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Contractor Insurance and the Main Cause of Construction Injuries

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Jan 20, 2019

How to avoid the main cause of injury in construction, and lower your contractor insurance costThis is the final blog post addressing what OSHA has labeled the “fatal four.” The fatal four are four hazards that are responsible for 63.7% of all construction worker deaths.

Recognizing and preventing these hazards will save lives, improve employee morale, and help reduce insurance costs.

The Fatal Four include the following hazards (statistics are from 2016):

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

Today, we’ll be addressing the most common cause of construction site injuries and the leading cause of construction worker deaths – falls.

 

4 Leading Causes of Falls and How to Prevent Them

 

1 - Unprotected edges, wall openings, and floor holes

Falling from a higher level can result in sprains, breaks, concussions, and death. Unprotected edges, wall openings, and floor holes can cause workers to fall from great heights. OSHA requires the use of guardrail systems, safety net systems, and/or fall arrest systems when workers are exposed to a fall hazard of six feet or more above a lower level.

Guardrails – the only solution that prevents falls from happening - must be 39 – 45 inches in height from the surface, the top rail must be able to withstand a minimum of 200 pounds and the middle rail 150 pounds.

Safety nets must be placed less than 30 feet below the work area and must extend at least eight feet out from the worksite. Border ropes must have a minimum strength of 5,000 pounds.

Fall arrest systems consist of the anchorage, connecting device, and full-body harness. Arrest systems should be inspected before each use.

Other safety precautions to avoid this type of fall include the following:

  • Before cutting a hole, barricade the work area if possible.
  • Holes should be covered or guarded immediately, and the covers should be able to support two times the weight of employees, materials, and equipment.
  • Clearly mark where there is a hole.

2 - Improper Scaffolding Construction

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), accidents involving scaffolding account for approximately 4,500 injuries and 50 deaths in the U.S. every year.  The BLS found that 72% of scaffolding injuries are caused by the planking or support giving way, the lack of guardrails and/or fall protection, and objects falling from overhead.  OSHA requires that employees on scaffolding that is higher than ten feet above a lower level must be protected.

Safety precautions to avoid falling from scaffolding include the following:

  • Construct scaffolding according to manufacturer’s specifications
  • Install guardrails
  • Brace or tie scaffolding to the building if height or width of scaffolding calls for it.
  • Use metal walk boards instead of wood if possible
  • Ensure safe access to and from the platform
  • Follow the load capacity guidelines
  • Wear hard hats and other PPE (Personal Protective Equipment)

3 - Unguarded Protruding Steel Rebars

The chance for injury from a fall from an elevated position increases significantly if protruding steel rebars are left unguarded, and even the simple trip or fall can cause serious injury when steel rebars are left unguarded. Unguarded rebars can cause cuts, abrasions, impalement, and other injuries.

Assess the site for rebar-related hazards. Cap any protruding steel rebars with steel-reinforced rebar caps or wooden troughs or bend the rebar at the very least. Make sure that all employees wear appropriate PPE and those working above rebars wear fall protection.

4 - Misuse of Portable Ladders

Falls from ladders are an all-too-common cause of injury at construction sites. Improperly placed ladders can shift or fall, and workers can slip or lose their balance when working on ladders. To avoid injuries, the proper ladder should always be used for the job, it should be safely positioned on a solid surface, and workers should take their time when working on ladders.

Most accidents with ladders are caused by the following:

  • Incorrect ladder choice
  • Improperly secured ladders
  • Trying to carry tools and equipment while climbing a ladder
  • Lack of attention
  • The condition of the ladder
  • Ladder placement
  • Not taking your time

Safety precautions when using a ladder include the following:

  • Place ladders so the side rails extend at least three feet above the landing
  • Attach the top and bottom of the ladder to something secure to keep it from slipping or falling
  • Use the correct size ladder so that it can be placed at a stable angle
  • Maintain three points of contact when going up or down a ladder
  • Stay near the middle of the ladder
  • Face the ladder when climbing up or down 

Imagine if you could eliminate (or at least significantly reduce) falls at your worksites. Nearly 40% of accidents would be eliminated, and you’d be left with happier, safer, and more productive employees and lower insurance costs.

