Insurance Savings and News You Can Use
Join the Conversation!

7 Smart Ways to Save on Contractor Insurance

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Mar 22, 2020

Ways to Save on Contractors InsuranceContractor Insurance is required to protect your assets and your business, whether you’re a one-person independent contractor or the owner of a construction company.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t lower the cost of your insurance premiums.

Here are seven smart ways to you can start saving on contractor Insurance:

Increase Deductibles

A deductible is the amount of money that you will need to pay if you make a claim before the insurance company pays anything. In other words, if you have a $500 deductible and make a $2,000 claim that is covered, the insurance company would pay $1,500 only after you have paid the $500.

Increasing the amount of your deductible will lower the cost of your premiums, freeing up funds that could be used to buy new equipment, give raises, or however you think that money could be best used.

However, before you make that decision, make sure that you have enough money in reserve that you could pay that deductible if you made a claim. Otherwise, you could find yourself without a tool or vehicle that you need to conduct business if it is stolen, damaged, or destroyed. If you can’t pay that deductible, you can’t repair or replace that item.

Pay Upfront

Most insurance companies will discount your rate if you can pay your insurance premium upfront, rather than monthly. So, if you have the cash available, pay your insurance premiums annually.

Combine Insurance Policies

Every contractor should have Commercial General Liability (CGL) Insurance, which covers your business for injury or property damage caused by the operation of your business or on your business premises. Chances are good, that isn’t the only insurance you will need to protect your business.

You may need property insurance to protect your buildings and its contents, auto insurance to protect your vehicles, or any number of other types of insurance. Many insurance companies will give you a discount if you purchase more than one type of insurance with them.

Lower Commercial Auto Insurance

If you hire drivers with bad driving records, you will pay more for your commercial auto insurance; it’s that simple. Before hiring anyone who will drive one of your commercial vehicles, check their driving records and only hire those with excellent driving records.

Another way to save on auto insurance is to evaluate new vehicle purchases. The more a vehicle is worth, the more your insurance premiums will be. So, when you are comparing the price of vehicles, don’t forget to factor in the cost of insurance to cover it. You may find a less-expensive model will meet your needs and save you a ton of money in the long run.

Identify and Minimize Your Risks

The fewer claims you make, the lower your premiums will be. Identify any potential hazards and create a plan to prevent those risks, and you should be able to reduce the number of claims.

For example, there is always the risk of your tools or equipment being stolen, so if you can minimize the risk of theft – such as installing security cameras, locks, or tracking devices – you will lower the chances of those items being stolen, which means fewer claims. Fewer claims can reduce the cost of your premiums and minimize any deductibles you have to pay.

Create a Safer Worksite

We would be remiss if we didn’t include this one. A safer worksite means fewer employee injuries, which means lower Workers’ Compensation costs. A safer worksite also means fewer third-party injuries, which could result in expensive lawsuits; thereby, increasing your CGL costs.

OSHA offers a variety of resources to improve worksite safety, and you’ll also find many tips to create a safer worksite on this blog.

Work with an Independent Insurance Agent

Independent Insurance agents – like the experienced agents at American Insuring Group – can compare several different insurance companies to ensure that you get the right coverage and the best price on all your business insurance needs, including contractor insurance. By comparison, a captive (single-company) agent can only sell policies from a single insurance carrier.

Ready to start saving? Give one of our independent agents a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

Tags: Contractor Insurance, workers comp, Commercial Insurance, Contractor Safety Management, Commercial Auto Insurance

7 Tips to Improve Roofer Safety and Lower Contractor Insurance

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Mar 08, 2020

Save on Roofer Contractor Insurance by Improving Roofer SafetyWant to know how to lower your Contractor Insurance costs? It’s simple: reduce the number of claims. You already know the construction industry is filled with its share of potential hazards, and this is particularly true for roofers.

Roofing work was rated the fourth most dangerous job - behind logging workers, fishing workers, and pilots – in 2019. The roofing profession has a 48.6 fatality rate – the number of deaths per 100,000 full-time workers calculated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with more than 100 fatalities per year (most a result of a fall).

Here are seven tips to ensure the safety of your roofers and reduce insurance costs:

Plan, Provide, and Train

OSHA recommends that employers plan, provide, and train to help ensure the safety of employees. Plan ahead to get the job done safely. Provide appropriate equipment so that employees can work safely. Train workers to recognize hazards and the proper use of equipment, ladders, scaffolds, and fall protection systems.  

Consider Weather Conditions

Moisture, ice, and wet leaves can make a roof extremely slippery, and a strong gust of wind can cause a worker to lose his or her balance. Avoid working on roofs in bad weather, especially on surfaces such as slate, tile, metal, and some single-ply membranes, which can be particularly slippery when wet.

