HVAC Contractors

Heating and Air Conditioning Contractors ( HVAC Contractors ) are those business that provide services for and repair heating and air conditioning units.  They provide these services for both commercial and residential clients.  They have to be knowledgeable about both duct and vent work, the different types of fuel sources for heating equipment, which can be natural or LP gas, electric, steam, solid fuel, coal, or fuel oil.  Many contractors also install, service, and repair air conditioners. While air conditioning units are normally electric-powered, they are charged with different coolants, some of which may be hazardous.

All of these different types of work bring their own unique risks to the contractor. For this reason, it is very important for you to have an extended conversation with your insurance agent about all of the types of work you do and do not participate in.  It is equally important to inform your agent if there are certain types of work you do not partake in. There are more than one classification code for this industry and the types of risks you take on can dramatically impact what you pay in premium for a number of commercial insurance policies.  Below are 6 policies most HVAC Contractors need to secure in order to protect their business properly.

•   General Liability

•   Property Insurance

•   Hired and Non-Owned Auto (full commercial auto if vehicles owned)

•   Inland Marine

•   Business Income with Extra Expense

•   Workers’ Compensation

General Liability Insurance

General Liability Exposures at the contractor’s office or shop are generally limited due to lack of public access to the premises. Retail sales increase the possibility of customers slipping, falling, or tripping if customers visit office to view products.

Property Insurance

Property exposures at the heating contractor’s own location are generally limited to those of an office, shop, and storage of materials, equipment, and vehicles. Operations may also include retail sales. The fire exposure is generally light unless repair operations involving welding take place on premises. Welding involves the use of tanks of gases that must be stored and handled properly to avoid loss. The absence of basic controls such as chained storage in a cool area and the separation of welding from other operations may reflect a greater risk.

Commercial Auto

Automobile exposures are generally limited to transporting workers, equipment and supplies to and from job sites for HVAC Contractors. Hazards depend on the type and use of vehicles and radius of operation with the main hazards being upsets. Vehicles may have special modifications or built-in equipment such as lifts and hoists. Large heating systems may be awkward and require special handling and tie-down procedures. Age, training, experience, and drivers’ records, as well as the age, condition and maintenance of the vehicles are all important items to consider. If employees utilize their own personal vehicles for work related tasks then Hired and Non-Owned Coverage should be purchased.

Inland Marine Coverage

Inland marine exposures include contractors’ tools and equipment, including ladders and scaffolding, hoists, and portable welders, the transport of materials, and installation floater. Goods in transit consists of tools and equipment as well as products purchased by the customer for installation at the job site. HVAC units can be of high value and susceptible to damage in transit; they frequently require expertise in loading to prevent load shift or overturn.

Workers’ compensation

Workers compensation exposures vary based on the size and nature of the job. Both residential and commercial work involves lifting, work with hand tools, wiring, and piping. Cuts from the fabrication and installation of sheet metal for ducts and vents are common. Lifting injuries such as hernias, strains and sprains plus back injuries may occur. Electrical burns are common; electrocution can occur from the use of high-voltage lines. Any time work is done above ground, injury or death from falls and being struck by falling objects can occur. Slips and falls, foreign object in eyes, major and minor burns, and inhalation of fumes are all potential hazards.

Garage Liability vs. Garagekeepers

The difference between Garage Liability Insurance Coverage and Garage Keepers Coverage is the difference between Liability Insurance and Physical Damage Insurance. The first covers the insured’s liability for operations and autos. The second covers damage to a customer’s vehicle. All businesses with garage risks need both coverages to properly insure their loss exposures.

Auto Repair Shops: Garage Liability Vs. Garage Keepers Coverage

A typical garage business has an auto exposure, both owned, non-owned and hired. These businesses also have risks related to premises/operations, contractual and products/completed operations exposures. Rather than writing two separate policies, the Garage Policy allows a business to combine the coverages into one all encompassing Insurance Policy. A Garage Policy is a combination Business Auto Coverage form and a Commercial General Liability Coverage form. Garage liability insurance is an absolute necessity for the owner of a car dealership, a local mechanic, a tire dealer or a company doing oil changes. These policies are for employers who make a living working on cars. These programs can also apply to companies installing stereos or satellite radios. Business owners should not make the mistake of believing Garage Liability Insurance covers the loss of a customer’s auto while in your care. A separate Garage Keeper’s Policy or an addendum to the garage (service center) policy already in place must be added. Under the Garage Keeper’s Coverage, there are two options for the auto service operator to consider. One is called direct excess coverage. This policy pays up to the value of the destroyed vehicle above the owner’s coverage. The other type of coverage is direct primary coverage, where the service owner’s carrier shares the loss with the car owner’s insurer.