The Quickest Way to Lower Your Contractor Insurance Cost

Contact us to save on Contractor Insurance in Philadelphia, Berks County, Lehigh Valley, Lancaster, Pittsburgh, Erie, PA and beyond!Another way to save on construction and contractors insurance is to work with the independent agents at American Insuring Group.

We work with multiple insurance companies to ensure that you get the very best price on all your Contractor Insurance needs. 

Get started by calling us today at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or contact us online.

Tags: Contractor Insurance, Contractor Safety Management, Construction Insurance, Commercial Insurance

Contractor Insurance & Electrical Safety on Construction Sites

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Dec 02, 2018

Use these safety tips to reduce the risk of electrocution on construction sites!A few weeks ago we introduced you to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Fatal Four – four safety hazards that account for the majority of all construction worker deaths (click here for our post).

Understanding how to recognize and prevent these hazards can save lives, improve employee morale, and help reduce contractor insurance costs.

The Fatal Four include the following hazards (statistics are from 2016).

  • 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%

We covered caught-in/between hazards in our prior post, and will now turn our attention to electrocution hazards. 

 

Electrocution – Death by Electrical Shock

Exposure to lethal amounts of electrical energy causes electrocution, which is death by electric shock. The human body acts as a conductor when it comes in contact with an electrical current and electricity flows through conductors to create complete a circuit.

Exposure to as little as 50-100 mill amperes of current can cause death by electrocution. Most 120 Volt circuits carry 15-20 amperes of current, which is 300 times what is needed to kill someone by electrocution.

Electrical hazards can cause electric shock, electrocution, burns, arc flash or blast, fires, and explosions, which can lead to severe injuries or death. Common causes for electric-related injuries include getting too close to overhead and underground power wires, damaged equipment, faulty wiring, improper cord use, lack of GCFIs, and wet or cramped conditions.

According to the Electronic Library of Construction Occupational Safety & Health, the major causes of electrocutions in electrical workers and other construction workers in the U.S. between 1992 and 2003 included the following:

  • Electrical wiring and equipment (accounted for the majority of deaths among electrical workers)
  • Overhead power lines (accounted for the majority of the deaths among non-electrical construction workers)
  • Machinery, appliances

Unaware of the Risks

Many construction workers are not aware of potential electrical hazards, which makes them more vulnerable, and it is your responsibility to make your employees aware. OSHAstates, "The employer shall instruct each employee in the recognition and avoidance of unsafe conditions and the regulations applicable to his work environment to control or eliminate any hazards or other exposure to illness or injury."

According to OSHA, these the most frequently cited electrical standards involving electrical hazards in construction: 

  • General requirements for electrical conductors and equipment
  • Wiring design and protection
  • Wiring methods, components, and equipment for general use
  • General requirements for protection of employees

 

Electrical Safety Measures That Can Lead to Lower Contractor Insurance Costs 

1 - Overhead Power Lines

Both overhead and underground power lines carry a high voltage. Injuries with power lines are often caused by contact with heavy equipment, ladders, lifts, etc.

The best way to avoid this hazard is to be aware of the location of power lines and maintain a safe distance. OSHA’s minimum clearance distance from overhead power lines is 2 feet for less than 300 volts, 10 feet for 300-50,000 volts, and 10 feet plus 4 inches for every 10,000 volts over 5,000 volts. This area should be cordoned off. If you have no choice but to work around power lines, contact the utility company to have the lines de-energized.

Other precautions include using nonconductive tools and equipment and avoiding the storage material directly underneath power lines. 

2 - Ground-Fault Protection 

According to OSHA, all 120-volt single-phase, 15- and 20-ampere receptacle outlets that are not part of the permanent wiring of the structure that employees use must have ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs). A GFCI is a fast-acting circuit breaker that shuts of electricity when it senses small imbalances in the circuit. GFCIs only protect against the ground fault, but that is the most common form of electric shock hazard. It also protects against fires, overheating, and destruction of insulation on wiring.

3 - Lockout/Tagout Procedures

This procedure requires that a designated individual be assigned to make sure that all machinery and equipment are turned off and disconnected before performing service or maintenance. That individual will also lock or tag the energy-isolating device(s) to prevent the release of hazardous energy and take steps to verify that the energy has been isolated effectively.

