Let’s just Sub that out……

Risk mitigation standards to keep in mind when using Subcontractors:

The topic of subcontracting comes up in several scenarios when it comes to small businesses, especially contracting and construction. This topic can bring up many questions from a legal, tax, and insurance standpoint. I’ll leave the legal and tax part to your Attorney and CPA. Here we will discuss, from an insurance standpoint, how to protect yourself and your business.

Get info about CPA and Accountants Liability Insurance at www.myinsurancequestion.com

Subcontracting in the perspective of 1099’s vs W-2 employees is generally  a very grey area with most contractors. It does not have to be. Here is why. Working with your independent insurance agent should allow you to determine if your employees truly are 1099 or traditional W2 employees. Many business owners think they have contractors, but to the letter of the law the workers are employees and require your business to cover them under a workers’ compensation policy. When it comes to General Contractors and those who have true subcontractors working for them, you still need to make sure you are protecting yourself.

Most business owners have chosen to utilize subcontractors for a combination of the following reasons: a specialized trade your business does not primarily do, the contractor is brought in for a specific job for a specific purpose, & this person or company you have “hired” is not an employee so you are not providing any typical employer benefits and it is your intent for them to cover their own business liabilities on their own in hopes of taking this off of your company. At least partially take this risk off of your company. When it comes to managing your risk, many business owners wonder, am I doing everything I can to mitigate these risks? There are many benefits of subcontracting work out, but if not done properly you are opening yourself and your business to a significant amount of liability. This liability could be costly, even detrimental to your business.

If you hire subcontractors, find out if you need separate insurance policies at My Insurance Question.com

Here are a few basics requirements that you will want to make sure you verify with all of your subcontractors before they step onto your jobsite:

Confirm proof of Basic Insurance Coverages:

                General Liability: (Common Limit Amount $1Million Per Occurrence/$2Million General Aggregate) This coverage varies from company to company, but the basic coverage is intended to protect from damages to 3rd parties as a result of the business operations for the company being insured. So if your subcontractors work operations cause physical damage or bodily injury to someone (excluding employees). This policy is a basic protection to cover those types of damages. For most artisan subcontractors we typically recommend a minimum limit of $1 Million per occurrence with a $2 Million General Aggregate limit.
                 

                 Workers Compensation: This coverage is intended to cover medical expenses and a portion of lost wages for injuries incurred on the job for employees working for the business. This in particular is commonly overlooked since many subs are owner only companies, however if that owner only company despite not being required by law to carry workers comp gets injured on your jobsite you could see some liability for that. Making sure they provide a certificate of insurance to protect yourself. (Please note: current insurance certificates also point out if any officer the company are excluded from coverage; if you have a sub that does not have employees and they are excluding themselves then their coverage might not be sufficient to protect you)

                Commercial Auto: (Common Limit amount ($1 Million) With some projects there are many vehicles used in the course of the operation. Whether going from one jobsite to another but also going to pick up supplies. Making sure your subs have Commercial auto liability coverage. At least making sure Hired/Non-Owned Auto endorsements are added to their General liability/BOP policy can be a minimum coverage to consider if they truly don’t have any vehicles.

                Umbrella/Excess Liability Policy (amount needed will vary): Umbrella limits to increase the liability limits can be important especially depending on the size of the project and how many contractors your sub works for, a standard $1M/$2M General Liability Limit might not be sufficient. The reason for this is a $1 Million Occurrence limit on General Liability means the most one claim would pay is $1 million. If a sub has 2 claims of that amount, then they do not have any more coverage as their limits have all been used up on a $2 million General aggregate limit. For a small contractor having a $1 Million-$2 Million excess liability limit can be a good buffer to extend that, however for larger contractors this can easily go up to $5 Million or $10 Million and sometimes even higher.

If a subcontractor is doing major projects for you and several other general contractors but doesn’t have higher limits, one or two major claims could potentially wipe out their insurance limits leaving no coverage for the remainder of a policy period. If you have several projects that are total over the subs limits or if you have a multi-million-dollar project, the liability limit of some subs might not be to the level they should be at in the event of a catastrophic claim especially.

                Waiver of Subrogation & Additional Insured: Additional Insured wording for the General liability and Commercial auto coverage and Waiver of subrogation on all three lines of insurance are two good ways to keep your company further protected as the General Contractor. An additional insured endorsement adds certain protections to the Additional insured for jobs the sub works on for you and the waiver of subrogation protects you from the subs insurance company from going after your company for damages. Keep in mind, these are sometimes put on a blanket or individual basis. The blankets in particular typically require a Written Contract between you and the subcontractor. Which leads me to….

                Have a Written Contract: This day in age there is no good reason not to have a written contract of some sort for business conducted, especially in the construction field. Too many things can go wrong so it’s best to have a written contract. Especially on that has a Hold Harmless Agreement, insurance requirements with the above minimums and including the Waiver of Subrogation & Additional Insured requirements for applicable policies. There are many samples of contracts you can find online, as always, check with your attorney to make sure it has everything you need as well.

                Screen Certificates of Insurance: In a time where insurance policies can be very costly, some sub-contractors do try to skirt the system. Fraudulent certificates of insurance whether they are for policies that never existed or for policies that have expired and the sub altered the dates these do unfortunately happen. The best way to keep from becoming a victim of this is to have certificates of insurance sent from the subcontractors Insurance Agent and make sure you are listed as a Certificate Holder. This way their agent will be able to let you know if a policy is cancelled before the expiration date.

These are just a few basics policies you will want to make sure you require from your subcontractors. Consulting with your Insurance Agent and your attorney can be best practices to make sure you doing everything you can to protect yoursel

Construction Contracting risks for Workers Comp Quotes

Are Construction Contracting Risks hard to quote or impossible?