Use Ladders Properly

Ladders are an essential tool for any roofer. Ladders should be inspected for visible defects regularly and after any occurrence that could have caused damage. Ladders should only be used on stable and level surfaces. If that isn’t possible, secure the ladder to keep it from moving. Areas at the top and bottom of the ladder should be kept clear.

Roofers should be trained to maintain three points of contact (two hands and a foot or two feet and a hand) at all times when going up or down a ladder. Workers should also not carry anything that could cause them to lose their balance.

Check to make sure that ladders are fully open before using them. If using non-self-supporting ladders, such as extension ladders, OSHA recommends setting the ladder “at an angle so the horizontal distance between the top support and the foot of the ladder is approximately one-quarter the working length of the ladder (a 1:4 ratio).”

Provide Fall Protection

It comes as no surprise that falls are the leading cause of work-related injuries and fatalities among roofers. Employees should attend regular training on fall safety.

OSHA requires that employees who are exposed to a fall of six feet or more to a lower level be provided with fall protection. Fall protection can come in many forms, including personal fall arrest systems (PFAS), fall restraint systems, guide-rail systems, warning line systems, safety net systems, safety monitoring systems, and covers.

Provide Safe Scaffolding

Ensure that any scaffolds used are designed and constructed by a qualified person. Employees are most likely to fall when climbing on or off a scaffold, so it’s important to provide safe access. It’s also important that scaffolds are fully planked or decked between the front uprights and guardrail supports.

Consider Electrical Safety

The biggest electrocution risk for roofers is contact with overhead powerlines, but contact with electrical conduit buried in old roofing can also cause electrocution. Workers should be protected from electrocution by de-energizing the circuits, grounding, or guarding it with insulation.

Train Employees on Hazardous Materials

Employees must be trained on how to read and understand safety data sheets, container labeling, and other forms of warning and how to protect themselves from hazards, such as asbestos, lead, silica, and hazardous chemicals.

 

Compare Insurance - Here's How We Can Help You Save!

A Trusted Choice Independent Insurance Agent in Berks County, and serving Philadelphia, Harrisburg, Allentown, Pittsburgh, PA and beyond.Another way to save on Contractor Insurance is to work with an independent agent – like those at American Insuring Group – who will compare the cost and quality of insurance coverage among several different competing insurance companies.

If you want to be confident that you’re getting the best price and coverage on Contractor Insurance, give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online!

Tags: Construction Insurance, Construction Risk Insurance, Contractor Insurance, workers comp insurance, Contractor Safety Management

Will a BOP Lower Your Contractor or Restaurant Insurance Costs?

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Mar 01, 2020

Business Owners Policies to Supplement Your Contractor Insurance or Restaurant InsuranceAs a contractor or restaurant owner, you’re probably looking for ways to cut costs and improve your bottom line. A Business Owners Policy – or BOP – is a flexible and affordable way to save on Commercial Insurance, but it isn’t right for every business.

An experienced insurance agent – like the independent agents at American Insuring Group – can help you determine if it’s right for your business.

Here’s what you need to know.

What Is a Business Owners Policy (BOP)?

A BOP combines Commercial General Liability (CGL) Insurance and Property Insurance – two types of insurance most business owners need to protect their business - at a discount.

Commercial General Liability Insurance, which may be required by a client or landlord, typically covers lawsuits that result in bodily injury or property damage that is caused by slip-and-fall accidents, third-party property damage, product liability, advertising injuries, and copyright infringement.

The expense of a lawsuit can have a devastating impact on a small business. According to a U.S. Chamber of Commerce report, legal issues are costing small US businesses more than $100 billion every year. Because small businesses are more likely to settle rather than get tied up in litigation, they are often the target of frivolous lawsuits, which is costing about $35.6 billion in settlements each year.

CGL does not cover employee injuries, which are typically covered by Workers’ Compensation Insurance.

Property Insurance covers damage to your building and its contents due to a covered cause of loss, such as a fire, explosion, storm, theft, or vandalism. Most Property Insurance policies do not cover earthquakes and floods; however, some policies cover a loss of income or an increase in expenses that result from property damage that is covered.  

For example, if a fire in your oven causes you to shut-down for a few days until repairs can be made, Property Insurance may include Business Interruption Insurance to cover the income you would lose by shutting down.

Another example is a fire in a contractor’s office that destroys files or materials required to conduct business.