Following this procedure helps safeguard employees from the unexpected energization of hazardous energy during service or maintenance. A qualified person should also be on hand when the locks and tags are removed, and the equipment is re-energized. 

4 - Maintain Cords

There are a lot of portable tools that make life much easier at a construction site, and most of these tools come with flexible cords. These cords can be damaged by staples, rubbing against other objects, or by age. If the electrical conductors become exposed, those cords can become a hazard causing shocks, burns, or even fire. It’s important to regularly inspect all equipment and extension cords for cuts, frays, or exposed bare wires.  

5 – Other Safety Measures

Other safety measures to reduce injuries associated with electrical work include the use of insulation, guarding, electrical protective devices, and compliance with OSHA’s regulations on electrical safety. OSHAoffers many resources to help ensure the safety of your workers.

The safer your employees, the lower your insurance costs. It’s a win-win!

 

Don't Miss This Easy Way to Save on Contractor / Construction Insurance!

Save on contractor insurance in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Erie, Lancaster, Lehigh Valley, Lebanon, Harrisburg, and more.A great way to lower your contractor insurance costs is to simply contact American Insuring Group at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

Our independent agents will compare the cost of your construction insurance options among several reliable insurance companies to make sure that you’re getting the right coverage at the best price!

Call today to get started.

Tags: Construction Insurance, Contractor Insurance, Business Insurance

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

Prevent Injuries and Save on Contractor Insurance Costs

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Aug 05, 2018

Prevent Injuries Through Safety, Lower Your Contractor Insurance Costs in Pennsylvania and Elsewhere.We talk a lot about safety on this blog, but the truth is that reducing and preventing the number of injuries in the workplace, is one of the best ways to reduce your workers’ compensation and liability insurance costs. These costs tend to be higher than average in the construction industry due to its dangerous nature, so we’re going to keep talking about safety.

One of the best ways to prevent injuries is to be aware of where and how most accidents occur. Here are the five top events or exposures that lead to injury on construction worksites according to ConstructConnect, along with some tips to avoid them.

The Top 5 Injury Factors on Construction Worksites

#1 - Contact with Objects

Construction sites are filled with heavy equipment and dangerous tools, so it’s no surprise that in 2016, there were 29,160 cases of injuries caused by contact with objects. Being struck by objects or equipment caused the most injuries. Most of those were caused by handheld equipment or objects slipping or being swung by the injured employee. 5,220 accidents were caused by a falling objects or equipment hitting workers.

Injuries also occurred when workers hit an object or a piece of equipment. Some injuries occurred by hitting something stationery such as stepping on an object, but more happened when workers hit a moving object such as a moving part of the machinery.

There were also 3,260 injuries caused by a worker being caught in or compressed by equipment or objects.

Safety Tips:

  • Always wear a hardhat onsite
  • Avoid areas where work is being done overhead
  • Use lanyards or netting to avoid dropping tools or materials to a lower level 

#2 – Slips, Trips and Falls

In 2016, there were 24,700 reported cases of construction workers being injured by slips, trips, or falls. The majority of those injuries were caused by falling to a lower level.

Safety Tips:

  • Provide fall protection for anyone working up high
  • Keep areas where people walk clear
  • Inspect personal arrest systems to make sure that everything is in good working order

#3 – Overexertion

Construction is hard work, so it’s no surprise that in 2016, 21,150 overexertion injuries were reported. These injuries were caused by lifting or lowering objects; pulling, pushing, or turning; holding, carrying, or wielding, and other things like bending, twisting climbing, reaching, etc.

Safety Tips:

  • When lifting an object, bend at your knees and use your legs
  • Wear a back brace when lifting a heavy object
  • Take regular breaks when feeling fatigued or doing something that requires repetitive motion

#4 – Transportation Incidents

U.S. roads can be dangerous. In 2016, 3,470 injuries reported in the construction industry were the result of transportation incidents. This includes vehicle collisions and pedestrians being struck and injured by vehicles in both work zones and off the road – like on construction sites.

Safety Tips:

  • Obey traffic rules when driving
  • Be aware of what’s going on around you
  • Avoid blind spots with mirrors and visual aid devices such as backup alarms and lights
  • Control traffic using barricades and signs to alert drivers of work zones, shifting traffic patterns, etc.
  • Wear proper safety equipment including hard hats, highly visible clothing, steel-toed boots, etc.

