HOW TO AVOID THE 7 DEADLY SINS OF BUYING GENERAL LIABLITY INSURANCE

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1 HOW TO AVOID THE 7 DEADLY SINS OF BUYING GENERAL LIABLITY INSURANCE By Jim Wiggins The reader assumes all responsibilities for his/her own actions in regards to any items discussed in this report. Adherence to all applicable laws and regulations governing the use of any product or service described in this report in Canada or any other jurisdiction is the sole responsibility of the reader. The publisher and author assume no responsibility or liability whatsoever on behalf of the reader of these materials. The reader is encouraged to consult directly with his/her insurance professional

2 Inside This Special Report. HOW TO AVOID THE 7 DEADLY SINS WHEN BUYING GENERAL LIABILITY INSURANCE!! And how you as a Contractor can finally get the peace of mind you work so hard for! By Bob Bullock This report was put together at the request of my clients. I have been talking about the 7 Deadly Sins for years. Ten years ago, this report would not have been necessary, but times have changed. Ten years ago you could bid a job, complete the job and move on to the next job. Lawsuits happened just to the next guy. Insurance policies were simple and life was wonderful.. General liability insurance has changed drastically in the last ten years and now there are traps not intentional traps, but changes in the industry that you have to keep abreast of. This brings us to the 7 Deadly Sins..

3 Choosing The Wrong Agent or Broker As strange as this may seem, your biggest problem might be your current insurance provider. I am sure they are trying to do a good job, but if that person does not handle construction insurance on a day-to-day basis they could be out of touch with a marketplace that is changing day to day. Keeping up with the construction Industry is a full time job. If your agent is not an Independent Broker they may not have the tools available to do a good job. Non-independent agents must represent one company only. They may not represent the best company for your business. Your broker should be able to handle all of your insurance needs. You will then maximize all possible discounts and reduce potential coverage gaps. You will also save the asset that is most valuable to you YOUR TIME!!

4 Subcontractors This one is potentially a killer Many companies go out of business on this subject alone. It s usually your best friend or someone you were just trying to help out. When you hire a subcontractor to do work for you, they must carry General Liability insurance and they must have the same or higher limits of liability as you do. For example, if you have a General Liability insurance policy with a $1,000,000 limit the subcontractor that you hired must also have the same or more. What happens if your sub does not carry general liability? The problem arises when your general liability company will charge you more for liability insurance if your subs are not insured. I can hear you now It s not fair. fair or not Let s look at the insurance company s side on this subject. If there is a problem on the job, whom is the customer going to sue? He is going to sue the subcontractor and the General Contractor. The insurance company has no recourse against the subcontractor and must defend the entire lawsuit, while the subcontractor walks away. Now, I do not expect you to have sympathy for an insurance company, but now you know how it works. But the costs to you do not stop at the price of your insurance. The WSIB may rule you have an employee and not a sub-contractor. If that is the case you may be responsible for workers compensation payments, back payroll taxes, along with penalties etc. Not to mention fines and a potential lawsuit. Now you know why I call it the best friend or the someone you were trying to help out killer. You feel sorry for them and you pay the price.

5 INSURANCE COMPANY RATING Insurance Companies are given a grade; just think about the grades you received in high school or college. A,B,C,D,F. Insurance companies are given a financial report card by the A.M. Best Company and Standard & Poor s. An Insurance company with less than a B rating can be a potential problem for two reasons, 1. There is a risk of the company going out of business and 2. If you work for the province, region or city, they will usually not accept any company less than a B rating. Also if you hire on as a subcontractor most general contractors will not accept any rating less than a B. With some government offices and general contractors not accepting your liability insurance, you will be limited to the type of jobs you can accept. If you do not know your Company Rating feel free to call my office at any time, we will be glad to look it up for you.

6 EXCLUSIONS First off let s get one thing clear All policies have exclusions. You hear terms like all risk, special form, comprehensive, full coverage. Those phrases do not mean there are no exclusions. In a contractors general liability policy all the exclusions are listed on the (Dec) front page of the policy or on the second page of the policy. The problem is that they are usually listed by form number, not by name. In order to make sure you understand the exclusions, look at the form numbers on the front page and go find that form (by number) in the policy. (Usually the form number is in the bottom left hand corner) If you see a form number on the front of the policy but you cannot find that form in the policy, your policy is not complete! Someone forgot to add that form to the policy when the policy was put together. People make mistakes! If you find a form number on the front of the policy and cannot find that form in the policy Call your insurance representative and ask them for the missing page(s). It may be a very important exclusion. The exclusions are critical, when you get a proposal for insurance the first thing you should look at are the exclusions. For instance, if you are a concrete contractor and you do house pads, if you have an exclusion for foundation work in your policy you have a problem. The worse thing is you will not find out about your problem until you have a claim and it is denied, by then it s too late. Here is a list of exclusions I have found in many policies; this list is by no means "all inclusive".