Do I Qualify For a Business Owners Policy

Although they can save businesses money, BOPs are not right for every business, and not every business will qualify for a BOP. Typically, low-risk small businesses that meet the following criteria will qualify for a BOP:

  • A small workspace
  • Less than $1 million in revenue per year
  • Fewer than 100 employees
  • A low-risk industry
  • A less than 12 months of Business Interruption Insurance requirement

As a contractor, you may think that your business is not a low-risk industry. Heavy construction, along with mid-sized and large construction businesses, may not qualify for a BOP, which is more appropriate for small contractors or subcontractors. However, it’s always a good idea to ask your insurance agent if this would be a good addition to your overall contractors insurance.

Is a BOP Right For My Business?

BOPs typically have a cap on policy limits – the maximum amount the policy will pay in the event of a claim. Make sure your CGL limit is enough to cover the cost of a potential lawsuit and make sure your Property Insurance limit would cover the value of your property.

If a BOP provides enough protection for your business, it could save you money.

What Doesn’t a BOP Cover?

The basic coverage of a BOP may not cover certain circumstances. For example, contractors may discover that equipment that is transported or stored on a job site may not be covered under CGL; that is what Inland Marine Insurance is designed for.

A restaurant owner who serves alcohol may find that a BOP may not cover a lawsuit that arises from an intoxicated person served at your restaurant; that’s what Liquor Liability Insurance for your restaurant covers.  

 

How Else Can I Save on Contractor or Restaurant Insurance?

To save even more on your business insurance costs, work with an independent insurance agent like those at American Insuring Group who 1) specialize in contractor and restaurant insurance, and 2) can compare the price and quality of your coverage among several competing insurance companies.

American Insuring Group has you covered. Give one of our experienced independent agents a call today at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

We serve the greater Philadelphia, Reading, Pittsburgh, Lehigh Valley, Harrisburg, Lancaster, Erie, PA region and beyond.

Tags: Restaurant Insurance, Contractor Insurance, Small Business Insurance, Commercial Insurance

What You Need About Saving on Contractor Insurance

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Feb 09, 2020

Contractors_InsuranceFor many contractors, talking about Contractor Insurance is probably the equivalent of a root canal, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Finding an insurance agent who specializes in contractor’s insurance – like the American Insuring Group – takes a lot of the guesswork out of purchasing insurance.

However, it’s always wise to have a basic understanding, so you know what questions to ask and understand what your agent is recommending. Here is what you need to know about Contractor Insurance:

Who Needs Contractor Insurance?

Obviously, contractors need contractor insurance. That includes general, concrete, excavation, masonry, sheet metal, and paving contractors. But Contractor Insurance goes beyond protecting contractors. 

Here is a list of occupations/businesses that can benefit from Contractor Insurance:

  • Appliance Repair Technicians
  • Carpenters
  • Debris removal
  • Electricians
  • Handymen
  • Interior construction
  • Locksmiths
  • Painters
  • Plumbers
  • Property preservation
  • Roofers
  • Snow and ice removal
  • Stucco and plastering

What Type of Insurance do Contractors Need?

Many factors go into the type of insurance policies you need, including whether or not you have employees and what outside parties you may be involved with (i.e., lenders, municipalities, etc.) require.

Here are the most common types of Contractors Insurance that help protect your business from injuries (employees, vendors, etc.), damage, lawsuits, and more.

Commercial General Liability (CGL)

Every contractor should have CGL because the construction industry comes with many risks.  CGL covers basic construction risks, such as lawsuits against your company, along with third-party injuries (visitors to your worksite) and property damage.

For example, if a visitor trips over a wire or slips and falls on a wet surface at your place of business or a worksite, you could be blamed for the injury. CGL typically covers attorney fees, judgments against your business, settlements, medical bills, and funeral expenses.

Another example where CGL can come in handy is f your ladder falls on a customer’s TV and damages it. CGL can help pay for the cost to repair or replace the TV. It can also help cover costs if that customer files a lawsuit against you.

Commercial Automobile Insurance

If you or an employee is driving a company-owned vehicle and is in an accident or causes damage, commercial auto insurance can help cover the cost of property damage, medical bills, lawsuits, and other expenses that can result from an accident.

If you drive a construction vehicle, transport tools or equipment, or have employees run errands for you, you should have Commercial Auto Insurance

Builder’s Risk Insurance

Builder’s Risk Insurance (Aka Course of Construction Insurance) can pay for damage resulting from fire, vandalism, or theft of tools, materials, and property while a structure is under construction.

Commercial Property Insurance

Commercial Property Insurance helps pay for repairs or replacement of your building, along with furniture, supplies, etc. if it is lost, stolen, or damaged.

Inland Marine Insurance

Commercial Property Insurance does not protect your property if it is not at the location listed on the policy. This is where Inland Marine Insurance comes in. It covers products, tools, and equipment while in transit or stored off-site (like a job site).

