How many of these 10 questions can you answer correctly?
General contractors (GCs) are the playmakers for any significant construction project, taking responsibility for all key operations such as construction assignments, job site supervision, and activity coordination. Typically, GCs have their own construction specialty (example: malls, restaurants, office buildings, stadiums, arenas, parks, etc.). GCs are often larger concerns with a tremendous amount of expertise in their area of specialty. The level of experience is critical since it permits a construction project to be led efficiently and more successfully.
GCs may assign/award work in a variety of ways, such as:
GCs may either be hands-on operators, who actively take part in construction, or they may be "paper" operators, overseeing the actual work of other contractors. The general contractor may rent, lease or borrow equipment (including equipment operators) for use by subcontractors. Since the general contractor is responsible for the job site, he/she should be aware of the proper use of the equipment during construction. Is the equipment being used as it was designed to be used? Is the equipment's load capacity routinely exceeded? Finally, GCs have many contractual and administrative obligations such as making sure that critical project deadlines are met, that payroll is handled, materials and equipment are obtained and that the project's budget is followed (avoiding cost overruns).
GCs face a myriad of loss exposures that vary substantially according to the type of construction project. Their insurance needs may range from a simple, low limit package of coverage to a huge wrap-up program, involving multiple lines of business, different insurers and reinsurers with various layers of coverage. Firms involved as general contractors must work with insurance professionals who are equally adept at handling large tasks.
Emotions have a huge impact on driving. Long before starting your car, you've had to wake up, deal with morning stress, perhaps get your kids moving, and worry about work (including getting there on time). Now that you're already stressed out, you start driving and are faced with a variety of drivers who:
"Road rage" refers to driving incidents involving aggressive or violent behavior. Various sources have blamed increased traffic accidents and fatalities on road rage. Others debunk the term as a "fad," claiming that traffic statistics don't reflect increased violence on the part of drivers.
Every driver is guilty of acts that can be blamed on lapsed judgment. You or I may make a proper lane change or legally proceed through an intersection 99 out of 100 times. But those times when we do err, the drivers who witness our mistakes may assume that we're hopelessly inept or are doing something deliberate. Take a deep breath from behind your wheel and recognize that the driver who has just done something "stupid" is normally a decent driver.
It makes sense to give other drivers the benefit of the doubt. One reason is because it's earned. Most drivers do a terrific job on the road. Especially when you consider the dangers inherent in driving, such as traffic congestion, poor weather, time-pressures and routine road hazards (breakdowns, potholes, pedestrians, etc.)
A better reason for staying calm behind the wheel is that cool-headed drivers make better decisions. They have a better chance of avoiding or minimizing accidents.
Finally, you may run into serious problems if you cause an accident while acting too aggressive. There's a greater chance of causing serious injury and a higher likelihood of legal consequences. You also increase your chances of being sued. Oh, and let's not forget that insurers aren't seeking to cover drivers who fail to use common sense.
Driving is tough enough without complicating it with rude or aggressive behavior and car insurance isn't free, so start your car, give other drivers a break, and keep a cool head. It's an attitude that creates the best chance for getting where you need to go....safely.
Making sure that your condo or co-op is properly covered begins with a thorough reading of your condo or co-op documents (i.e., by-laws, provisions, regulations, etc.). It may help to have your insurance agent review the papers, paying close attention to items such as:
Real property–coverage for the structural part of the condominium or co-op you individually own such as interior walls, appliances, fixtures, plumbing, duct work, wiring, carpeting, flooring, possibly private garages, and permanent improvements you make to the property.
Personal property–possessions that are portable, such as clothing, furniture, toys, books, objects of art, home electronics, computers, etc.
Loss assessment–required contributions that members make for the repair or replacement of property that is owned in common.
Additional living expense–covers the additional cost of temporary housing, food and other increased costs of living when you are forced from your condominium or co-op by a fire or other covered cause of loss.
Liability coverage–covers you for your negligence in injuring other people or property on your premises (those accidents for which the condo association is not responsible) or through actions related to many personal activities or hobbies. The policy also provides defense coverage, including hiring and paying for a lawyer (if necessary) and paying most court costs.
Medical payments–coverage is for minor injuries to people other than residents of the household and the payment does not require a lawsuit.
Do you need answers about whether you have proper coverage? Get in touch with one of our insurance professionals!