#5 - Exposure to Harmful Environments or Substances

In 2016, there were 1,470 injuries caused by exposure to extreme temperatures and 420 injuries caused by exposure to electricity. Electrical injuries can include electrocution, electrical shock, burns, and falls, and low voltage does NOT mean low hazard.

Safety Tips:

  • In hot weather, keep hydrated, try to schedule work during the cooler time of day, bring shade, and keep an eye on each other
  • In frigid weather, provide a heated break area; ensure that workers dress appropriately with layers of loose-fitting, insulated clothing; gradually introduce workers to the cold; know the symptoms of hypothermia, frostbite, and trench foot; and monitor each other
  • Check electrical cords and wires before using
  • Wear personal protection when handling electrical materials

Understanding Leads to Prevention

Understanding your biggest risks for injury and how to prevent them before they happen are your first steps to minimizing injuries in a notoriously dangerous industry. Providing a safe work environment is good for you and your employees. Plus, it provides cost savings on insurance and other costs of workplace injuries such as missed days of work, training new employees, lower employee morale, etc.

 

We'll Help You Save on Every Kind of Commercial Insurance!

To learn more ways to save on contractor insurance, workers comp insurance and all types of commercial insurance, simply call American Insuring Group at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or click to contact us online.

Our independent agents aggressively shop the market to find you the very best deal on quality insurance. Contact us today to start saving in Pennsylvania and beyond!

Tags: Contractor Insurance, Contractor Safety Management, Workers Compensation Insurance, workers comp costs, Commercial Liability Insurance

Contractor Insurance and Managing Subcontractor Risk

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Jul 15, 2018

Contractor Risk Management is key to managing subcontractor risks. A key factor is to obtain the right Contractor Insurance.Risk management is part of any successful business, and it is especially true in an industry fraught with as many dangers as construction. Accidents that cause injury, damage, or death occur on worksites across the country every day.

Preventing those injuries is your first line of defense. That might include actions like creating and enforcing a safety management program, providing proper safety training, offering protective gear when appropriate, etc.

 

Contractor Insurance is Key to Managing Risk

Unfortunately, accidents can still occur. That’s where contractor's insurance comes in. The right coverage will protect your employees, your customers, and your business.

You probably know all this, but what happens when a subcontractor that you’ve hired is injured or causes an injury or damage? Hiring subcontractors is a prevalent practice in the construction industry because the more people you have working on a job, the more you can get done, right?

We think it’s pretty safe to say that’s true, but subcontractors also add another level of risk, which makes it essential to understand the role contractor insurance plays with subcontractors. Here’s some info that may help.

 

Subcontractor Risk Considerations 

#1 - Employee vs. Subcontractor

With an employee, you are required to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes, pay unemployment tax on wages, provide workers’ compensation in many cases, etc. The headaches and expenses of an employee can quickly add up.

But with subcontractors, you don’t have to pay the same taxes or provide WC insurance. Therefore, some contractors misclassify employees as subcontractors. Sometimes it’s even done by mistake because there are so many variables that determine whether or not someone is an employee.

Even the IRS admits there is no simple formula to determine if a worker is an employee or an independent contractor, and factors which are relevant in one situation may not be applicable in another. “The keys are to look at the entire relationship, consider the degree or extent of the right to direct and control, and finally, to document each of the factors used in coming up with the determination,” according to the IRS

 

Misclassifying an employee as a subcontractor can end up costing you more in fines and penalties than you would have paid if they were classified correctly. This makes it imperative that you make the right classifications. Here are some tips to do that.

Determine the Business Relationship 

First, you need to determine the business relationship that exists between you and the person performing the services including your degree of control over them and their independence. The IRS provides these three categories to provide evidence of that control or independence. 

  • Behavioral: Does the company control or have the right to control what the worker does and how the worker does his or her job?
  • Financial: Are the business aspects of the worker’s job controlled by the payer? (these include things like how the worker is paid, whether expenses are reimbursed, who provides tools/supplies, etc.)
  • Type of Relationship: Are there written contracts or employee type benefits (e., pension plan, insurance, vacation pay, etc.)? Will the relationship continue and is the work performed a key aspect of the business?