Workers’ Compensation (WC)

In Pennsylvania, most employers are required to carry Workers’ Compensation Insurance for their employees. If an employee is injured while working, WC can help pay for medical costs and lost wages.

Providing WC insurance to your employees also helps protect you against an injured employee suing your company. In most cases, injured employees are prohibited from suing their employers if WC is provided.

Professional Liability Insurance

Professional Liability Insurance (A.k.a., Errors and Omissions Insurance) covers legal expenses if you are sued for things like unsatisfactory, late, or incomplete work.

 

👉 Contact Us to Save on Contractors Insurance!

The cost of contractor’s insurance can vary significantly depending on your coverage and your deductible. Other factors that determine the cost of your premiums include what services you provide, your revenue, your location, and the number of employees.

  • You may lower costs by bundling liability coverages into a package called a Business Owner’s Policy (BOP).
  • You may lower costs by creating a safer work environment that results in fewer injuries and fewer claims.
  • You may lower costs by working with an independent agent – like those at American Insuring Group – who can compare the cost of your coverage with several companies to ensure you’re paying the lowest premiums for the coverage.

Have more questions about saving on Contractors Insurance costs? The independent agents at American Insuring Group specialize in Contractors Insurance and can help you get the best price on the coverage you need, whether you're in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Erie, Berks County, or anywhere in PA or surrounding states.

Give us a call today at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online!

Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, Construction Insurance, Contractor Insurance, Commercial Liability Insurance, Commercial Insurance

Top 3 Construction Business Risks and How to Minimize Them

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Jan 19, 2020

Construction Worker on RoofEvery business comes with its share of risk, and a contracting business is no different. If anything, contractors face more than the average risk. Fortunately, there are things you can do to minimize or even eliminate many of those risks. Plus, Contractors Insurance acts as a safety net when, despite your best efforts, something does go wrong.

Your first step is to identify potential risks, so here are three of the top risks that contractors need to be aware of and tips to minimize those risks:

  1. Injuries

Construction worksites are full of potential hazards, making construction one of the most dangerous occupations. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), approximately 20% of private-industry worker fatalities are in construction.

However, it isn’t just workers who pose a risk. Non-employees, such as vendors and clients, are often unfamiliar with safety rules, and can also be injured on construction worksites.

Minimize Risk of Injury

OSHA has identified the four biggest construction hazards – called the Fatal Four - as falls, electrocution, caught-in, and struck-by. These four hazards were the leading causes of death in 90% of all construction fatalities.

To minimize the risk of injury, develop and enforce a safety program, and all employees should receive proper safety training.

  1. Equipment Damage or Loss

Tools and equipment are one of a contractor’s most vital assets. From something as small as a hammer to as big as a backhoe, you need them to get the job done. If a hammer is damaged, lost, or stolen, it can be quickly, easily, and fairly inexpensively replaced with a quick trip to Loews or Home Depot.

Unfortunately, the same can not be said for larger equipment such as excavators, bulldozers, tower cranes, dump trucks, etc. These items are just as vital to get jobs done but not as easy – or inexpensive to replace. If one of these items is damaged or stolen, it can put a serious crimp in your schedule… and your bottom line.

Minimize Risk of Theft

More than 11,000 pieces of heavy equipment were reported stolen in 2016, according to Construction Business Owner. Thankfully, there are things you can do to minimize the risk of theft, such as enforcing a theft-prevention policy, securing your job site with fencing, locking up all of your tools, and securing heavy equipment.

Minimize Risk of Damage

Employees should be well-trained in the proper use of heavy equipment and how to use them safely. It’s also essential that you take the time to read the equipment’s owner’s manual and adhere to factory recommendations. There should be a preventative maintenance program in place, and all equipment should be inspected before use – every time.

  1. Faulty Work

You can be held liable for construction defects in completed projects or those that are not up to code. And a client can seek reimbursement if you have not complied with local, state, and federal building regulations. This not only hurts your bottom line but can also harm your business’s reputation.

Minimize the Risk of Faulty Work

To minimize this risk, review the contract’s terms and policy coverage, implement a quality control program, and understand and comply with building codes and regulations.

Insurance: Your Safety Net

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, a piece of expensive equipment is damaged, or a smart thief gets through your anti-theft measures. Repairing or Replacing that equipment can cost your business tens of thousands of dollars. The right insurance can help cover those costs.

Commercial Property Insurance

Your commercial property policy typically covers tools and equipment that are lost or damaged. It may also cover your lost income if you are unable to continue work without the damaged equipment. However, Commercial Property Insurance typically does not cover equipment that is mobile, in a vehicle, or stored at a job site.

