How Distracted Driving can Lead to you Losing your Automobile Insurance

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month.  The Insurance Industry is heavily investing resources and time in an effort to raise awareness and educate the public on just how deadly this action can be.  Many non profit organizations and government agencies are participating as well.   The statistics on distracted driving are absolutely alarming from all accounts and have reached epidemic proportions.  According to the Claims Journal with over 40,000 deaths in the last two years and 4.57 million injuries. In contrast drunk driving is on the decline.

April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

Incredulous as it may sound texting and driving is actually more insidious than drinking and driving as it is engrained into our work and our everyday life.  Further, there is no similar social stigma associated with this behavior as there is with drinking.  New research referenced above finds distracted driving is actually more dangerous due to the inherent danger of taking your eyes off the road.  It also is the equivalent of drinking 4 beers or alcoholic drinks due to the loss of concentration and focus.  Research has also shown that texting is becoming an addictive behavior.

It appears based on new legislative activities throughout the country that laws are becoming more intensely focused on imposing stricter penalties for distracted driving because both economic and societal costs for everyone are escalating and such behavior is increasing.

When drinking and driving awareness came about efforts were spearheaded by Mothers against Drunk Drivers. MADD still focuses on drinking and driving but has assisted the movement against distracted driving through teen activities and helping to raise awareness.  New groups have formed including Focus Driver: Advocates for Cell Free Driving and Teen 365 which follows the same principals as MADD, as well as other organizations. High schools across the county try to teach youth by adding the subject to the curriculum.  New slogans and billboards with catch phrases such as “assigning a designated texter while driving” are being promoted.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Safety Council are combining forces with advocates to campaign against distracted driving due to the growth of the issue.

Many states have enacting laws against distracted driving due to the hue and cry of concerned citizens and the victims of tragic accidents caused by distracted driving.  In 2009, 19 states had enacted law prohibiting texting and driving.  Now 41 states have enacted laws with an emphasis on cell phone usage and texting.

Cell phones were actually invented 45 years ago and the first call was made in the United States on April 3, 1973. Cell phone usage has grown by leaps and bounds beyond the inventor’s imagination I am sure.  As the devices became more popular accidents increased, but usage continued to grow as the technology improved the range and signal, available battery life was enhanced, cell phone design and audio capability for music increased, and parents began to purchase cell phones for teens in order to be able to reach them wherever they were at in effort to keep their children safe.

As evidenced by the growing body of of new laws throughout the country distracted driving is no longer limited to using a cell phone for texting as many may believe.  The law in the State of Washington specifically includes

  • eating while driving,
  • putting on makeup
  • or fixing your hair.

All are considered forms of distracted driving.  In essence it is any behavior that takes your eyes and your attention off the road.  States are also banning the singular act  of having your cell phone on while you are driving. Rhode Island is in the process of enacting laws which requires absolute hands free driving.

Even though it has been suggested public policy reasons do not allow insurers to just refuse to pay for injuries inflicted ty distracted drivers as innocent victim would be harmed and even more lives would be disrupted. So insurers have concentrated efforts to stop distracted driving through many avenues.  First they have increased the consequences for the behavior similar to the manner in which drinking and driving were approached. The first step following the criminalization of the behavior by law, was for insurance carriers to cancel your insurance if you lose your license due to an accident.  Virtually no insurer will insure someone who does not have a valid license.

Next is to make it more costly to engage in the behavior. There is no civic reason why insurers can’t raise your rates sky high or opt not to cover you,  a family member or a person who has permission to drive your car who then engages in distracted driving.

Additionally insurers are seeking alternate approaches.  Insurers now have immense amounts of data to predict risks and losses based on both historical comparison information related to drinking and driving   and data on distracted driving after the invention of the cell phone. The cell phone industry also has data which is useful to carriers and lawmakers.

Insurance carrier are using the available data and technology to introduce new ways to curb distracted driving.  Research has shown texting and driving increases in the late afternoon as workers start the voyage home. See Insurance Journal…  It is also at the peak time when teens are leaving school, attending extracurricular events, going to part time employment or meeting with friend.   As a result prevention campaigns are focusing on completing your texting and cell usage before getting on the road home from work or daily activites.

There are many thoughts and ideas on how to curb distracted driving in other ways.  The Claims Journal has polled drivers and found that incentives and discounts for good driving are more persuasive than negative fines and penalties.  The Claims Journal also indicates that insurers are supporting the use of data from telematics placed in vehicles which record the actions of the driver and identifies the cause of the accident.   Cell phone distributors have smart phone technology to prevent texting while driving and or receiving calls while driving, but have routinely installed it.  That industry is giving parents options and resources to prevent teens from texting or driving and receiving phone calls. Users also have the option to obtain an app with the same features.   The drawback is the driver may need to use the cell phone for an emergency, themselves, so the consumer control of the option can be necessary.  As a result these application are not mandatory. So insurers will still need to impose actions that deter distracted driving to protect their own profit margin but more importantly to protect the public and even the driver who is breaking the law.