Gold Colored Cylinders in a Car Engine.

If you own or operate a business that has a repair center and the repair center has a fleet of tow trucks or dispatched repair vehicles, those assets are covered under Garage Liability Insurance. However, if the customer car is sitting outside waiting for service, or inside on a lift, they are not covered.  This is the reason why you need a keeper clause for the protection of your business. Please note that most Garagekeeper’s Policies excludes loss to non-factory installed sound equipment.

Garage Liability Insurance providers may become extremely discriminatory regarding the requirements for getting the insurance, such as strict loss prevention or risk management efforts by the auto service owner. To cut costs and keep premiums lower, indemnity companies are often refusing to underwrite such things as wind and hail damage for company and customer vehicles. Tolerance by insurers for multiple incidents at a garage is limited. These are things a business owner should keep in mind when purchasing insurance. Partnering with an experienced independent insurance agent is the best way to determine how your business should best proceed when purchasing this type of insurance coverage.

Make sure every employee and officer of the company is on the policy. Coverage is usually only afforded to the locations and drivers listed on the coverage. Employees that get a DUI or go over their point allowances may be excluded from driving privileges and non-company drivers need to be discussed with the agent.

Getting and keeping garage liability insurance can be daunting. Proper night lighting, well landscaped grounds, well maintained signage and windows as well as a freshly painted exterior as well as clean floors and bathrooms inside can make or break a policy being approved.

 

 

5 Myths about Commercial Auto Insurance.

Commercial Auto Insurance can be a tricky coverage for many business owners. Many think it is just like their personal auto coverage and many think it is an all encompassing policy, meaning if something happens to my business car I am covered. Right? That would be wrong and here are five examples of incorrect assumptions, many business owners make regarding their commercial auto Policy.

All of My Employees Are Covered While Driving Company Vehicles

It depends on the policy and the carrier. Some policies require you to name drivers. In some cases companies will exclude some of your employees because of their driving record. Most all carriers have an option to include all drivers. Like in all situations, it is best to consult with your agent about the limits and exclusions to your policy. That way you can be crystal clear what is and is not covered under your particular commercial auto insurance policy.

I Can Cancel My Policy During the Off Season to Save Money

You can choose to cancel your policy in the off-season if your business is seasonal. It can save your business some money on premium if you are able to store your vehicle indoors and in a secure place. If you are planning on doing this you need to be aware that the vehicles are still at risk. If there is damaged you are liable for the repairs. This damage can come from via natural causes like wind and hail damage. Damage can also come from things like vandalism or theft. If you experience any of these problems while not covered you or your business will be responsible for damages.

The Entire Premium is Due Up Front

Most companies allow commercial policies to be paid in monthly installments. Most refer to these policies as Pay as You Go.  If you have the ability to pay the full years amount up-front, many carriers do offer a discount for doing so.

Bundling is Always Cheaper

In many cases this is the case, but it is always a good idea to shop your policy around just in case. Some carriers specialize in certain coverages and some carriers change their appetite for certain industries and types of coverages. This means that if your carriers has recently taken a loss in one industry or in one type of coverage, they may not be as excited about quoting your policy. This may cause them to offer a higher rate for this one policy or for your industry. For this reason, it is important to partner with an agency who has partnerships with many carriers and can quote your policies as a bundle and individually.

If you are self employed you don’t need Commercial Auto Insurance

I drive a company car, so I don’t need my own auto insurance.
The car may be covered, but you may not. Even if your employer has coverage that provides some liability protection, it may not be enough, or you could be sued personally in a bad accident. Also if you borrow or rent a car, you should have your own protection. Being listed on another auto policy isn’t enough to protect you because business use is different. You need to purchase special protection.