How Does a Workers’ Comp Waiver of Subrogation Affect Your Business?

It is very common for the insurance requirements in a construction contract to include a provision requiring the subcontractor to waive all rights against the owner and general contractor for recovery of damages to the extent these damages are covered by the sub’s workers’ compensation and general liability or commercial umbrella liability insurance. Owners and general contractors insist on this provision because they want to protect themselves from being held liable for injuries to a subcontractor’s employee. Typically, the contractor giving the waiver asks its insurance company to attach a “waiver of subrogation endorsement” to its workers’ compensation policy.

The endorsement states that the insurance will company will not enforce its right to recover payments it makes to an injured worker from the person or organization listed on the endorsement. It applies only to the extent that the employer insured by the policy performs work under a written contract requiring the employer to obtain the insurance company’s waiver. It does not directly or indirectly benefit anyone not listed on the endorsement. With this endorsement on the policy, the company cannot attempt to recover payments it made to an injured worker from the company listed on the endorsement, even if that company was responsible for the injury. Consequently, the loss impacts the employer’s experience modification, probably increasing future premiums. In addition, the endorsement carries an additional premium for the employer, normally some percentage of the premium attributable to the job.

The endorsement and the waiver agreement in the contract do not bind the injured employee. He still has the ability to sue the owner and general contractor for his injuries. However, it is also common for construction contracts to require the subcontractor to defend and indemnify the owner and general contractor from any such suits. Therefore, it is probable that the employer will have to pay an additional premium for the endorsement, pay higher future workers’ compensation premiums for the loss, and pay higher future liability insurance premiums because its policy will cover the other parties’ liability.

For example, assume the sub’s employee suffers serious injuries when tools and materials fall off a scaffold and strike him. He collects workers’ compensation benefits for his medical costs and lost wages. The sub’s workers’ compensation policy includes the waiver of subrogation endorsement, so the insurance company cannot recover any of its payments. The worker sues the owner and general contractor for his pain and suffering. However, the contract requires the sub to cover the owner’s and general’s liability, so the sub’s liability insurance pays for the pain and suffering lawsuit. The sub’s insurance pays twice for the same injury to the same worker.

Owners and general contractors require waivers of subrogation for several reasons. Insurance consultants, brokers, and risk managers usually encourage them to require waivers. Waivers protect their liability insurance and reserve it for other claims. Because a waiver reduces potential liability losses, they become more attractive to liability insurance companies and probably pay lower premiums. Also, subcontractors often do not resist these requirements because they feel they lack negotiating leverage and their insurance companies are usually willing to provide the endorsement.

A few states have curbed the use of waivers of subrogation in their workers’ compensation systems. At least four states have passed laws making the requirements unenforceable, and other states allow the employer to recover from the injured employee some of the proceeds of pain and suffering lawsuits.

In the majority of states that allow waivers, contractors should work with professional insurance agents experienced in providing construction insurance. They can suggest insurance companies that will offer the needed coverages at a reasonable cost and assist with contractual issues such as waivers of subrogation. Above all, contractors must read and understand their contracts so that their agreements do not become an ugly surprise after a loss.

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

BGES Group, located in Larchmont, N.Y. are New York Construction Insurance Specialists that represent 50+ companies and all the BEST general & umbrella liability programs!  We offer every coverage you need including property, builders risk, inland marine, general liability, umbrella liability, auto, bid & performance bonds, workers compensation insurance, N.Y.S. disability and group health.  We are extremely responsive, responsible, trustworthy, fast, minimize your insurance headaches, we don’t charge ridiculous policy or service fees and when you call, text or email, whatever time of day, even weekends, we are ARE THERE to help YOU!

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

In addition, we offer all personal insurance coverages including home, auto, boat, jewelry, fine arts, life, disability, health and long-term care.  When was the last time you got a complete check up for all your coverage needs?   We are extremely caring and would love the chance to help you with your personal insurance needs.

BGES Group is an insurance agency whose owner is very responsible, responsive, offers boutique, very personal service and is ALWAYS there when you need him most!

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If you would like to speak with us call Gary Wallach at 914-806-5853 or 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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