If you assume that you or a family member has gotten two or more tickets for distracted driving in six months, you can anticipate that your insurer   rates will most likely go up and upon getting another ticket you might be cancelled as you have become a high risk driver.  You may be also be excluded on a combined policy for other household members.  If a teen is the offender you can anticipate a very high premium. You could possibly receive a discount if the high risk driver attends a defensive driving course and it could increase your chances to remain covered. The more tickets you get in a certain time frame based on your state law, the more points you accumulate on your driver’s license. Some states allow drivers to take the course in lieu of the points.  the points normally fall off your record in 3 years in most states but if you accumulate too many points your license will be suspended.  Each state differs as to the amount of points assessed for various aspects of driving.  The amount of points depends on what action your state considers a moving violation. You can still be ticketed if you are stopped at a traffic light.   You can be ticketed in some states if you are stopped alongside the road to take a call or text, if it causes an accident.  It could be a different number of points depending on if you are texting and driving, or just talking on the cell phone. It also depends on the age of the driver.  Many state have enhanced penalties for young drivers based on that states law. Be aware that insurance carriers usually check an insured driving record upon renewal .Once you are classified as high risk you will no longer be eligible for any safe driving discounts.

Next assume you or family member causes a wreck or accident due to distracted driving. . Minor accidents usually come off of your records after 7 seven years but the penalties and fines are generally much higher if an accident occurs.   You can be cancelled by your carrier or the carrier can elect not to renew your policy.   Additionally, if you injure someone or cause the death of someone you can be charged criminally and you might end up serving a lengthy jail sentences.

So stay safe out there on the road and take every precaution you can to protect yourself and others from becoming a victim of distracted driving.

Professional Liability Insurance for Doulas and other Health Care Providers

As the health care professions evolve and grow exponentially, so does the need for professional liability for new categories of health care providers. Health care providers encompasses a broad range of medical occupations ranging from doctors to doulas and includes nurses, therapists of all sorts, specialists in certain fields of medicine, naturopaths, osteopaths, paramedics and medical care transporters to name but a few.

Professional Liability Insurance For Doulas and healthcare providers is an essential part of their insurance package.

Professional liability in the health field is also known as medical malpractice.  The premise for doulas is pretty simple.  If a patient is injured in the course of treatment by doctors, nurses, doulas, or other health care providers, he or she may have liability for errors made by the provider during the course of treatment. They also can have liability for failing to take action when they should have.  It might sound straightforward and simple but proving liability is not simple at all. A litigant has to prove a number of factors based on the medical malpractice statutes in the state which has jurisdiction over the claim.  Various states use differing methods for establishing fault and determining liability, measuring percentage of fault, calculating damages and capping monies awarded as damages. So if you are forced to defend a claim against you it can result in large legal fees and monetary damages if you are found negligent.  Thus professional liability insurance is critical for all health care providers.

Why is that the case?   Professional Liability has been around for a very long time.  The first case in America was brought in 1794, five years after President George Washington was sworn in to office. (Kaiser Family Foundation)  The cause of action was also codified in 1799 for violations of public health and tort cases for private health care errors. Originally malpractice cases were generally against doctors only, usually surgeons.

Nurses were not regulated or licensed until 1938 when the State of New York enacted the first mandatory Nurse Practices Act.  Nursing was predominately occupied by females, who were seen merely as assistants and perhaps this factor influenced the reluctance to sue a nurse. Both criminal cases and malpractice cases against nurses were rarely brought until late 1960’s and early 1970’s.   After that bringing a medical malpractice suit rapidly evolved to include suing nurses, doctors other than surgeons, e.g. anesthesiologists and radiologists, as well as health care facilities and pharmaceutical companies.

Next medical malpractice was applied to dentists, osteopaths, chiropractors,pharmacists, naturopaths and complimentary alternative medicine (CAM), clinics, surgery centers and nursing homes, nurse practitioner and physician’s assistants.  Naturopaths are regulated by the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians and are recognized in approximately 20 states. These newer categories began to be included in the legal definition of a health care provider in many state laws and the Code of Federal Regulations.  This factor helped to expand the scope of malpractice. In many cases the person being sued was an employee of a medical facility or hospital and of course the hospital or facility had vicarious liability as the employer; and better assets and insurance to cover the claims which rendered them a better target for suits. So law suits were expanded to be brought against both the hospital and the medical care providers.

Eventually, professional liability was expanded to include paramedics and other para professionals who were either independent contractors or employees of another entity but not employees of the hospital or medical facility.  Paramedics often worked for a governmental entity such as a city or a fire district and the issue of government immunity was presented to try to avoid liability. That argument failed for the most part but an action may be more procedurally difficult when government entities are involved.

During the course of history of malpractice in the U.S, the theory of liability became entrenched as negligence on the part of the medical provider at fault. Presently to win a suit. The plaintiff must show:

1.  That there is a duty of care owed by the provider to the injured party,

2.  That there was a breach of that duty in the form of a misdiagnosis, improper care or neglect, or exposure to a dirty or non-sterile environment, by the health care provider.  The breach of duty is judged by the standard of care set for that particular occupation,

3. The plaintiff must also prove causation of the injury,

4.  The amount of damages incurred both currently and in the future for medical care.

So it seems that presently any occupation connected with the medical field can be liable for negligence provided that the patient can prove the four 4 elements above.  This standards puts every health care provider in the medical field at risk. As a result, all health care providers need professional liability insurance even if they are an employee of a hospital or medical facility.   The reason for this is

Two particularly significant lifetime events highlight the need for professional liability. Those are the beginning of life/birth and end of life/death. Historically physicians were sued frequently for defects to babies’ occurring during childbirth especially cerebral palsy.  Times have changed and those types of cases are less frequent.  Research and training has made the birthing process easier. Now all types of innovations are implemented during pregnancy and birthing including The Strong Start for Mothers and Newborns Initiative and Helping Babies Breath.  Little extras such as heated blankets and water assisted birth or use of labor tubs to ease the pain of childbirth are recognized as suitable for use in the delivery. Additionally, there is a belief that childbirth should take place in as natural setting.