Under a commercial property policy, coverage is significantly different for buildings that are vacant for extended periods. Usually, certain types of coverage are completely eliminated during the vacancy. Insurance companies are interested in protecting ongoing businesses and premiums are based upon active occupancy. Continued, full coverage may be provided, but that is only at the insurance company’s discretion. If a vacant risk is accepted, it usually means paying more premium.
Before any coverage restrictions can be imposed, the insurance company must define exactly what they mean by vacancy and the definition is affected by the type of occupancy:
Tenant - When the insured is a tenant and the policy covers that insured's property interest, the definition of building is the unit or suite that has been rented or leased to the tenant. That building is considered vacant when it no longer contains enough business personal property to conduct the customary operations of the insured tenant.
Building Owner Or General Lessee - When the insured is a building owner or general lessee, building is defined as the entire building. The building is considered vacant UNLESS a specified percentage of the total square footage is rented to a lessee or sub-lessee and used by the lessee or sub-lessee to conduct its customary operations OR is used by the building owner to conduct customary operations.
Buildings Under Construction - Buildings that are under construction or renovation are not considered to be vacant.
Now that vacancy has been defined, the vacancy condition can be stated. If the building where loss or damage occurs has been vacant (see definition above) for more than 60 consecutive days before the loss:
When vacancy does occur, many companies, for an additional premium, will add a provision (sometimes called a Vacancy Permit). This form changes the policy wording so that it provides coverage for the property during specific time periods when the applicable premises are vacant.
We invite you to contact our office for a no-obligation review of all your insurance needs.
Artisan Contractors are smaller operations that work in a variety of settings. They may be involved on large construction projects under the direction of general contractors, operate in smaller residential projects, specialize in installations or work on renovation or remodeling projects.
Artisan contractors are involved in many types of specialties such as plumbing, electrical work, minor excavation, landscaping, heating, air conditioning, painting, roofing, dry-walling, carpentry, remediation services, asphalt/paving, etc. These operations need a full complement of insurance services, such as general liability, inland marine (to protect their tools/equipment), workers compensation, commercial auto, excess liability and commercial property.
There is no standard definition of an artisan contractor. They are typically defined according to an individual insurance company's underwriting rules. The factors typically considered are:
Complete information must also be developed concerning losses that may occur on their customer's premises and damage a contractor may cause to property that belong to third parties, but which is in the contractor's possession or control.
Artisan contractors need knowledgeable insurance professionals to help them identify their protection needs, especially in the areas of handling exposures to the contractor's tools and equipment. We invite you to contact our agency for a no-obligation review of your insurance needs.
Weddings, regardless the current economy, are still quite expensive events. The average cost of a wedding still approaches $30,000. Insurance has become a necessary component to provide special protection for this extremely important, personal event.
Wedding insurance is not standardized, so policy wording can be quite different among the specialty insurance companies that offer the protection. Wedding insurance can help protect against the huge expenses suffered if, for certain reasons, the wedding is either postponed or is cancelled. Protection can be purchased to respond to loss involving unrecoverable expenses as well as to lawsuits that result from a wedding that is held as planned.
Usually, to qualify for coverage, a wedding’s cancellation or delay has to be caused by an eligible source of loss/disruption such as catastrophic weather, a church where the wedding is to be held suffers smoke damage and is suddenly closed, or the reception caterer closes her business the day before the wedding.
Items covered by the policy are usually expenses that can’t be recovered (non-refundable). Eligible expenses often include the following:
Wedding Personal Liability
This coverage protects against losses or lawsuits that allege that the insured/honoree is responsible for bodily injury, personal injury or property damage to a third party. However, any claim must be due to an incident that takes place at the wedding (including reception). The coverage obligation includes a duty to legally defend an insured/honoree against claims/losses.
Example: The Brydals are sued by a best man who was seriously injured when the nervous groom turned abruptly to get the wedding ring and knocked the best man off a podium.
Many wedding policies offer additional coverages such as:
Homeowner (HO) insurance coverage, which protects against damage to household property and provides liability protection, is quite standardized. In other words, different insurance companies offer HO coverage in, essentially, the same manner.
A key issue for coverage is that the policyholder must live at the residence premises. Such premises are commonly defined in policies. Wording used in many HO forms define the residence premises as the dwelling “where you reside.” These three words create substantial consequences.