Builders’ Risk Insurance (Aka Inland Marine or Course of Construction coverage)

Builders’ Risk Insurance typically protects structures, materials, and equipment that are in transit, onsite, or in a temporary location. Some policies also cover additional costs such as lost sales if construction is delayed.

License and Permit Bond

A License and Permit Bond guarantees that a business will operate in accordance with local, state, and federal laws and regulations. If there is a mistake, this bond will cover damages your client claims.  However, unlike other insurance policies, you are responsible for paying back anything your provider pays for the claim.

Protect Yourself with the Right Contractors' Insurance

Save on Contractor InsuranceUnderstanding these three risks, minimizing them, and having the right insurance is vital for a healthy bottom line and the success of any contracting business.

Because the American Insuring Group specializes in contractors’ insurance, we can help you with all three. Plus, as independent agents, we can ensure that you get the best price by comparing quotes and coverages from multiple insurance companies. So don't delay. Give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

Tags: Construction Insurance, Contractor Insurance, commercial property insurance, Contractor Safety Management, Builders Risk Insurance

4 Types of Insurance Every Subcontractor Should Consider

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Nov 17, 2019

AIG 2 construction workersIf you get hired as a subcontractor, don’t assume that the general contractor’s Contractors Insurance covers you. As a subcontractor, you are NOT considered an employee of that contractor, and Contractor’s Insurance rarely covers subcontractors. Often, injury or damage caused by a subcontractor is specifically excluded from contractors' insurance policies.

And we don’t have to tell you how dangerous your occupation is. The chances of you or one of your employees injuring themselves or causing damage or injury to something or someone else is not out of the range of possibility.

In fact, according to Safety + Health magazine, a construction worker has a 75% likelihood of experiencing a disabling injury and a 1-in-200 chance of being fatally injured on the job. And don’t think because you own a small company that you’re immune to these statistics. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Nearly half of all deaths on construction sites occur in companies with ten or fewer employees or among those who are self-employed.”

While there are no laws that require you to purchase insurance as a subcontractor, you can see why it’s the smart thing to do. Plus, many contractors will require that you have certain types of insurance to work with them.

4 Types of Insurance Every Subcontractor Should Consider:

Commercial General Liability (CGL) Insurance

CGL is one of the most important insurance products for any business. CGL protects your business if you are liable for property damage. It covers the cost of medical and legal expenses and damages if you are found liable. One serious lawsuit can put you out of business if you don’t have the right protection.

Here are three examples of situations where CGL can help:

  • Someone visiting your job site trips and falls over materials and is injured.
  • An employee leaves the water running in the sink of a customer’s home and causes damage to the home.
  • Someone walking by your job site is hit by flying debris and dies.

As a subcontractor, you have two options: you can ask the general contractor to add you as an “additional insured” to their CGL policy, or you can purchase CGL on your own. Most general contractors will require that you purchase your own CGL policy and will very likely include this requirement in your contract and ask you to provide proof of insurance. When you talk to your insurance agent, make it clear that you are purchasing CGL is a subcontractor, not a general contractor.

Workers’ Compensation Insurance

If you are a sole proprietor and are injured on the job, would you have enough money to cover medical expenses? As s a sole proprietor would you be able to continue to provide for your family if you were unable to work for a month or two due to a worksite injury? Workers’ Compensation Insurance will help pay your medical expenses and even lost wages until you are back on your feet.

If you have employees, most states required (with a few exceptions) that you have Workers Comp for each of your employees. WC covers medical expenses, lost wages, and rehabilitation costs if an employee is injured or killed on the job.

Another benefit of workers’ comp insurance is that it covers legal costs if the injured employee were to sue your business.

Commercial Automobile Insurance

If you use a vehicle (which, of course, most in the construction industry do) to conduct business such as transporting materials, equipment, or employees, you should have commercial automobile insurance to help protect you in the event of an accident that causes bodily injury, loss of life, or property damage. 

A personal auto policy may not be enough as certain types of vehicles can be excluded from those policies, and it may not offer high enough limits.

Builders Risk Insurance

Builders Risk Insurance (Aka Course of Construction or Inland Marine Coverage) covers a building under construction along with materials related to the project. It typically provides coverage for damage caused by fire, wind, theft, lightning, hail, explosion, and vandalism. Standard exclusions include events such as an earthquake or employee theft.

We'll Help You Find the Contractor Insurance That's Right for You!