One very popular example of a health care provider who is not a doctor is a midwife (doulas) who presides over the birth at the home of the parents or during most of labor until the actual delivery of the baby.  Usually the birth of a child is a joyful event but even with all the medical advances many unexpected things can go wrong at a birth. Doulas and/or midwives can be sued just as doctors can for their errors or omissions during birth.

 

At the opposite end of this spectrum are midwives called death doulas or end of life coaches.  Death Doula’s functions may include providing peace and comfort through emotional and spiritual support, assistance with preparation of forms, coordinate care by various health professionals and help plan the burial and transportation after passing as well as physically caring for the dying and rendering palliative care depending on the extent of their medical training including administration of prescribed medications.

This job is inherently more risky than a birth.  The end result is that the patient is going to leave this world and there is rarely a happy ending although doulas can help ensure a peaceful and tranquil passing.  Many family members are grief stricken and one of the stages they experience is anger.  The death doula may be the person they lash out at even though the doula provided as much care and comfort as possible.  While the patient may have been mentally ready and prepared for their death, it does not necessarily mean the loved ones left behind are.

So it is readily apparent that any health care provider can be sued for negligence regardless of the merits of the claim, the wisest choice is to have professional liability if you work in any of the medical fields and render actual physical care or give medical advice to any patient. Thus virtually all all health care providers need the protection of professional liability. Even if you are an employee of a hospital or other facility you need your own insurance as the employer’s liability policy may not be large enough

 

In addition to obtaining professional liability you need to consider several issues to determine what you need in a policy.

1.  How much should your limit.  Your insurance carrier may require it be at least a certain amount. Of the hospital that you are on staff have a set amount. You should revisit the amount at times to make sure you have a high enough limit to cover liability in the jurisdiction you practice in,

2. Do you want a policy that pays any legal expenses from the policy limits or outside the limits?  Legal expense may in some cases use up the limits of the policy leaving no funds or insufficient funds to pay the damage award. Inside the limits is generally cheaper.

3.  Whether to carry occurrence based or a claims-made liability policy may differ with the circumstance.  Returning to birth as an example, the negligence may not be apparent for many years to come while at death it is finite and there are limitations usually set by state statute to determine how long a plaintiff has to bring suit after the passing of a loved one. Claims made policies only covers claims made during the policy period while occurrence based covers claims where the injury that happened during the policy period but a claims is not filed until after the policy is expired.

4.  Do you or the insurance carrier have the right to consent to settle?  You should have your agent or attorney thoroughly explain this clause in your policy and the consequence of not settling.

5.  Do you want to have an arbitration clause in your policy?  Some carriers routinely include this settlement tactic in the policy.

There is really no easy way to select coverage but an independent insurance agent or your attorney can help you ensure you have adequate coverage.

 

 

 

Beyond General Liability: Construction Industry

Insurance Dilemma’s facing the Construction Industry and Special Trades How to use the class codes to fortify your coverage.

Most industries are assigned one or more general liability class codes for insurance underwriting purposes. There are 4 commonly used  authoritative  classification guides that include: PAAS/ ISO, NAICS, SIC and NCCI. However, some industries have multiple class codes which are broken down by specific sub groups within a general type of industry. The construction industry is one such industry.

The construction industry contains separate categories for general contractors and for subcontractors who work in this complex field.   The class codes are further refined by whether the contractor works on residential property or commercial developments and are categorized by the type of construction they actually are building such as manufacturing plant, industrial building, construction, heavy construction, highway and streets; with subcategories for Bridges & Tunnels to name just a few.  Identifying and defining all of the class codes relating to the field of construction is beyond the scope of this article.  But the same process of listing each class code applies no matter which class code your building project falls under.

Businesses in the construction industry has a specific need for both general and professional liability insurance.  Under the construction industry classification codes many of the sub classifications are assigned to what is considered to be “skilled” or “special” trades.   Some trades in this group generally require licensure of the employees by the state or local area they work in, in regard to their own field as an individual worker. Sub-Contractors in the specialty trades usually need to be licensed as well, as determined by the state and local area they work in.  These trades included electricians, painters, plumbers and HVAC installers to name a few.  However, the classification codes also have categories of skilled or special subcontractors who do not necessarily have to be licensed individually in their state including but not limited to flooring, installation, trim installers and handymen. However, if they are functioning as a general contractor they generally need to be licensed.

