What is A Contractor’s Liability Insurance?

A contractor’s liability insurance is a safety net for people who work in construction. It is a specialized form of insurance against different risks and liabilities that contractors face, like property damage, bodily injury, and even legal fees arising from lawsuits. This article explains it in detail.

What is This Insurance About and What Does it Do?

A contractor’s liability insurance (CLI) covers building professionals and contractors in case of construction errors. It is purchased by contractors who design and build construction projects. 

It covers both mistakes made by the contractor and third parties hired by the contractor. These third parties may be needed in case of specialized work, like drywalling, electric work, plumbing, and such.

Not all contractors provide all kinds of construction-related services. Usually, only larger contractors offer them in-house. Yet they’re also exposed to more risks, which this insurance protects them from. 

Why is A Contractor’s Liability Insurance Needed?

It covers risks that aren’t covered by a General Commercial Liability insurance (CGL). A CGL doesn’t include professional liability exclusions, which is why a contractor’s liability insurance can come in handy. 

What is Covered Under A CLI?

Many construction-related activities can be included in a list that’s in the policy documentation. Or it may be tailored to the needs of the contractor purchasing it. Some policies include a list of undertakings that aren’t a part of coverage. 

Contractors can buy a standing contractor’s liability insurance that covers everything that the contractor does. They may also choose to purchase a policy that covers particular projects with detailed time frames.

CLI vs Builders’ Risk Coverage

Both of these types of insurance cover a similar set of conditions, entities involved, and types of loss in a building project. Although, the CLU is usually taken out by the contractor. While builders’ risk is taken out by the project’s owner.

Also, the CLI can be taken out for building improvement projects, yet it may not be available for a new project without any existing structure. Simultaneously, builders’ risk coverage can secure projects that don’t have an existing structure. 

Summing Up Contractor’s Liability Insurance

Contractors liability insurance provides coverage for both third-party hires and contractors, like designers, architects, and engineers. It helps in case of errors and mistakes made on the job, and other losses incurred during a building project.

Mandatory Workers’ Compensation Insurance for Contractors in California

The California Contractors State License Board (CSLB) has announced that starting January 1, 2023, certain licensed contractors must carry workers’ compensation insurance, regardless of whether they have employees. These contractors include those in the concrete (C-8), HVAC (C-20), asbestos abatement (C-22), and tree service (D-49) sectors. This new requirement is the result of Senate Bill 216, which was signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom on September 30, 2022. Additionally, the bill mandates that all contractors, including those without employees, must have workers’ compensation insurance by January 1, 2026. This type of insurance is required only for C-39 Roofing contractors, regardless of their employee count. The CSLB works to safeguard consumers and ensure fairness for contractors by requiring more of them to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Consumers can verify a contractor’s license status and insurance information on the CSLB website.

Link: https://www.cslb.ca.gov/Resources/PressReleases/2022/Workers_comp_release_10_11.pdf

Loss Exposure of Contractors

Contractors are subject to some unique loss exposures. When a prospective client needs certain types of construction work done, contractors either bid for the job or negotiate a contract. Due to this, the customer specifies what should be done in the job specification. It is common for contracting businesses to have multiple locations. There are frequent changes to the job site. There may be a contractor who controls one job site while the employees or subcontractors control other job sites simultaneously or sequentially. As a contractor, you are exposed to a unique range of loss exposures. It is imperative for any contractor to evaluate and analyze their risks before obtaining contractors insurance.  

Insurance Premium Audit

Your insurer conducts a premium audit to become sure you have paid the proper premiums over the period of the policy for the insurance coverage you need.

By analyzing your company’s financial records, an insurance premium audit determines your actual risk exposure. Every year, your insurance company conducts an audit of your policy.  

Typically, when you start a new insurance policy, you estimate your business costs, payroll, and income.  Audits are performed by insurers or independent auditors at the end of policy periods to determine gross revenue and payroll data for individuals or businesses.

 Auditing an insurance policy should follow several best practices:

To ensure a successful audit, it is crucial to plan ahead and collect all the necessary documentation in advance. Organize your records and documents so the auditor can easily access them. Despite the possibility of higher premiums, be honest about the business’ operations and risk management practices. You should ask the auditor questions if you have any concerns or if something is unclear.

As a general rule, an insurance audit is conducted to ensure that the insurer has the right insurance premiums in place to protect against potential risks. In order to ensure a smooth and efficient audit, businesses should follow these best practices.

Contractors Insurance Certificates and Endorsments

What is ‘Additional Insured’ Endorsement?

Additional insured refers to a person or organization identified as an insured under an insurance declaration, in addition to whomever the insurance policy is named to. After the endorsement is signed, that entity will enjoy same benefit similar to the named insured including the filing of claims, and will be protected under the insurance policy.

What is Certificate of Insurance?

Certificate of Insurance (COI) is a document issued by an insurer to the policy holder to certify that an insurance policy has been acquired. The certificate shows specified information regarding the insurance, such as the type of insurance coverage, the effective date of the policy and the amount of the applicable liability. However, the certificate is not a substitute to the actual policy document and it is a non-negotiable document that cannot be assigned to a third party.