An insurance agent (like those at American Insuring Group) who specializes in Contractors Insurance can help ensure that you have the right insurance to protect your business. The independent agents at American Insuring Group will compare the cost of that coverage with several insurance companies to ensure that you get the best price on the protection you need! Give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

Tags: Commercial Vehicle Insurance, Builders Insurance, Construction Insurance, Contractor Insurance, Commercial Liability Insurance

Lower Workers Comp Cost by Addressing Asbestos Safety

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Nov 03, 2019

Asbestos-and-Contractors-Insurance-300A safe work environment translates to lower Workers Compensation and Contractors insurance costs. We talk a lot about the obvious hazards that can create unsafe construction worksites such as OSHA’s “fatal four” - falls, struck by an object, electrocution, and caught-in or between hazards.

But there is a less obvious risk at many construction sites - harmful exposures to asbestos. While most manufacturers have eliminated the use of products containing asbestos, the deadly substance still exists at many construction job sites, especially older structures.

The Mesothelioma Center reports that at least 1.3 million construction workers are still at risk for occupational asbestos exposure, and asbestos causes fifty percent of all work-related cancer deaths in the U.S. Demolition workers face the highest risk.

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a heat and flame-resistant mineral that was used in thousands of construction and manufacturing products (estimates are as high as 4,000) at one time and is still present in countless buildings today – especially structures (both homes and commercial properties) built before the 1970s.

Here are some of the products where asbestos was used:

  • Drywall and related products
  • Insulation products
  • Vermiculite products
  • Pipes and duct tape
  • Joint packing
  • Construction felts
  • Siding panels
  • Insulting cements
  • Textured paints
  • Roof shingles
  • Ceiling and floor tiles

Breathing airborne asbestos can result in many serious and fatal lung diseases such as mesothelioma, lung cancer, and pleural plaques. The 2018 International Journal of Epidemiology found that former construction workers are at least five times more likely to develop mesothelioma than the general population.

Most asbestos materials only become dangerous when they are disturbed by cutting, drilling, sanding, etc. Tiny fibers are then released into the air and can cause serious health issues for anyone who inhales or swallows them.

How to Identify Asbestos

If a structure was built between 1930 and 1977, there’s a chance it contains asbestos. From 1930 to 1950, asbestos insulation was very common, and from 1920 to 1990, insulation called vermiculite, which contains asbestos, was frequently used.

There were a few products that were marked as containing asbestos, but very few.  It’s nearly impossible to identify asbestos just by looking at it. The only way to confirm the presence of asbestos is to send samples to a lab to test.

If you suspect the presence of asbestos in a structure that you are about to work on, your best course of action is to limit access to the area and contact a trained and accredited asbestos professional.

If you discover asbestos in a structure, you are required to follow federal, state, and local regulations for the safe removal, collection, transportation, and disposal of Asbestos-Containing Materials (ACM), and failure to do so can result in criminal charges or daily civil penalties as high as $25,000 for each violation.

Removal and Disposal of Asbestos

OSHA provides many resources about asbestos to help ensure that it is removed safely and that regulations are followed. In Pennsylvania, anyone handling or removing ACM must be certified, and certain federal, state, and local government agencies must be notified before starting an abatement project.

Typical removal procedures include the following:

  • Constructing a barrier to limit exposure of materials
  • Applying water to reduce dust
  • Using proper PPE
  • Providing a place for workers to wet down
  • Placing materials removed in two layers of labeled, rip-proof bags

Asbestos can be disposed of in several ways:

  • In specialized landfills that deals with toxic and hazardous materials
  • Incineration
  • A chemical bath

There are plenty of apparent hazards on job sites; don’t miss the not-so-obvious danger of asbestos. If your construction company renovates properties built before the 2000s, it’s in the best interest of your employees and your bottom-line to have someone who is certified in asbestos abatement test and remove any ACM that is present.

Want to Save More on your Contractor Insurance and Workers Comp Insurance?

As independent agents, the American Insuring Group team will check with several companies to make sure you get the best price on all of your commercial insurance needs. Give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

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

Understand Electrical Hazards to Lower Contractor Insurance Costs

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Oct 27, 2019

Electrical_Safety_Lower_Insurance_300Construction sites are among the most dangerous work sites in the U.S., which is why Contractor Insurance costs – Workers’ Comp Insurance, Commercial Liability Insurance, etc. - tend to be higher than other industries. The good news is that creating safer work sites and reducing injuries can lower your insurance costs.

Electrocution is one of OSHA’s Fatal Four – the four types of accidents that were responsible for more than half of the construction workers’ deaths in 2017. Working with or around electricity can kill you, and construction work sites present many electrical hazards.

Most electricians are aware of the dangers electricity can pose and how to avoid injury from those dangers, but anyone on a construction site can be exposed to electrical hazards and should understand how to recognize those hazards and how to avoid them.

All construction employees should be thoroughly trained on proper electrical safety.