Virtually all construction contractors, whether residential or commercial need a solid comprehensive general liability insurance policy which insures them from both claims by the public, or owner(s) of the property being built or remodeled; brought against the contractor for damages to person or property.  The general liability policy can be tailored and tweaked to meet the needs of each policy holder based on their general liability classification as a standalone policy or designed in a Business Owners or Commercial Package policy. Commercial general liability is not the stopping point in your search for the best coverage for your construction company.

General liability can be combined with other types of standard commercial policies to ensure that your company is adequately covered in any situation.  Commercial auto and business property coverage for your equipment and tools should be added.  If you have large movable equipment and specialized trucks  and heavy  machinery you need to make sure that you have coverage for those under your commercial auto or another specific endorsement.

Workers compensation is normally required in all states if you have employees unless you have the financial ability to self-insure.

General liability policies standing alone do not cover professional liability. Why you might ask?

The general classification codes for construction industries historically did not classify construction companies as rendering professional opinions or advice as they would, say for example architects, who designs buildings.  Architects would normally be advised by their insurance agent that they should have professional liability insurance because of their classification code. This is the crux of a complex issue on the horizon.  Since construction industries are not usually assigned a class code which triggers the need for professional liability insurance; some construction contractors and subs may not be aware of the need for this type of insurance.    It is important that every classification code applicable to the work your company actually performs be determined and included as a class code on your insurance policies.   If your company meets the definition contained in the NCAIS classification code for architects # 541310    which gives this description “both design and construction of buildings, highways or other structures; or in managing a construction project, or are classified as Section 23 Construction” the agent will see the term “design” and should go on to ask you whether you render any professional advice in the design aspect of your job and ask pertinent questions.

For existing policies you should closely examine your need for professional liability insurance and contact your independent agent or broker to discuss your options for selecting the appropriate professional liability policy  as either a separate policy or add onto your general liability with an endorsement, rider or separate stand-alone policy.

In the past, professional liability was only needed by the architect or the design professional responsible for the project.   In present day, general contractors’ who engage in the design aspect of a building project or manage the project need this protection and should explore what is there best option. Now that need has been widened to subcontractors.

The subcontractors who appear to be most vulnerable are concentrated in the special trades who design systems that are an integral part of the building, such as the HVAC system, the electrical system and the plumbing system. It can also include those instances where the system being installed inadvertently compromises another part of the project, e.g. the HVAC Contractor gave an opinion or advice on how to modify construction to accommodate the HVAC system and it negatively impacts the foundation.

The emerging trend according to the Institute for Risk Management suggests that professional liability will continue be a hot topic in the construction insurance industry.  IRMI further indicate that Contractors are requiring subcontractors to have professional liability and certify that they have it continuously throughout the job.

It is not inconceivable that professional liability insurance for contractors and subcontractor may be needed in a residential setting as well.  For instance assume an electrical contractor is employed to rewire a house and makes recommendations and offers opinions on all of the products to use, the type of wiring needed to meet the electrical code, where the junction box should be placed, how many outlets are recommended, what type of lighting is necessary and the list could go on and on when you consider all the myriad operating decisions made on an on-going basis during a build or remodel. These appear to be professional recommendations and the rendering of an opinion and litigation could be brought under this theory. So, it is critical that you discuss the tasks that each employee performs with your agent and fill out your application thoroughly so you can get all the insurance that you need

Another common exclusion in most all general liability policies for a business in the construction industry is defective construction or faulty workmanship exclusion

Insurers did not want to encourage bad workmanship based on public policy concerns.  However, the emphasis is shifting to protection of the public with adequate insurance coverage options being made available to the contractor. Citizen’s General is one of the few insurance carriers that now offers workmanship insurance as an add on to commercial general liability giving you coverage which is normally excluded under the primary general liability policy.

One more very important point is to review any and all exclusions contained in your primary general liability policy and discuss with your insurance agent and determine if there are any alternatives or options where you can obtain coverage for the matters that are excluded under the general liability policy, if necessary.

In addition to you may want to consider optional products such as an umbrella policy, contingent business interruption, environmental pollution and employment practices liability.  These are all very helpful for a construction company. So be prepared, use the class codes to your advantage and make sure your construction industry business has all the coverage that you need.

 

 

Snow Grooming

Making Sure your Commercial Insurance Coverage Generates Powder

Snow is a phenomenon enjoyed by children,  sports  enthusiasts, and many others but snow is essential to those industries that cater to snow sports enthusiasts.  In particular one profession stands out.  That is a snow grooming.  A snow groomer (a/k/a  a slope groomer) without a doubt needs a comprehensive commercial insurance package covering all of their heavy equipment.

So what is a snow groomer you might ask.  Wikipedia defines it as “a process of manipulating snow for recreational uses with a tractor, snowmobile, caterpillar, truck or snowcat towing specialized equipment. A snow groomer is usually employed to pack snow and improve skiing and snowboarding and snowmobile trail conditions.”

How did snow grooming get started?  According to the International Skiing Association the first snow grooming machine was an agricultural roller used at Mt. Cranmore to pack the snow followed by scarifying using chains and caulks to create a powder like base to ski on.  Steve Bradley, Manager of Winter Park, further refined snow grooming by working with Ed Taylor, the former chairman of the National Ski Patrol.