7 Acceptance Certificates of Insurance what do they do and why do you need to provide them to generals, government agencies, customers, etc.? A Certificate of Insurance shows you or your company is insured. Many general contractors ask for them from subs, but never take the time to even look to see if the certificate is current. Listen, there are few key items you need to look at when you get a Certificate of Insurance or even provide one to someone else. 1. Make sure the effective date of the insurance policy is current. You would be surprised how often the term of the policy will be listed incorrectly or may be a year old. Additional Insured s: Many Certificates of Insurance show additional contract wording or endorsements attached to your policy. Additional Insured endorsements are the most common contract language added to your general liability policy. Additional Insured Endorsement when you are asking for certificates of insurance always ask to have your firm or yourself (if you are not incorporated) to be shown as an additional insured. This provides you with added protection usually at no cost to the person that is providing the certificate.

8 Not Purchasing Enough Liability Insurance Most people do not realize that the cost of buying a $2,000,000 limit is not double the cost of buying a $1,000,000 limit. It is usually a relatively smallup charge because the chance of having a claim of less than a million is far less than having a claim that is more than a $1,000,000. Most of the risk and therefore most of the cost is in that first million of coverage. For example,one of our small contractor policies the cost to go from $1,000,000 to $2,000,000 is only $150. Then you might say, Well if there is a very small chance of a claim over $1,000,000 then why pay more to the insurer? Well, imagine you are doing some plumbing working in an office building worth $5,000,000 dollars and you do some soldering work and the building catches fire that night. Presuming that you have the proper coverage, a claim of several million dollars could easily occur when you consider thedamage to the building plus the expenses and lost revenues of the occupants of the building. The insurer of the building and the tenants will all sue you for everything that they have paid out because of the fire that you caused.

9 Tell the Truth, the Whole Truth and Nothing but The Truth-Always The insurance company always wants to know what type of contracting work you are performing. They usually call that your Description of Operations. The Description of Operations or the Operations is always shown in the first few pages on the insurance policy. If it does not match what you actually do and there is a claim then the insurance company can deny the claim. The reason for the denial would be what they call. Material Mispresentation. It is not our job to guess what you do. You have to tell your Agent or Broker. If what you do changes during the term of the policy, your insurer should know about it. If you are doing something hazardous, make sure you have that your agent or broker fully understands what is going on. Having abroker who insures a lot of contractors really helps in this department. Some of our clients have websites. Sometimes people get a little carried away saying they can do things that they have never done before or are not qualified to do... We recommend that you don t do that because insurers look at the websites and they will rate you more favorably if your promotional information is consistent with what you are actually capable of doing.

10 The Insurance Protection Group Service Guarantee 1. Real live people will get back to you on the same day as you call. Our hours are 8:30 to 4:30 daily. We even answer the phone during lunchtime! 2. TOLL FREE phone number Certificates of Insurance requests processed the same day. 3. Licensed Brokers who specialize in contractor s insurance. 4. Certificates of Insurance requests processed the same day. 5. stop shopping for contractors. We handle Auto, Equipment, Property, Bonding, Course of Construction, Umbrellas, Employee Health & Dental Insurance, Life & Disability Insurance plans. If a contractor needs it we have it. For your personal insurance needs we insure homes, cottages, boats, personal watercraft, ATV s, snowmobiles, motor homes, trailers most of everything else you can think of!! 6. Before you Sign Service. Before you sign your next contract, send us a copy of the insurance requirements in the contract. We will match up your current insurance package to the requests of the general contractor, developer or government agency and see if you have the coverage they are requesting. We always recommend that you also let your lawyer read the contract as well. We will tell you if you have what they want or if they are requesting insurance you do not have. If you do not have what is requested we can quickly tell you what the additional cost will be before you sign the contract. If you need to buy additional insurance to satisfy the contract you can make sure it is in your bid. The reader assumes all responsibilities for his/her own actions in regards to any items discussed in this report. Adherence to all applicable laws and regulations governing the use of any product or service described in this report in Canada or any other jurisdiction is the

11 NEED A QUICK QUOTE? Just fill in the form below and fax it to to us or call us toll free for a quote over the phone. First Name Last Name Business Name Phone Number Fax Number Address Town or City Postal Code Your Postal Code Type of Construction Total Gross Annual $ Receipts Total Annual Sub Costs $ # of years of experience-if you business is new then the # of years of experience in your trade Are you Currently Insured? If Yes, Who is your current Company? Please provide a brief description of your operations and type of work that you perform General Liability Quick Quote FAX TO OR JUST CALL TOLL FREE FOR A QUOTE!

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