Here Are Five Common Electrical Hazards at Construction Worksites:

Power Tools

Here are a few Power Safety Tool Tips from OSHA:

  • Don’t carry tools by the cord
  • don’t yank on the cord to disconnect it from the receptacle
  • Keep cords away from heat, oil, and sharp edges
  • Disconnect tools when you aren’t using them, when changing accessories, and before servicing or cleaning them
  • Maintain your tools
  • Follow the Users’ manual

Power Lines

Every year, workers sustain injuries and lose their lives due to electrocutions caused by overhead and underground power lines. Look up for power lines on any job site, especially any time you are framing a building, constructing scaffolding, or painting.

OSHA requires that all objects remain at least ten feet away from any lines operating at 50 kV or less, 15 feet for 200 kV, 20 feet for 350 kV, 25 feet for 500 kV, 30 feet for 650 kV, and 35 feet for 800 kV. If you have no choice but to work closer than ten feet, have the power company de-energize or move the power line.

Buried power lines can be just as dangerous, but unlike overhead power lines, buried power lines aren’t easily identified. Don’t take a chance; call 811 before digging.

Improper Grounding

Improper grounding (Aka earthing) of equipment and circuitry is the most common OSHA electrical violation. Grounding helps stabilize voltage and protect workers (and their equipment) from power surges.

Wet Conditions

Water is an excellent conductor of electricity and increases the risk of electrocution. If a worker touches water that is touching electricity, they can become the electricity’s path to the ground.  Workers should never operate electrical equipment in wet conditions.

Exposed Electrical Parts

There are usually plenty of exposed electrical parts on a construction job site such as electrical cords, temporary lighting, open power distribution units, and detached insulation parts. Contact with any of these can cause injury or even death.

These are just five of the most common electrical hazards on a job site. There are many other hazards that all construction workers should be trained on if you want to keep your workers safe, avoid OSHA fines, and keep your insurance costs down.

Additional Precautions

  • Only certified electricians should install or work on electrical systems such as receptacles, outlets, switches, etc.
  • Proper protective gear should be supplied to workers including insulated and approved head protection when working around overhead wires, face and eye protection to minimize injuries from arc blasts, and hand protection.
  • Training is key to a safe work environment.

What Other Steps Can You Take to Lower Your Contractors Insurance?

If you want to keep your Contractors Insurance rates as low as possible, find an independent agent who specializes in Contractors Insurance to ensure you get the right coverage and is willing to check with several insurance companies to ensure that you get the best price. That’s what you’ll find at American Insuring Group!  Give us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, Contractor Insurance, workers comp, Contractor Safety Management, Safety Programs

Masonry Contractors: How to lower Contractor and WC Costs

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Sep 01, 2019

masonry-construction-insurance-300Construction is one of the most hazardous occupations today, and masonry contractors are no exception. According to Masonry Magazine, masonry construction is one of the high-risk specialty trades with a nonfatal injury rate of 191.5 per 10,000 equivalent full-time workers.

Creating a safer work environment for those tradespeople helps you avoid OSHA fines, increase employee morale, keep workers on the job, and lower your Contractor Insurance and WC costs.

About the Work

Masonry is a physically demanding job, and masons often work in fast-paced environments. Lifting heavy materials and standing, kneeling, and bending for long periods of time can be strenuous on workers. Plus, masons often work outside where it can be muddy, dirty, and dusty.

Common hazards for masonry contractors include the Occupation Health and Safety’s (OSHA) top four causes of construction fatalities  – falls, struck by, caught in/between, and electrocutions, along with cuts, heat exhaustion, exposure to noxious chemical, lifting and moving heavy objects, and overexposure to dust.

Here are four of the most common hazards masonry contractors face and ways to minimize those hazards:

Slips, Trips, and Falls

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 26% of nonfatal work injuries that result in days away from work are the result of slips, trips, and falls. Construction workers are at risk for fatal falls from height by more than seven times the rate of other industries, according to the National Safety Council.

Masons are often required to use ladders and scaffolding to complete their work, which adds to the risk of falling and injury or death. 

Here are five ladder safety tips to avoid falls:

  • Inspect ladders for defects before using
  • Place the ladder on a stable and level surface
  • Use three points of contact at all times (one hand and two feet/two hands and one foot)
  • Don’t lean, stretch, or make sudden moves while on a ladder
  • The proper angle for setting up a ladder is to place its base a quarter of the working length of the ladder from the wall or other vertical surface

Here are five scaffolding safety tips to avoid falls:

  • Scaffolding should be erected by someone who is properly trained and qualified
  • Inspect scaffolding before using
  • Use proper fall protection
  • Fully plank the equipment
  • Use guardrails

Electrocution

The CDC reports that there were 82 electrocutions or 0.8 electrocution fatalities per 100,000 full-time workers in 2015. To avoid electrocution, know the location of overhead and underground power lines to avoid accidental contact, inspect all tools including extension and power cords for damage before using, ensure that all electrical equipment is properly grounded or double insulated, and protect cords from foot traffic, forklifts, and other equipment.