Presently snow grooming is generally performed using a snow groomer machine or a snowcat with a tiller and other attachments.  A winch cat is often used when the grooming takes place at a precarious location such as steep terrain.  The winch is used to stabilize the equipment.  This machinery is very heavy, enormous in size and expensive to purchase and maintain. Many models come with specialized navigation systems. A snow blower may also be used to even out the accumulation of snow in certain areas.

Snow grooming machines, hard at work on the side of a mountain.

Image Accreditation: Pixabay Creative Commons 2.O not required

Of course you cannot groom snow if there is no snow so making artificial snow falls to this occupation at times.

Snow groomer’s range from in house professionals at exclusive ski resorts worldwide to volunteers with a Trail Association. Trail grooming for snowmobiles usually falls under the purview of the Recreation Trails Program administered by the US Department of Transportation which generally follows the Guideline for Snowmobile Trail Groomer Operator Training– a Resource Guide for Trail Grooming Managers and Equipment Operators. Snow cat operator are required to take a course and become certified under OSHA standards.  This blog will focus on snow grooming  by snow cat operators for ski areas rather than snowmobile trails.

Snow groomers for ski resorts that offer a wide array of snow sports generally operate in 3 different ways:

1. Many ski resorts rely on their in house employee snow operators and supply their own equipment,or

2.  Resorts contract with snow grooming contractors who provide their own staff and equipment.  If so, the contract generally specifies the type of equipment to be used by the contractor.  As a result the contractor has a substantial investment in equipment alone including purchase cost, repairs, maintenance, and insurance, or

3. Resorts contract with a snow groomer where the snow contractor supplies only labor, fuel, and routine maintenance on the equipment which is owned by the ski resort, or the contractor may alternately be leasing the equipment from the ski resort.

Groomers may also contract to remove the snow from parking lots and pedestrian walkways at the resort common areas where no sports take place. They may need additional equipment in addition to grooming equipment such as a snow blower, snow melter, snow sweeper and snow shovel.

 Which type of contract you are operating under is essential to determine your insurance needs

If you are employed by a ski resort or lodge you are covered by their insurance. However, if you are an independent snow grooming company, you will need these types of insurance at a minimum:  commercial general liability, workers compensation for employees, commercial auto and commercial property.  The best option may be purchase a commercial package designed specifically for your company rather than a BOP which is for small to medium businesses.   You may need an endorsement or rider for your commercial property which covers the specialized snow grooming  and removal equipment, if you provide the equipment, and marine inland particularly if you transport the equipment on a regular basis to perform snow grooming at different locales.

If you have employees you need to be sure they have basic safety training which satisfies OSHA regulations. and that they have the level of experience necessary to perform that particular grooming activity.  You need to pay particular attention to safety of your workers and anticipate possible weather conditions that can cause injuries to workers and be proactive in establishing a safety plan and demand strict compliance with the plan.  See the OSHA Fact Sheets for guidance on dealing with extreme winter conditions.

Another consideration must be factored in if you operate at night to perform grooming after the slopes are closed. You may need large movable lighting sources and generators.  These also need to be specifically covered under the property coverage in your policy.

Due to the serious nature of injuries incurred when a person encounters snow grooming equipment many cases have found liability against a ski resort as the owner of the equipment being operated by an employee on the basis that the grooming  itself is unreasonably dangerous.  If you own your  own equipment and perform snow grooming under a contract you should consider purchasing excess liability and umbrella insurance. Two of the largest verdicts were for 8.3 million dollars and 11 million dollars.

Whether professional liability is required is a complex issue for all professions.  For snow groomers it is somewhat of quandary.  If you work for a ski resort as an employee than their insurance covers you but if you are operating your own company that is not the case.  In the past snow groomers did not necessarily  have  Errors and Omissions policies.  This  is an issue which is ripe for litigation.   You are in essence designing, packing and moving the snow to prepare areas for people to safely use for skiing, snowboarding,  slalom and operating snowmobiles. The courts have found this to be unreasonably dangerous activity when undertaken by a ski resort.  It stands to reason that if you perform this task it is still dangerous.  You are acting in the capacity of both a contractor and in a similar fashion to an architect or designer. Both the ski resort and the public  rely on your assessment of the safety and condition of the ski slopes. So  if you do make a mistake than an Errors and Omissions a/k/a Professional Liability policy can help cover  litigation expense and ensure the safety of your assets.

If your are also removing snow you need to keep abreast of all developments and regulations  regarding chemicals used and should have an environmental pollution policy.

While snow grooming is a very complex operation to run smoothly the joy one may experience while working in a frosty serene setting lighted by the moon and the stars is a pleasure most jobs don’t have at their work site.  Nor can you experience the beauty of looking out over the spectacular sight of freshly groomed fields of corduroy that you just molded in any other profession and have a feeling of accomplishment that goes with it.