#2 - Get Subcontractor Insurance

If you have determined that you are dealing with a subcontractor and not an employee, you do not need to worry about workers’ compensation insurance; however, you still face risks. Don’t assume that your contractor’s liability insurance will cover you in the event that a subcontractor’s work causes damage or injury. Damages caused by individuals other than your employees are excluded in many general liability policies.

Your first step is to make sure that all of your subcontractors have their own general liability coverage that is adequate to cover any injuries or damage. Have them to provide a certificate of insurance as proof. The International Risk Management Institute (IRMI) suggests the following minimum general liability insurance limits for subcontractors:

  • $1,000,000 each occurrence (the combined single limit for bodily injury and property damage);
  • $1,000,000 for personal and advertising injury liability;
  • $1,000,000 aggregate on products and completed operations;
  • $2,000,000 general aggregate.

#3 - Get Listed as an Additional Insured 

You should also make sure that your subcontractors include you as an additional insured on their commercial insurance policy to protect you against their negligence.

 

Be Prepared - Contact Us Today! 

Get affordable contractor insurance throughout PA, including Philadelphia, Reading, Lancaster, Allentown, Pittsburgh, Erie, Harrisburg and beyond.Accidents happen, but the right insurance will help protect your business. For more information about contractor insurance and any time of business insurance you may need, contact American Insuring Group at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or contact us online.

You can rest assured that we'll find you affordable contractor insurance at a great price because our independent agents are free to scour the market and to compare policies among lots of competing providers.

Tags: Contractor Insurance, Builders Insurance

Heavy Equipment Safety and Contractor Insurance

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Jun 17, 2018

Tips for safely dealing with heavy equipment in the construction industry, resulting in lower contractor and commercial insurance rates in PA, including Philadelphia, Reading, Pittsburgh, Lehigh Valley, Erie and beyond. Whenever the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) releases its list of the deadliest jobs in America, some type of construction work is on that list.

According to the BLS, there were 991 fatal work injuries in construction in 2016. They listed first-line supervisors of construction trades and extraction workers as the ninth deadliest job with 134 fatal injuries and a fatal injury rate of 18 per 100,000 workers.

Roofers were number four (behind only aircraft pilots, fishers, and logging workers) with 101 fatal injuries and a fatal injury rate of 48.6 fatal injuries per 100,000 workers.

It's Wise to be Properly Insured 

No one would argue that construction is a dangerous job, and one of the elements that make it dangerous is the use of heavy equipment. According to the Center for Construction and Research Training (CPWR), vehicles and heavy mobile equipment caused 7,681 deaths from 1992 to 2010 with about 404 deaths annually.

Plus, even when vehicles and equipment are involved in an accident, they are often not listed as the cause of death. Given these facts, it's clear that having the proper contractor insurance is key for those in the construction industry. 

Types of Dangerous Heavy Equipment

Cranes have been the most dangerous heavy equipment machinery used in the construction industry for the past two decades. CPWR found that from 1992 through 2006, 632 of all the construction fatalities reported were caused by cranes. In 2008, crane collapses caused 25 deaths and 59 injuries, contact with overhead power lines resulted in ten fatalities and eight injuries. Contact with crane load caused six deaths and ten injuries.

But cranes aren’t the only dangerous type of heavy equipment. Here is a list of the top five most dangerous construction equipment:

  1. Cranes
  2. Bulldozers
  3. Dump trucks
  4. Backhoes
  5. Excavators

Heavy Equipment Safety

Yes, experience does go a long way to ensure the safety of heavy equipment operators and those working around them. The danger comes when someone who has been working on the job for a long time is lured into a false sense of security and lets their guard down.

Distractions Can Cause Accidents

Today, one of the most common dangers may be simple distractions – both external and internal - that can affect veteran and novice heavy equipment operators alike, and many of these distractions can be avoided.

Before cell phones became so ubiquitous, many heavy equipment operators listened to radios. This was distracting enough (and could keep the operator from hearing if something is wrong with the machinery or someone is shouting at them), but cell phones have taken that distraction to a whole new level. 

Today’s cell phones allow operators to listen to music, text, watch videos, play games, check social media, search for information online and make phone calls. Some operators use earbuds to block out external noises. All of this can lead to distraction and danger.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has addressed the use of cell phones in cranes. OSHA states; “The [crane or derrick] operator must not engage in any practice or activity that diverts his/her attention while actually engaged in operating the equipment, such as the use of cellular phones (other than when used for signal communications).”

