risk for construction workers of any trade.  Demolition workers who unsafely dispose of asbestos experience some of the highest risks.  Roofers, electricians, drywall workers, painters, plumbers, and laborers all face regular exposures, but anyone working on an older structure should be cautious of asbestos.

According the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, nearly one-quarter of worker deaths caused by asbestosis between the years 1990-1999 were in the construction trades, by far the most dangerous industry in terms of asbestos exposure.

If your employees perform any of the following tasks, they are at risk of breathing asbestos fibers:

  • Cut, drill, sand, or otherwise disturb textured wall/ceiling material or drywall that contains asbestos
  • Collect asbestos samples for laboratory analysis
  • Remove or repair pipe insulation that contains asbestos
  • Strip electrical wiring that contains asbestos insulation
  • Remove ceiling tiles that contain asbestos
  • Drag cable or wiring through asbestos-containing vermiculite insulation or ceiling tiles, or through asbestos-cement conduit
  • Remove vinyl floor tiles or linoleum that contains asbestos
  • Demolish concrete block that contains asbestos-containing vermiculite insulation
  • Remove asbestos-containing asphalt roofing materials

How Can You Protect Your Employees from Asbestos?

  • Read and understand the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations covering asbestos exposure in general industry and construction www.osha.gov/SLTC/asbestos
  • Train employees who will be working with and around asbestos, including
    • How to recognize asbestos-containing materials http://www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos/gallery.htm
    • Awareness of the health hazards of asbestos
    • Proper use of personal protective equipment
    • Proper handling, removal, and disposal of asbestos
    • Develop and implement an exposure control plan for asbestos work
    • Have qualified people conduct risk assessments for any asbestos-containing materials that might be disturbed
    • Ventilate workspaces
    • Monitor employees for asbestos exposure levels
    • Keep warning signs and instructions in areas where asbestos-related work is performed
    • Require protective clothing, such as overall, gloves, foot coverings, face shields, and goggles.
    • Use protective equipment , such as respirators
    • Supply shower facilities and other post-exposure precautions
    • Require medical examinations for workers who are exposed to high levels of asbestos

Having the Right Health Insurance and Worker's Comp Insurance Pays Off

If one of your employees still becomes ill from exposure to asbestos while working for you, the right insurance – both liability, health, and workers’ compensation insurance – will help ensure the best care with the least financial impact. 

We're Here to Help

To determine your business insurance needs, contact American Insuring Group at (800)947-1270 or (610)775-3848.  We're independent insurance agents who offer insurance from over 25 competing brands. We’ll make sure you have the right coverage for your business at the right price. Contact us today.

Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, Construction Insurance, Construction Risk Insurance, Contractor Insurance, workers comp, workers comp costs

3 Business Insurance Must-Haves for the Construction Industry

Posted by David Ross on Thu, Feb 19, 2015

3 Construction Insurance Must-Haves

Must-have construction insurance tips for Reading, Philadelphia, Lancaster, Harrisburg, Allentown, Pittsburgh, Erie, State College, PA and beyondWhether you’re a subcontractor or a general contractor – whether you build small backyard sheds or giant commercial buildings – whether you’re a one-man remodeling business or a multi-million dollar construction company, there are three types of insurance you need to consider.  In other words, the size of your business and the size of the project make little difference.  If you want to protect your investment, your employees, and even your business, there are three types of commercial insurance to consider: Liability Insurance, Builders Risk Insurance, and Flood Insurance. 

Commercial Liability Insurance (A.k.a. Commercial General Business Liability Insurance)

Commercial Liability Insurance is a critical part of any business’s insurance portfolio and particularly pertinent in the construction industry where accidents and injuries are more common. Commercial Liability Insurance protects you and your company if someone gets hurt on your property or if you or an employee causes property damage or injury on a job site.  This insurance helps cover medical and legal defense costs and settlements if you are sued.  Extended litigation (including attorney fees and court costs) can quickly deplete your cash reserves - even if the claims are found to be unwarranted.  

The amount of liability insurance is proportionate to the cost of the project.  Generally, you should have coverage that is two to three times the amount of the construction project budget.  In addition, businesses with higher risk for damages, such as roofing contractors, may need higher coverage.

Before you begin to build, repair, or remodel any structure – even as a subcontractor - common business standards require that you provide evidence of liability insurance.  Adequate General Liability Insurance safeguards your business – even in today's litigious environment.

Builder’s Risk Insurance (A.k.a. Course of Construction Coverage)

Builder’s Risk Insurance (construction insurance) is property insurance that covers damage to a building during construction.  It may cover just the structure itself, or it can include materials, fixtures, and/or equipment being used in the construction or renovation of the building.  Lending and municipal authorities will often require this insurance, and it can apply to both new construction and remodeling projects.