 

5 Ways Insurance Needs are Changing for the Snow Removal Professional

2018 has already been a record year for snowfall throughout many parts of the United States and we are not through with winter yet. The ground hog has predicted 6 more weeks of winter. As a result, weather has caused a huge demand for snow removal generating a greater need for protection for the people doing this work. Snow plowing, just as many other industries, is in the midst of a technology revolution that is changing the business and how it is performed. And, those new methods are changing the nature of liability for snow plowers and others working in this industry.

snow removal

Image Attribution:  Pixabay CCO Creative Commons, Free for commercial Use

In the early years of the 20th Century, after the automobile were first mass produced, snow plowing was fairly straightforward. Individuals and companies attached a snow plow or shovel to their truck, or tractor, and went forth to do battle with the snow by either pushing it off the lot or street, or hauling it away to a vacant area where it could be left to melt.
Many snow removers did so on a part time basis or as seasonal work and continue to do so. However, the snow removal industry has evolved into big business due to changing transportation needs for roadways, airports, railroads, monorails, and truck and bus terminals. The military also had need for snow removers and innovations developed for the military found their way into commercial use. Regardless of whether you are a small business or a huge contractor, changes have and continue to come about which impact your insurance needs if you are in the snow removal business.

Your state will, in most cases, require that you obtain a CDL license and a business license to perform snow removal. You will need general commercial general liability insurance for those inevitable slip and fall instances where you may have liability. Your class codes on your commercial general liability insurance needs to reflect snow plowing even if you only perform this activity on a seasonal or part time basis.

You may also need to add an endorsements to your CGL for completed operations to cover accidental slips and fall on premises where you have completed the process of removing the snow and ice. You will also need to make sure your commercial auto policy reflects you are in the snow removal business. If you have employees you will need workers compensation. If the employees drive their own vehicles you will need non-owned commercial auto.
Other insurance should be considered based on the following factors:

1. New equipment has been designed and built for snow removal for specific industries ranging from simple walk behind snow blowers to massive high powered heavy duty equipment and vehicles.

Equipment now encompasses, snow blowers, dump trucks chassis with modifications, snow cats, snow rollers, de-icers, front end loaders, gritters, Snowgers (a type of auger used for removing snow under semi-trucks and busses) snow melters, plows and sweepers.
In the past an individual could use a personal truck and rely on their personal auto insurance coverage. Now your insurance can be voided if you do not reveal your using your personal truck for business and have commercial auto coverage or have a separate commercial auto policy specifically for snow plowing and/ or commercial equipment coverage. Businesses should have a separate commercial auto policy covering all their road worthy vehicles. Commercial equipment should be covered under your business property insurance with endorsements, riders or a specific policy for that item as well as marine inland insurance for those items which must be transported to a work site. If equipment or machinery is rented you need to have an endorsement or a floater covering those items.

2. New chemicals such as sodium chloride, magnesium chloride and calcium chloride are now used in the process of deicing and anti-icing which have environmental implications.

Many regulations are in place which prohibit snow removal residue from being dumped near to, or in a waterway. This means that a snow remover could be sued for environmental pollution of nearby waterways that become polluted thus necessitating that snow remover’s carry environmental pollution polices as this is an exclusion to a commercial general liability policy. Waterways have gotten a lot of attention but little research has been done regarding pollution of soil where snow is discarded and this may end up being an area ripe for pollution and litigation as well. While snow melting with various methods may not be as cost effective it may prove to be a better option in the long run.
Additionally, scientific research has shown that even older substances like road salt can disrupt circadian rhythms and destroy nearby aquatic ecosystems as well as raise the risk of many diseases. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/can-road-salt-and-other-pollutants-disrupt-our-circadian-rhythms/
Gritting used to be a common practice on roads but is used less frequently due to environmental concerns and rusting of roadway infrastructure such as bridges. It is still used in clearing airports and runaways and sometimes in extreme temperature. This product could also lead to damages to cars and other vehicles from rusting if snow debris is pushed next to the car in lots or it is sprayed with a snow blower leading to a property damage claim. Salt water brine is sometimes used which is collected from conventional oil wells. It is thought that filtering the brine to a level comparable to safe drinking water with the exception of the salts in the water is safe; but the issue has not been adequately researched to be an established fact. Additionally, residue from other matter on the ground is swept up along with the snow and dumped which can cause pollution on its own.

As an additional precautionary note here, is that the Guidelines for the Selection of Snow and Ice Control Materials Section 3.10 prepared by Levelton Consultants, Ltd. for the National Cooperative Highway Research Program suggest that chemicals for deicing may be hazardous while in storage and during use and have a variety of toxicity attributes set out therein in Table 3-13 which may affect human health through ingestion, inhalation and dermal contract depending on the dosage and the particular concentration of the mixture in use. Litigation in environmental pollution is growing in all construction related industries and this may be one of the next targeted areas in pollution litigation.

3. New regulations are effecting liability issues as well.

The EPA has issued guidelines regarding collecting run off water from snow at airports, roadways and major establishments. Many states have issued guidelines as well. https://stormwater.pca.state.mn.us/index.php/environmental_impacts_of_road_salt_and_other_deicing_chemicals Deciding which chemical to use in the deicing process often depends on cost and environmental impact. Chloride ions in chemicals seem to be the major factor in deicing issues effecting waterways. Ethylene Glycol is also used in deicing airport runways. It is also being researched in regard to human toxicity from inhalation and dermal contact. Salt water brine from conventional well drilling is also being researched as an environmental hazard as it is used as a deicers. See ACRP Fact Sheet: Deicing Practices.

