Get the Right Insurance when You Hire Contractors

A real estate firm on the third floor of an office building hired a janitorial service to clean over a weekend. The service completed its work by late Saturday afternoon. However, one of its employees left water running in the employee break room after rinsing off some rags, which he also left in the sink. The rags plugged the sink drain. Over the next 36 hours, the sink overflowed, the room flooded, and water seeped into the law office downstairs. The water ruined several desktop computers, left marks on leather chairs, streaked the walls, and soaked a six month old carpet. The law firm submitted a bill for several thousand dollars in damages to the real estate firm. Because the real estate firm is legally liable for the actions of contractors it hires, it was liable for the damage to the law firm’s property.

This is the sort of accident for which companies buy liability insurance. There are multiple ways to insure the exposure to loss from actions of contractors; each company should investigate alternatives and choose those most appropriate for its situation.

Every business should carry its own general liability insurance policy. The standard policy will cover damages caused by contractors. While relying on its own insurance gives the business a certain amount of control (especially over timely payment of premiums,) there are disadvantages to using only this approach. Some policies may contain endorsements that reduce or eliminate this coverage, so business owners should review their policies carefully. Even if the policy does provide this coverage, a few large losses caused by contractors could use up the business’s insurance limits. Also, the insurance company will count the contractors’ losses when it calculates the business’s experience modification, resulting in higher future premiums.

The business may want to include an indemnification agreement (also known as a “hold harmless agreement”) in its contract for the work. This will require the contractor to assume liability for losses resulting from its work. If the contractor has insurance or other financial resources to pay for the loss, this is a good approach. The standard policy covers liability assumed under what it defines as an “insured contract.” However, some policies may carry endorsements that eliminate coverage for liability assumed under a contract. Also, if the business has to sue the contractor to enforce the agreement, the damaged third party will have to tolerate lengthy delays before it receives payment. Finally, unless the business meets very specific conditions, the contractor’s policy will not cover its defense costs.

Another approach is to require the contractor to name the business as an additional insured on its policy. This will provide the business with coverage for both the damages and defense costs. However, the business will share the contractor’s insurance limits with all the other additional insureds named on the policy; the amount of insurance available may be inadequate. The business’s insurance might or might not have to share in the loss, depending on the terms of both policies. Also, as with the hold harmless agreement approach, the business must hope that the contractor keeps its insurance in force.

Finally, the business could require the contractor to buy an Owners and Contractors Protective Liability policy. Issued in the name of the business (not the contractor,) this policy will give the business its own primary limits of insurance for the project, advance notice of cancellation, and keeps the losses out of the business’s loss experience. It does not provide coverage for completed operations; the business may still need additional insured coverage for that.

Every business hires contractors from time to time. Planning ahead can ensure that the business has adequate protection should an accident occur.

BGES Group is one of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut’s Construction Insurance Specialists representing 50+ companies, including all the BEST general & umbrella liability programs. We offer all the coverage needed, including property, builders’ risk, inland marine, general liability, umbrella liability, auto, bid & performance bonds, workers’ compensation, N.Y.S. disability, and group health.  Our commitment to you goes beyond the policies we provide. We are always just a call, text, or email away, ready to assist you, even on weekends. We understand the importance of your business and are here to help you navigate any insurance challenges.

BGES Group are Workers’ Compensation Insurance Specialists for Tri-State Business Owners: Unhappy with your rates, company, being canceled, losses causing difficulty getting coverage, in the middle of an audit dispute, misclassified payrolls, or whatever your issue. We can help!  We have special programs for Auto Services, Contractors (especially in New York), Limousine Services, Logistics Companies, Manufacturers, Recyclers, and Truckers; we can help ANY tri-state business owner.  We are considered “Preferred Agents” for this one program that, if we can get you into, their pricing is excellent, offers long-term coverage stability, and can cover multi-state operations. The program takes the hassle out of doing annual audits, too. 

If you would like to speak with us, call Gary Wallach at 914-806-5853, click here to email, or click here to visit our website.

Company: BGES Group, 216A Larchmont Acres West, Larchmont, NY 10538



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