While OSHA doesn’t address this with other types of heavy equipment, it’s a smart safety measure to employ across the board to both operators and those working around heavy equipment.

Do You Have a Safety Policy? 

The best way to avoid distractions of any kind and keep your workers safe is to have a safety policy in place that forbids the use of cell phones while operating or working around heavy equipment, educate workers on that policy, and address any issues as soon as they arise.

Protect Your Business with the Right Type of Insurance

Get the right insurance for the construction industryUnfortunately, accidents still happen, but the right insurance can help protect you and your employees if an injury does occur. Workers Compensation Insurance, which is often a state mandate, can provide wage replacement and medical benefits to employees injured on the job.

Commercial Liability Insurance can help protect your business from lawsuits. Various types of insurance can be combined to create a custom Contractor Insurance policy as well. 

To learn more about these and other types of commercial insurance, call American Insuring Group at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or contact us online.

 

Tags: Contractor Insurance, Heavy Equipment Insurance, Commercial Insurance, Construction Equipment Insurance

5 Tips to Lower your Contractor Insurance Cost

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Apr 29, 2018

Save on Contractor Insurance by following these tipsHaving the protection offered by contractor’s Insurance just makes good business sense. Without it, one nasty lawsuit could put you out of business and your employees out of work. And don’t forget: some state and federal laws require certain types of insurance.

But finding the right contractor’s insurance is a balancing act. You don’t want to pay for more coverage than you need to reasonably protect yourself, your employees, and your business. But then again, you don’t want to find yourself underinsured if something does happen. Remember Goldilocks? You want it "just right".

Using an insurance broker who is familiar with contractors’ needs and risks is the best way to ensure that you have the right amount of coverage at the best possible price.

 

Here are five tips to help minimize your contractor insurance premiums without giving up the protection you need

 

#1) Review Your Policies Regularly

Things change. You may have purchased a new piece of equipment, hired your first employee, or sold a vehicle. You want to make sure that all of your current assets are adequately protected. When you do a review, you should consider the different types of insurance available to contractors and determine if any of them need to be added or deleted from your current policy.

Here are the five insurances you should be familiar with as a contractor:

  • Commercial General Liability (CGL) – Construction is one of the most dangerous industries, making CGL Insurance an essential part of your insurance portfolio. It 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.

  • Commercial Auto – If you have started using your personal vehicle to drive back and forth to project sites or to transport tools or equipment or if you’ve begun allowing employees to drive your car or truck, personal auto insurance does not provide enough coverage. You may need to add Commercial Auto Insurance.

  • Workers’ Compensation (WC) – If you have employees, you may be required by law to have Workers’ Compensation Insurance. WC is meant to ensure that your employees who are disabled due to a work-related injury are compensated for lost wages and receive the necessary medical treatment. To learn more about WC requirements in Pennsylvania, go to the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry.

  • Inland Marine Insurance (Aka Tools and Equipment Insurance) – What’s more important than your tools of the trade? Inland Marine Insurance is designed to protect your property when it is in transit.

  • Builder’s Risk Insurance - Builders risk insurance is designed to protect your equipment in the event of losses caused by theft and other perils that can occur.

#2) Check your deductibles

Increasing your insurance deductible (the amount you need to pay when you file a claim) is one way to decrease your premiums (what you pay for your insurance coverage). If you have enough money in savings to comfortably cover a higher deductible, this may be a good choice for you. 

But be careful. The purpose of insurance is to protect you financially if something happens – an accident, theft, lawsuit, etc. If you don’t have the financial resources to cover the costs of your deductible, then your insurance policy isn’t providing the financial protection you need and could expose you to risks that affect your business – in the worst case, shutting it down.

#3) Bundle your insurance policies

Bundling is kind of like economies of scale. Sometimes if you purchase more than one insurance policy with the same provider, it can be less expensive per policy. Ask your insurance agent if bundling your policies would save you money.

#4) Know when to make a claim (and when not to)

The fact is that the number of claims you submit can affect your insurance premiums, so sometimes it makes sense to pay for certain losses out of pocket. If making a small claim will increase your insurance premiums, it may be less expensive in the long run to pay the minor loss out of pocket.