4. New Accreditation and Training.

As noted, most states in America require that snow removal operators have a commercial driver’s license and a business license. Although special education is not required it is available and snow removers can receive training accreditation through the Accredited Snow Contractors Association (ASCA) or the Snow and Ice Management Association (SIMA) and completion of an independent audit. To earn the designation you must comply with Industry Standards which are internationally accepted. When accredited you will have an ISO 9001 Certification SN 9001. Both of these entities proactively support the snow removal industry. Snowmagazineonline is also dedicated to this industry.
In a lawsuit, accreditation can be used in your defense to shore up credibility and adherence to professional standards. Some insurers may discount your rates when you are accredited.

5. New Safety Requirements for Employees Criteria

If you have employees you are required to carry workers compensation in most all states. But there are other considerations in regard to employee health. See the tips for Winter Storm: Plan Equip Train, US with suggestions for employees exposed to severe weather. https://www.osha.gov/dts/weather/winter_weather/hazards_precautions.html. Employers have a duty of care to employers and can be investigated and fined for workplace injuries and accidents.
If you are removing snow from buildings/ roofs fall hazards must be addressed specifically as well as slip and falls on the ice or snow on the ground. Training should be given on use of dangerous equipment and supervision of new or untrained employees. Particular attention should be paid to the snow load on any job and necessary precautions. A well designed training and safety plan can save you money on your worker’s compensation premiums.
You may also want to consider options that can protect your bottom line such as Income Stabilization coverage in the event of a mild winter in some areas or data entry and technology insurance to protect your records.
Finally, recent Legislation in Illinois and other states has been enacted seeking to limit snow contractor’s liability unless prefaced on their direct actions and fault. States vary as to whether they hold snow contractors directly liable for 3rd party injuries. This should result in less litigation but more efforts will be made to show the contractor’s action or omission as the cause of an injury in order to place liability on the contractor rather than the owner or landlord of the property in law suits that are filed.

All of these changes may mean that you need to reexamine your insurance needs, talk with your insurance agent or broker and obtain advice regarding your liability in the state you work in.

Travel Insurance needs and more for the 2018 Olympic Games

This year marks the XXIII Winter Olympic Games which is set in Pyeongchang,  South Korea, in a picturesque setting in the Taebaek Mountains. The Taebaekan National Park is home to the enchanting and ethereal Snow Festival which coincides with the Olympic Games this year. If you are attending the Olympics or just planning a trip, travel insurance may be perfect fit for you.

If you are travelling to the Olympics in South Korea, it is a good idea to purchase travel insurance for you and your family.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com via:   https://cdn.pixabay.com/photo/2016/11/04/13/52/south-korea-1797828_960-720.jpg

Different types of travel insurance protects you for many things and you need to be aware of the different types and the nuances of coverage for each type. Travel insurance can cover, accidents, illness, and medical emergencies, missed flights, and canceled tours, lost luggage, theft, terrorism, travel company bankruptcies, emergency evacuations and transporting your body home in the event of death depending on a number of factors.    See:  http://Travel Insurance Tips by Rick Steves’ Europe

But there are precautions you need to take before you purchase any certain policy. First of all you have a duty to read any insurance policy and it is in your best interest to thoroughly understand it and ask pointed questions about wording that you don’t understand or that is vague.  You want to be sure that you have comprehensive insurance which cover all possibilities; or if you choose a policy with exclusions, you buy supplements to cover the exclusions or have other options for anticipated occurrences or they are not applicable. For instance, if you don’t intend to participate in sports you don’t need sports coverage.

Trip cancellation and trip interruption are some of the primary reasons for buying travel insurance.  Unfortunately life happens and in many instances if you or one of your party have to cancel it is generally covered.  That may not be the case if the airline goes bankrupt or out of business. This is not standard coverage according to the Daily Mail.

Actually, in this instance you need either Scheduled Airline Failure Insurance or End Supplier Failure insurance which covers you in the event any provider or service you are using, e.g. a hotel, goes out of business or bankrupt.

Another issue can arise if your relying on your health insurance to cover your medical expense for any illness you might experience while traveling so do not take this issue for granted.   Your own health insurance may provide some coverage while out of the county but Medicare generally does not. If that is the case then your Medicare supplement will not usually  cover any expenses but if you have a Medigap policy instead it could.  Your insurance carrier may require pre-notification and authorization before you travel out of the country. Be sure to check with your travel or insurance agent to see if you need a specific travel health plan and what it covers.

Even if you do have cover you may want medical travel insurance to cover anything including deductibles which are not covered by your plan. Also If you have a preexisting illness it may be covered under your trip cancellation insurance if you listed it as a known condition. Be aware that if you or another member of your party has in the past or is presently experiencing mental health issues, they may be denied coverage for health and travel by some carriers so be sure to shop for carriers who do not exclude this group.

Sporting equipment is a very odd item in regard to coverage.   Standard travel insurance covers the items while in transit (similar to Marine Inland); or if the equipment is lost or stolen in some instances, but;   If you are irresponsible and just leave your items accidentally, chances are the loss of the equipment will not be covered.  Additionally, if you leave your items with a stranger you most certainly will not be covered. Also, if you rent a car and leave the equipment where it can be seen in plain sight it will not be covered, but should be if concealed appropriately.  Another exception applies if you check or stow the equipment with an operator of a mode of transport, for example a tour bus or train; your travel insurance may not cover it but the operator of the transport should.