Lifting Injuries

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, lifting heavy items is one of the leading causes of injury in the workplace, and this type of injury often takes a long time to heal. The main causes of these injuries are the weight of objects, awkward postures, high frequency and long-duration lifting, inadequate handholds, and environmental factors.

Here are five lifting safety tips:

  • Use mechanical means to move heavy materials such as forklifts whenever possible
  • When manually lifting a heavy object, place it close to your body at the “power zone” height – mid-thigh to mid chest
  • Bend at the knees, not the waist
  • Turn by moving the feet rather than twisting at the waist
  • Take regular breaks

Heat Illness

Masonry contractors can become ill or even die while working in extreme heat or humid conditions regardless of their age or physical condition.  To help prevent heat illness, OSHA recommends that employers provide workers with water, rest, and shade and monitor workers for signs of illness.

Implementing a culture of safety from the top to the bottom of your organization, providing safety training, enforcing safety processes, and providing proper equipment and PPE can help reduce the number of injuries on your worksite and improve your bottom line. 

Is Your Contractors Insurance Too High?

If you think your Contractors Insurance is too high, contact one of the experienced agents at the American Insuring Group at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online. We specialize in both Contractors and WC insurance and will compare your insurance costs with several companies to ensure that you get the best price.

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

5 Situations When Contractor’s Workers’ Comp Claims May be Denied

Posted by David Ross on Sun, Aug 25, 2019

save-contractors-insurance-300Since the passing of the Pennsylvania Workmen’s Compensation Act in 1915, most contractors with employees are required to have Workers’ Compensation Insurance by law. The purpose of Workers’ Compensation insurance is to protect both employee and employer when an employee is injured on the job - regardless of who is at fault.

Workers’ Comp covers medical costs, disability payments, death benefits, and lost wages to the injured employee and protects employers from direct lawsuits by injured employees. Failure to have Workers’ Comp Insurance can lead to lawsuits by employees and criminal prosecution.  

While Workers’ Compensation Insurance is meant to cover work-related injuries and illnesses that prevent an employee from doing their job, there are some things Workers’ Compensation Insurance will not cover.

Here are Five Situations When Workers’ Compensation Insurance Benefits Could be Denied:

Off-Site Work Injuries

The primary purpose of Workers’ Compensation is to protect employees who are injured on the job; therefore, any injuries that are not work-related and occur off a job site are not covered, but you would be surprised how blurry the line between on and off job site can become.

If an employee is injured on their lunch-break and they are not on a job site, the injury is typically not covered under Workers’ Comp. However, if the employee is injured while picking up lunch for their boss or while in an employee lunchroom, it usually is.

Typically, Workers Comp also covers employees who are injured at events such as parties or picnics hosted by the employer.

Workers’ Comp generally does not cover employees who are injured while driving to or from work unless they are driving a company car, doing errands for the employer, traveling on business, or regularly travels for work.

Company Rule Violations

If an employee is injured while violating a company safety rule or any other act the employer has prohibited, they may be ineligible for Workers’ Compensation depending on the level of misconduct. Sometimes that employee’s medical costs and lost wages are covered under WC, but does not allow the employee to sue the employer.

Breaking the Law

If an employee is injured while breaking the law, any Workers’ Compensation claims may be denied.

Under the Influence

If an employee is injured while under the influence of alcohol or illicit drugs, which impairs their motor skills, any Workers’ Comp claim could be denied – regardless of what the company policy is. When an injured employee goes to the doctor for a work-related injury, employers have the right to ask for a drug and alcohol test.

Self-Inflicted Injuries

The majority of Workers’ Compensation claims are legitimate, but as with anything else, there are dishonest employees who may purposely cause their own injury to collect on a claim. Although Workers’ Comp usually does not take fault into account, a claim based on a self-inflicted injury may be denied.

Security cameras throughout a job site can often help determine whether or not Workers’ Compensation insurance should cover an injury.   

Are You Paying Too Much for Workers’ Compensation?

The agents at American Insuring Group specialize in Workers’ Compensation Insurance. They will work hard to ensure that you get quality Workers’ Comp Insurance at the best rates by comparing your costs with companies who are competing for your business.

Let us help you save money while still protecting your employees and your business by giving us a call at (800) 947-1270 or (610) 775-3848 or connect with us online.

Tags: Workers Compensation Insurance, Contractor Insurance, PA Workers Compensation Insurance, Contractor Safety Management