#5) Risk Management

If you can determine potential hazards and how to avoid them and implement a risk management plan, you will probably have fewer losses and injuries, which means you’ll have fewer claims. Fewer claims usually mean lower premiums. Plus, there are many intangible benefits in keeping your employees and your equipment safe – higher employee morale, higher productivity, less downtime, etc.

 

Don't Overpay for Contractor Insurance!

Contact us to save on Contractor Insurance. Serving Philadelphia, Berks County, Lehigh Valley, PA and beyond.As an insurance broker, American Insuring Group specializes in contractors insurance. We can ensure that you have insurance required by law, help you determine risks specific to your industry, and create the best insurance bundle to protect your business, all at a great price. Even Goldilocks would find our insurance to be "just right"!

To learn how we can help save you money on any type of commercial insurance coverage, call us at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848, or contact us online

Tags: Contractor Insurance, Commercial Insurance

The Construction Boom and Builders Risk Insurance Rates

Posted by David Ross on Tue, Apr 03, 2018

Tips to lower your builder's risk insurance costs in PAThe construction industry is booming – both new construction and remodeling - and it looks as if that trend will continue. Construction has a 4.5% projected growth rate over the next five years.

In fact, construction is expected to be one of the fastest growing industries into 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Real output in the construction industry is expected to reach $1.2 trillion by 2020.


This is excellent news if you’re in the business of building or remodeling houses. It translates into big opportunities for builders. Unfortunately, it can also bring higher risk, making now the perfect time to let the experienced independent agents at American Insuring Group review your Builders Risk Insurance to make sure you have the right coverage to adequately protect your business.

 

What is Builders Risk Insurance?

Builders Risk Insurance is a type of property insurance unique to the construction industry. It covers structures or building materials during construction. It provides coverage for damage from events such as fire, wind, theft, hail, explosion, lightning, and vandalism. Builders Risk Insurance is typically written for three, six, or twelve month periods, and can be extended (although usually only once) if the project takes longer than anticipated.

This insurance pays for damages up to the coverage limit, which should be based on the total completed value of the structure including not only materials but also labor costs. The best way to determine that value is to look at the construction budget.

Standard Exclusions

Standard exclusions on builders risk insurance include earthquake, employee theft, water damage, weather damage to property in the open, war, government action, contract penalties, voluntary parting, and mechanical breakdown. Another typical exclusion results from faulty design, planning, workmanship, and materials, which can be covered by Professional Liability Insurance.

Here are a few more things that you should know about Builders Risk Insurance:

  • It doesn’t cover the property of others
  • Subcontractors must have their own insurance
  • Tools and equipment are not included
  • Accidents on the job site are not covered
  • Once the building is completed or occupied, the coverage usually ends
  • It doesn’t cover professional liability

Does the Booming Industry Mean Higher Builders Risk Insurance Premiums?

Historically, Builders Risk Insurance has been safe from dramatic increases. Increases tend to be small and incremental. And experts don’t foresee that changing even with the increase in construction projects. However, 2017 was the costliest year ever for weather and climate disasters in the U.S. totaling $306 billion. The U.S. was hit by 16 weather events that caused more than a billion dollars in damage. Previously, 2005 held the record at $215 billion.

Most experts agree that the cost of this damage will only slightly increase builders risk insurance premiums particularly with frame construction and construction in areas that are prone to catastrophes.

How to make Builders Risk Insurance Work for you in this lucrative market

  • Cover Your Entire Project - Many builders purchase builders risk insurance because their lending institution requires it, so they only cover the bare minimum: labor and materials. These are the parts of the project the banks have an interest in, but you need to protect your interests as well, which include overhead and profit.

  • Spell it out with a detailed contract – Make it very clear in the contract who (contractor, owner, designer) is responsible for what if something goes wrong. The American Institute of Architects offers comprehensive contract templates.

  • Don’t be Naïve – Whether your company is big or small, you do face risk, and if you don’t have a lot of cash flow even a small amount of damage can be catastrophic.

  • Hire good subcontractors – Verify that all of your subcontractors have certificates of insurance with adequate limits. You may also want to secure a waiver of subrogation and list subcontractors as additional insured for both operations and completed operations for the project. This way, if there is a lawsuit, the subcontractor’s insurance will defend the contractor.