Most Builder’s Risk Insurance policies cover damage caused by fire, wind, lightning, hail, theft, vandalism, and damages by aircraft and vehicles. Items that generally are not covered include damage due to earthquake, employee theft, water damage, and mechanical breakdown.  Damage resulting from faulty design, planning, workmanship, or materials is rarely covered, and it’s important to note that Builder’s Risk insurance doesn’t cover tools and equipment or the property of others (that’s why it’s important for sub-contractors to have their own insurance).

Flood Insurance

Flood insurance is typically covered by the National Flood Insurance Program and usually has a 30-day waiting period before entering its coverage period.  This is done so the insurance isn’t purchased only when a flood is expected. 

Flood insurance is required in high-risk areas and strongly recommended in moderate-to-low risk areas.  It normally covers damage caused by tidal waves, overflow of inland water, unusual accumulation of runoff water, and water exceeding normal levels. 

 

We're independent insurance agents serving offering quality construction insurance protection for Philadelphia, Reading, Pittsburgh, Erie, Harrisburg, State College, Lancaster, Lebanon, Allentown, Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania and beyond.For more customized information about your construction insurance or contractor insurance needs, contact American Insuring Group at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848. We'll help get you the right coverage for your projects at the right price. That's because we're independent agents offering over 25 competing brands of insurance, so we're free to find you the best deal in quality insurance protection. Contact us today.

 

 

Tags: Builders Insurance, Construction Insurance, Construction Risk Insurance, Contractor Insurance, Flood Insurance, Commercial Insurance Allentown PA, Commercial Insurance Harrisburg PA, Commercial Liability Insurance, Commercial Insurance, Business Insurance, Commercial Insurance Philadelphia PA

Construction Insurance Premiums Tied to Construction Safety

Posted by David Ross on Wed, Jan 21, 2015

Construction Insurance protection and tips. Serving Philadelphia, Reading, Lancaster, Allentown, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Erie, State College, Lebanon, York, PA and beyond.Every employer is responsible for insuring a safe working environment for his or her employees. If you’re in construction, workplace safety should move to the top of your priorities because more than 20% of the work-related fatalities in 2013 occurred in the construction industry. 

STEP #1: Identify Construction Safety Hazards

First, you need to identify potential hazards.  OSHA lists the following hazards for individuals in the construction industry:

  1. Falls (from heights),
  2. Trench collapse,
  3. Scaffold collapse,
  4. Electric shock and arc flash/arc blast,
  5. Failure to use proper personal protective equipment, and
  6. Repetitive motion injuries.

STEP #2: Address Construction Hazards

Next, you need to address those hazards.  OSHA has identified the following as some of the most frequently cited hazards:

  1. Scaffolding – Approximately 2.3 million construction workers regularly use scaffolds, and it is estimated that 4,500 injuries and 50 fatalities related to the use of scaffolding occur each year.  To help avoid some of these injuries and fatalities, you need to ensure that scaffolding is erected by a competent person using stable supports on solid footing and that it is inspected regularly.  Scaffolding should be sound; located at least 10 feet from electric power lines; equipped with guardrails, midrails, and toeboards; and accessible by ladders or stairways.
     
  2. Fall protection – Falls account for the greatest number of fatalities in the construction industry.  They’re caused by unstable work surfaces, failure to use fall protection equipment, and human errors.  Using guardrails, fall arrest systems, safety nets, covers and restraint systems, you can prevent many deaths and injuries caused by falls.
     
  3. Ladders – there are approximately 24,882 injuries and 36 fatalities each year due to falls on stairways and ladders used in construction.  To avoid some of those falls, you need to use the right ladder for each task, inspect ladders regularly, ensure that ladders are long enough to safely reach the work area, and never over-load ladders. 
     
  4. Head protection – You need to ensure that workers wear hard hats where needed to reduce serious head injuries that can result from blows to the head, from falling objects, or other hazards.
     
  5. Hazard communication – In order to avoid chemical burns, respiratory problems, fires and explosions caused by not recognizing the hazards associated with chemicals, you should maintain a Material Safety Data Sheet (MSDS) and make the information accessible to employees.  Plus, you need train employees on how to read those MSDS and provide personal protective equipment, a written spill control plan, and spill clean-up kits.
     
  6. Electrical – Electric shock, electrocution, fires, and explosions can be serious workplace hazards in the construction industry.  To avoid these hazards in your workplace, ensure that all electrical tools are properly grounded and extension cords have grounding prongs, locate and identify all overhead electrical power lines and inspect and ensure that equipment and materials never come within ten feet of those lines,  and maintain all electrical tools and equipment.