Working with contractors for commercial insurance can be an exciting struggle. The benefit of working with companies that build or fix our homes and businesses every day is a rewarding challenge. That challenge can be tough to explain. Especially to someone who is just wanting to get their business quoted and move on with their day or with some one who has never experienced a claim. Below are some key things to consider when helping business owners search for commercial insurance.

FInd out just how difficult it is to get Workers Compensation Coverage for some contractors.

 

Why is contracting so hard to quote?

Contracting companies or Construction firms that perform building work represent some of the highest risk industries. They represent such a high risk because of the nature of work that is being performed. This means the potential for a claim to take place is high and the potential severity of that claim is also extremely high. Meaning the possibility of the claim taking place is high and when the claim happens there is a good chance it would be a severe and expensive claim.

What are the types of things that will cause a claim?

Construction and contracting see a variety of claims causes that make it a little scary for an insurance company. They are unique in that they have the ability to see virtually all types of claims you would see. Slip and falls, lifting strains, repetitive motion claims are ones any basic shop operation could have. Contractors also perform work outside of their shop, so motor vehicle accidents become a concern. Falls form heights can be one of the biggest concerns that can make a huge difference for most contractors wanting to get out of the state fund and with a competitive market carrier.

How can I set my firm apart from the rest?

As an Insurance Agent that specializes in hard to write workers comp, my approach when tasked with quoting a difficult scenario is to focus on the primary concern and risk. As a business owner, the first thing you want to look at is the biggest risk you have to your company which in turn will be the biggest risk to your workers comp carrier. The three biggest concerns being falls from heights, motor vehicle accidents and lifting exposures. This means any way you can limit the exposure or minimize the impact of these the better chance you have of getting quoted. Below are areas that you can look at:

As for height exposures: What is the maximum height in feet you work off ground level? The lower the number the better, but if you are doing work above ground level it is important that you know what the level is. Having a hard cut off point is important. Most importantly, how much opportunity do you have for work higher off the ground. If most of your productive work is less than 10 feet off the ground, but one small job a year is 25 or 30 feet off the ground, You may need to ask the business owner if it is worth paying more for insurance just to work this one job per year? Besides limiting operations, the business owner needs to comply with OSHA tie off requirements and they need to have strict protocols regarding work performed off ground level in their written safety program.

As for Motor vehicle accidents: Are you doing most of your construction work local or long distance? If working outside your local area, do you have multiple locations or crews based in different areas? This can sometimes be a way to limit having employees travel farther and limit your exposure. Besides limiting the travel area, check Motor Vehicle Records on all employees who will drive at time of hire and at least once per year. This is standard for most companies and your Commercial Auto Carrier is likely going to do this anyway. Reviewing and removing higher risk drivers from your driver list can help you with workers comp. Of course, it will save you money on your commercial auto policy ass well if you have one.

Prevent employees from becoming an injured worker by reading about the dangers of improper lifting at myinsurancequestion.comLifting exposures: Generally, are your employees lifting over 50lbs on their own? If so, find a different alternative to lifting like a dolly or something to assist in the lift. That can also be a mechanical hoist or a 2 wheeler to move heavy items.  It could also be requiring team lifting for objects over a certain weight. All of these strategies can limit this risk for your business. Safety programs are crucial to have in place for businesses dealing with heavy lifting. Accidents are eventually going to happen and when they do, a well-documented safety program can be the difference in being dropped for your carrier or not.

Working to improve these areas can help with many things for your construction business. Employees will see that you care for their well being, which in itself can be helpful in the quoting process. The safety protocols will help reduce your employees risk of a workplace injury and in most cases this can help the business get better, more aggressive quotes for workers comp insurance. I have seen in many states this savings can be over 50% for a carrier who has to go to the state fund vs the competitive market quotes. That’s like getting a half-off coupon for your workers comp.

Insurance For Home Health Type Businesses – W-2 – 1099 – Leasing

The home health care industry is one of the fastest growing business types in the U.S. As the American population grows and the life expectancy becomes longer the population needing health care type services at their home continues to increase. In my experience home health companies are servicing the elderly, the mental or physically disabled and people with permanent disabilities that require constant care.

There are three types of home health agencies that can have a drastically different impact on the business insurance coverages.

  1. Business that employs all as W-2 employees
  1. Business that chooses to employ all as 1099 independent contractors
  1. Placement agency that places their employees with a third party employer

The first type is the easiest model to insure for professional liability, third party crime coverage and workers compensation coverage. Being employed on a W-2 status, these are direct employees and the ownership of the business has the right to direct, control and fire.   Insurance companies prefer this set-up.   Business owners MUST make sure their third party crime bond extends coverage to the client’s home.

The second type is the most difficult to insure. For the third party crime coverage, business owners must confirm that coverage is specifically for “independent contractors”. For the workers compensation coverage there is a specific question on the application asking about “sub-contractors” and whether they are insured or uninsured. You must answer the question “Yes, the business is using sub-contractors”. If you are covering the 1099’s under your policy the business owner must also answer “Yes, the sub-contractors are uninsured”.

The third type is different from the two above because the business owner is not purchasing a policy to cover their tax id number. For a placement agency, the business owner is “leasing” their employees to a “Leasing Company” aka “Professional Employer Organization” aka “Staffing Agency”. The staffing agency is insuring under their tax id number specifically for workers compensation. If the staffing agency requires the business owner to purchase their own professional liability and third party crime coverage, the business owner must inform their insurance company and make sure coverage is acceptable.