Contact Us to Review Your Business Insurance Policies 

Now – while business is booming – is the perfect time to review your business insurance policies!

The agents at American Insuring Group specialize in Contractors Insurance and finding ways to lower your risk while reducing your costs.

Give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or contact us online. We’ll be happy to review your policy to ensure that you have adequate coverage to protect your business.

Tags: Builders Risk Insurance, Contractor Insurance, Commercial Liability Insurance, Business Insurance

Critical Gap in Contractor Insurance Filled by CPPI

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Feb 11, 2018

CPPI Insurance Protection Tips for Contractors in PA, from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh and points in between.Contractors, how confident are you in your contractor insurance coverage? Did you know that there might be a potentially costly gap in your Commercial General Liability Insurance policy (CGL) that you may not be aware of?

CGL is a standard insurance policy that protects you against liability claims for bodily injury and property damage related to your business activities.

It helps cover legal costs such as court costs, attorney fees, and police report costs in the event of a lawsuit filed by an employee, contractor, client, vendor, etc. and judgments or settlements that result in the lawsuit.

Many banks and clients require this coverage, which makes CGL one of a contractor’s best friends.

Errors in Judgment are Usually NOT Covered by CGL Insurance

But with progressively more complicated projects and blurred lines between professional services and construction duties and responsibilities, financial loss due to errors in judgment are increasing and are usually not covered by CGL. There is also an exclusion in most CGL policies - the “absolute pollution exclusion” - that can leave a gap in your coverage and expose your business to risk.

 

Pollution & Professional Insurance (CPPI) – 4 Key Coverages

Contractors pollution and professional insurance (Aka contractors protective professional indemnity coverage or CPPI) addresses most of the pollution and professional liability coverage gaps in a CGL with four key coverages.

#1) Professional liability coverage

On a traditional project, an architect or engineer provides the design services, and a contractor implements the design. However, as projects continue to increase in complexity, the line of responsibility between the design firm and contractor are becoming blurred, and contractors are taking on nontraditional risks that a CGL policy may not cover.

Professional liability coverage extends beyond the traditional understanding of “professional services” to include engineering work, design work, construction management operations, and construction process services such as shoring and dewatering. 

#2) Protective liability coverage

This extends coverage when you are held responsible for the actions or omissions of another person. Protective liability coverage provides excess coverage over the contracted design professional’s policy if its policy limits are insufficient, protects you if the design professional’s coverage is no longer available, and acts as a difference-in-condition coverage if the CPPI is broader than the underlying professional policy.

#3) Mitigation expense

It’s usually less expensive to fix a problem discovered during construction right away rather than wait until after the project is completed. This coverage – also called “mistake coverage” - allows you to fix a problem before it becomes a claim. 

#4) Pollution liability

With the increased focus on the environment and a growing list of pollution sources, contractors are more exposed to pollution and environmental losses than ever. Even if you aren’t engaged in pollution remediation, you probably work with and dispose of fuels, solvents, and other chemical wastes.

Most CGL policies offer limited coverage for bodily injury and property damage caused by pollutants, but the absolute pollution exclusion (and similar exclusions) included in most CGLs and auto policies leave contractors open to liability for damages such as the incidental transportation of waste or the development of contaminated sites. CPPI covers claims such as damage to soil, water, air, animal life, and plant life caused by a pollutant release; the cost to clean up, treat and restore damaged resources as a result of a pollutant release; and pollution losses related to the transportation of a pollutant.

If You’re a Contractor You Likely Need CPPI Protection!

A broader understanding of what “professional services” are and the various exclusions in most CGL policies mean that almost every contractor should have CPPI coverage, so if you're a contractor, don't take chances!

Contact Us for the Right Contractor Insurance Protection

Contact us for CPPI insurance in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Erie, Allentown, Lancaster, Reading, Harriburg, PA and surrounding states.Call our experienced independent agents at American Insuring Group at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or click here to connect with them online to learn if there are any potentially costly gaps in your CGL policy.

You can rest assured that they’ll find you the right coverage at a great price!

Tags: Contractor Insurance, Commercial General Liability Insurance, CPPI Insurance, Commercial Insurance