There are several instances where a named insured’s living arrangement may result in a loss of HO protection. Consider the following:
It is important that agents be aware of changes in living circumstances and that policyholders report these changes promptly. Coverage gaps may be handled in various ways such as the use of a trust endorsement, voluntary acceptance of the living arrangement by an insurer to maintain coverage or replacing an HO with a dwelling fire policy. However, a basic dwelling policy lacks liability protection, so it would have to be arranged separately.
As mentioned above, coverage for losses depend upon “residence,” a term that often has a special definition. A common definition used by many homeowner insurance companies is a requirement that the policyholder be actively residing in the home. However, there has been confusion over WHEN such residency is required.
Over the years, many losses have been denied due to homeowner residency, creating litigation. Courts have not been consistent in clarifying things. Insurers, on their part, have been seeking stronger, clearer policy language. In response, policy language has been introduced in the hope of creating better understanding of how HO coverage applies with regard to residency as well as to offer options to deal with different residency situations.
Insurance language is now being added to policies that define residency to mean that, at the time of a loss, the policyholder must have been living in their home at the inception (beginning) of a policy term. A real problem occurs if, for some reason, at the policy period’s start, the policyholder was not in the home (say the home was under construction or the home was just closed on in a sale and the new owners have yet to move in).
However, insurance companies are also beginning the use of options that can be added which changes the residency definition in different ways. For instance, one option changes the requirement to the policyholder residing in the home at the time of the loss. Another option allows reference to a specific time period to define residence. That option would allow a policyholder to share residency situations with an insurer in order that both are aware of what is happening with the home. For instance, the residence definition can be changed to accommodate a temporary status, such as a policyholder’s temporary residence in a rehab center or prolonged hospitalization.
Of course, there could still be instances in which coverage may be endangered because of an unanticipated residency change, but the wider definition options should allow policyholders a better chance to make certain that coverage is available when a loss occurs. Now more than ever, it is VERY important to read your policy and, if needed, get the help of an insurance professional.
Auto Dealer Operations
Garage operations are businesses that have hybrid coverage need. With such businesses, the lines between the general liability for the operations and the automobile liability exposures blur and overlap. A general liability policy does not provide enough coverage and a commercial auto policy provides too much. Fortunately there is a way to properly handle this need. The Auto Dealers Coverage Form contains premises liability, products liability, automobile liability and automobile physical damage coverage. Operations that should be protected by this policy include the following:
An Auto Dealers policy may also be written to customize how coverage applies to different types of vehicles. For instance, Joe's Towing Service has a fleet of four tow trucks, as well as a sedan used by the owner. The towing service also does repairs and regularly has customer vehicles on their premises. Rather than having both liability and physical damage on all cars the services either owns or handles, Joe selects the following:
· Liability and Physical Damage - for his two newer tow trucks and his sedan.
· Liability only - for his two, older tow trucks
· Physical Damage Liability only - for vehicles belonging to customers
Like other types of policies, an Auto Dealers coverage form also provides legal defense coverage. In other words, the policy handles the costs associated with defending the policy owner against claims and lawsuits. This protection does not affect the separate limits of insurance that are selected for the liability coverages.
Home Business Basics
Homeowner (HO) policies aren’t meant to insure businesses that are run out of a home. Premiums paid for homeowners coverage are for handling losses related to the ownership and use of a residence and related structures.
Therefore no liability coverage is available for business activities such as customers who slip and fall on your premises, damage to business property (owned or in your control), injury caused by things you make (products liability), or damage due to services that you promote or provide. It is also unlikely that an insurer would provide a legal defense against business related claims.
Generally, an HO policy does not provide workers compensation coverage for any employee. Medical expense and liability coverage may be available for workers who are ineligible for workers compensation, such as maids, butlers, or nannies, but such coverage only applies if an injury occurs while performing residential tasks.
Example: You send your nanny to deliver copies of your business proposal and, on the way to the client, she is seriously injured in a fall. Your policy won’t provide any medical expense coverage for your nanny because she was performing a business-related chore.
There is no coverage for detached garages, barns, or similar structures on your residence premises if they are used in whole or part for business.
Example: You store $3,000 worth of equipment and supplies that you use in your job in your garage and the garage burns down. The fire loss to the garage becomes ineligible because of its partial business use.
A basic HO policy may protect certain property. However, the coverage may be limited to as little as a few hundred dollars. Items qualifying for limited coverage include business personal property kept in or around your home, business personal property kept at a location other than in or around your home or landlord's furnishings. One way to improve your coverage is to add policy options that do the following:
We invite you to contact our office for a no-obligation consultation to discuss your specific business situations.