Ensuring the safety of your employees is important to the health and safety of your employees and the health and safety of your business.  Neglecting the safety of your employees can cause lawsuits, higher health insurance premiums, higher construction insurance premiums, and higher workers compensation premiums and related costs. 

Get the Right Construction Insurance

Get the right construction insurance at the right price from American Insuring Group.To learn more about reducing your construction insurance costs while acquiring quality insurance protection, contact an American Insuring Group agent at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848. We're Independent Insurance Agents, so we're free to shop among many competing insurance carriers to find the right insurance at the best price, including construction insurance, worker's compensation insurance, and every other type of insurance your business may need. Contact us today. 

Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, Construction Insurance, Contractor Insurance, Commercial Insurance Allentown PA, Commercial Insurance Lancaster PA, Commercial Insurance Harrisburg PA, Accident Insurance, Commercial Insurance, Commercial Insurance Reading PA, Business Insurance, Commercial Insurance Philadelphia PA, Commercial Insurance York PA, Commercial Insurance Berks County

Do You Need Builder’s Risk Construction Insurance?

Posted by David Ross on Tue, Nov 04, 2014

What is Builder's Risk Insurance?


Builder's Risk Insurance - We offer construction insurance coverage in Philadelphia, Lancaster, Reading, Allentown, the Lehigh Valley, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Erie, State College, York, Lebanon, Hershey and surrounding areas. Call us for a free quote.Builder’s Risk Insurance (a.k.a. Course of Construction Coverage) is property insurance that covers damage to a building during construction.  It may cover just the structure itself, or it can include materials, fixtures, and/or equipment being used in the construction or renovation of the building.  

Why Builders and General Contractors Need It

Builder’s Risk Insurance is often required by lending and municipal authorities. It can be required as a condition of many contracts, and it can apply to both new project construction and remodeling projects.  It protects the custom builder or general contractor from financial loss due to damage.  Builder’s Risk Insurance is sometimes purchased by the ultimate owner of the property, the lending institution, or others.

What Does it Cover and How Much Insurance is Needed?

Most Builder’s Risk Insurance policies cover damage caused by fire, explosions, lightning, hail, theft, vandalism, and damages by aircraft and vehicles. The amount of coverage should represent the total value of the structure, including labor costs and the cost of raw materials; however, the cost of the land value should not be included.  The construction budget is a good way to determine the amount of coverage needed.

It is normally taken for a period of three, six, or twelve months, but can be extended if the duration of the construction exceeds the duration of the policy, but only one extension at a time is possible.  Builder’s Risk insurance is intended to cover unforeseen damage during the construction period only.  Coverage should be effective prior to when the materials are delivered to the job site.

Once the work has been completed and the property is ready for use or occupancy, the policy terminates.  Once the Builder’s Risk coverage has expired, the new owner should take out permanent property insurance, such as a home owner’s insurance policy or a commercial property insurance policy.

What Doesn’t it Cover?

Generally, Builder’s Risk Insurance does not cover damages caused by earthquakes, employee theft, water damage, contract penalty, flood, wind, war, government intervention, damage to property left in the open, or machinery breakdown.  It also doesn’t cover damages that occur as the result of inferior quality materials, inefficient design or planning, or faulty workmanship. 

Tools and equipment are not covered.  Builder’s Risk Insurance doesn’t cover for liability or accidents that occur at the site.  It’s also important to note that Builder’s Risk insurance doesn’t cover property belonging to other people, such as sub-contractors. 

Coverage Extensions for Builder's Risk Construction Insurance

Sometimes coverage extensions are needed or recommended, such as… 

  • Property in transit to worksite
  • Scaffolding while located at the insured location and pertaining to the insured company
  • Property in temporary storage that will be used or installed in the insured location and pertaining to the insured company
  • Debris removal that’s a result of damage caused by a covered incident
  • Valuable papers, such as site plans or blue prints.

Get the Right Construction Insurance

Contact us for Builder's Risk Construction InsuranceWhether you need general contracting insurance, contractor workers’ comp, builder’s risk insurance, or any other type of insurance, we have you covered.  We’ll take a close look at your business; recommend the right insurance for you, then (after shopping many competing insurance brands) offer you the best insurance protection at the best price.

To get started with the right contractor insurance for your business please contact us at (610) 775-3848 or (800) 947-1270

Tags: Builders Insurance, Construction Insurance, Construction Risk Insurance, Contractor Insurance, Construction Equipment Insurance, Commercial Insurance