What are Loss Runs?

Loss runs are reports compiled and generated by the insurance company that records a detailed history of the claims information of each policy holder. Even if a policy holder has no filed claims, a loss run report should still be generated to reflect no losses. Every insured has the right to receive a copy of loss runs report from their insurance company and this is available without any additional charges.

What is Waiver of Subrogation?

Waiver of Subrogation is a type of endorsement on an insurance policy wherein the insurer waived its right to pursue any claim and take legal actions against the responsible party for the loss suffered by an insured. For instance, the landlord of an apartment signed an agreement with his tenant stating that they would not be held liable for any damages occurred to the rental unit. If any damages occur, the landlord will file claims to his insurer for the damages incurred in his property. However, the Waiver of Subrogation will prohibit the insurance company from coming after the tenant for the damages incurred in the property.

What is Primary and Non-Contributory Wording Endorsement?

Primary and non-contributory wording endorsement is commonly used in general liability insurance policy to stipulate the order on how the insurance company will respond on multiple policies. The term primary on your insurance policy means that the insurer will pay you first in the event of a claim, and the non-contributory means that the insurer will not only pay you first but will also pay the full amount of your claim.

Owner Controlled Insurance Program (OCIP)

OCIP is an insurance coverage provided by a property owner to contractors and subcontractors during a renovation or construction project. This type of insurance coverage is generally designed for big projects whose total constructions costs exceed $5 million. It covers all the liability and possible losses that may arise during the period of the project. As the project owner is acquiring all the necessary insurance coverage for the project, contractors and subcontractors do not include the cost of individual insurance in their bids for the project.

In OCIP, all the necessary insurance coverage for the whole project, including the construction, workers’ compensation, hazard, materials, terrorist and other building-related insurance coverage are acquired by the project owner as part of a single insurance policy from a single insurance company.

OCIP also provides standardized insurance coverage with high liability limits for all the contractors and subcontractors, and this can reduce the construction costs by approximately one percent to two percent compared to traditional insurance policies acquired by each contractors and subcontractors.

Most OCIPs are multi-year coverage with fixed duration, with the most typical duration is between two and five years. This insurance coverage normally applies to all the contractors and subcontractors working on the project site, which includes the main constructions site, lay down yards, storage areas and on-site fabrication.

Advantages of OCIPs for Owners

  1. Cost. The acquisition of OCIPs can result to two to three percent bid reduction. This can be achieved through premium credits for a volume purchase of insurance coverage by project owner.
  1. Scope of Coverage. Project owner has a guaranteed wide insurance coverage for their OCIPs as compared to traditional non-OCIP policies, which an owner sets minimum insurance requirements.
  1. Improved Risk Management. With OCIP’s single insurance policy, risk control management and claim handling are greatly improved, and dispute among contractors and subcontractors are easily resolved with the limits of the insurance policy.
  1. Policy Limits. In OCIPs, project owner can provide more than $800 million in insurance coverage to contractors and subcontractors, in contrast to traditional non-OCIP policy where it can only carry less than $1 million in CGL coverage.

Advantages of OCIPs for Contractors

  1. Safety and Loss Control. The implementation of a wide risk control management program can enhance existing safety programs of the participating contractors, reducing injuries and other construction hazards to employees.
  1. Claims Management. The large management program of project owner through the OCIP can result to coordinated and easy claims handling procedures.
  1. Dispute between Contractors. By covering all of the project’s contractors, disputes and subrogation issues between insurers and contractors are eliminated. In traditional non-OCIP programs, contractors/subcontractors and project owner are represented by different insurers and lawyers, and this potential source of conflict is eliminated in the OCIP program.
  1. Higher Limits. Smaller contractors and subcontractors are allowed to participate in the projects that need higher liability limits.
  1. Small or Minority Contractors. Project owners provide insurance coverage to smaller or minor contractors who do not have the capability to secure necessary insurance coverage for bigger projects.

Disadvantages of OCIPs for Owners

  1. Administrative Burden. OCIPs increased administrative burden to the part of the project owner, and if not managed competently, it could lead to additional cost to the owner.
  1. Market Risk. Premium cost for the OCIP can increase if the insurance market hardens, which could potentially hurt the project owner.
  1. Bid Preparation. Additional costs and preparations are needed in imposing an OCIP programs, which is a time consuming and brings additional work to the project owner.

Disadvantages of OCIPs for Contractors

  1. Limited Insurance Coverage. OCIP is designed to provide insurance coverage for work performed on the project. However, this coverage is normally subject to various exclusions which could lessen the coverage to the contractor compared to what they could get in traditional insurance policies.
  1. Complicated Bidding. A complicated bidding process is required to demonstrate that the insurance coverage has been removed from the contractor’s bid price.
  1. Documentation Requirements. Projects with OCIP have more paper works and report intensive, imposing additional administrative burdens to contractors and subcontractors.