While attending the games you will probably want to use snow related sporting goods so you need to be covered if you are using your own equipment. (Rental insurance usually covers any hazard incurred while using the equipment) While many countries are being inundated with snow and some mountainous areas including the Alps are being blasted by record snowfall, blizzards and possible avalanches this area of South Korea has not receive as much snow since December.

Although South Korea does experience large snowfall events, very cold temperatures and earthquakes it has not had record snowfall this year. However, the ski resorts in the area use snow manufacturing equipment and groom the snow meticulously to prepare for snow related sports and activities so you should be able to enjoy these activities at your leisure depending on the Olympic schedule.

Be aware that simple travel insurance generally and almost universally excludes almost all use of the item for the sport it was intended to be used for.  In other words travel insurance will not cover any damage to your equipment while skiing, snowboarding or other snow related activity unless you supplement it with snow sports coverage. Another very common exclusion is the alcohol exclusion rule which prohibits recovery for accidents while you are drinking.

There are many reasons for having other types of travel insurance in place this particular year.  Regardless of your politics, travel can expose you to dangers you would not normally encounter.  South Korea is of course geographically close to North Korea.  Tensions were high between South Korea and North Korea and Russia as well due to restriction on Russian athlete’s participation, but tensions appear to be lessened between the two Korean countries and Russia after joint participation agreements were reached and invitations were sent promoting participation in the games.  Thus, everyone earnestly hopes for a peaceful and tranquil period during the games.  But there are still other nations with reasons for causing turmoil, , or you may just prefer to be cautious, so terrorism, kidnapping, war & armed conflicts insurance are options you really want to consider. These are generally exclusions from travel so you would need separate coverage.

It is very important to check the U.S. Depart of State for travel warnings regarding Korea.  If one is issued your travel insurance and health insurance may not be honored.

In any event Insurance should be given consideration whether traveling to Korea or anywhere in the world.  Nationwide, Progressive and Travelers are some of the larger carriers which provide travel insurance. See www.progressive.com/travel

Many others carriers offer this insurance as well.

 

Carpet Cleaning

Upholstery and carpet cleaning: Insurance challenges in water remediation and storm damage cleanup

Cleaning carpet and upholstery, while unpleasant at times, is generally a safe business activity for both the owner of the business and the employees of the carpet cleaning business. Some personal safety considerations exist while on a job site, and injuries do occur, but it is not a routinely dangerous or risky type of work.  However, this factor can significantly change when companies engage in water related disaster remediation and storm cleanup. This occupational field is fraught with insurance land mines which could leave you little or no coverage.

Upholstry and Carpet Cleaning Businesses need insurance.

The risk for an upholstery and carpet cleaning business engaging in storm cleanup is heightened for several reasons:

  • Workers are subjected to numerous dangerous conditions while doing cleanup which results in higher workers comp premiums for the business.
  • The property owner may not be covered under their insurance due to pollution exclusions for Category 3 Water damages related to flooding and storm damage which may make them incapable of paying for the cleanup;
  • Workers are dealing with the emotional turmoil experienced by their clients who are already suffering horrific losses from flood and water damage which can be compounded by lack of insurance coverage due to exclusions.
  • Your commercial general liability or business owner’s policy has absolute pollution exclusion which may nullify your general liability coverage.

Storm cleanup can lead to exposure to many toxins and environmental pollutants, including parasites, pesticides, sewage, fungi, bacteria, mud, sludge, toxic chemicals, residue, animal and human bodies, body parts, mold, mildew, rot and, of course; contaminated sea, ground and flood waters from oceans, rivers and lakes.  Additionally, workers can be exposed to rodents, reptiles and animals in the water that all carry diseases transmitted by biting or injecting venom, causing injury and sometimes death.  Employees can also be traumatized by these experiences. This environment leaves the employees in the direct path to acquire related illnesses and injuries.  This factor can influence the rate of workers compensation premium that the business will have to pay in the future and raises the costs for protective equipment that needs to be provided for the health and safety of the employees.  See OSHA Fact Sheets for safety measures to protect employees during water remediation work.

Not only the employees’ health may be affected, but the company’s financial health can be impacted when undertaking storm cleanup or remediation even when it pertains to just floors and upholstered furniture if there is or has been exposure to flood waters. Flood or storm water is by definition Category 3 water previously referred to as black water which is automatically defined as a pollutant.  The company’s Commercial General Liability policy undoubtedly contains numerous exclusions related to Class 3 water, mold and other pollutants. These are pollution exclusions.

Homeowners have policy exclusions for pollutants as well. They may affect the property owner’s coverage for any water damage especially if mold is present, unless they have purchase additional coverage by endorsements which covers the exclusions. You should verify coverage with the Homeowners insurance carrier if you are depending on them for payment for your services.

As a result of the exclusions for both parties, insurance coverage for this occupation is rife with issues and problems for the business owner.  In order to adequately protect the business three areas must be carefully covered.

 

First, all business insurance is categorized by class codes for general liability, standard industry classification and/or workers compensation.  All of these codes for a standard carpet and upholstery cleaning business change when a company performs storm cleanup and water remediation activities and falls under different class codes. So if your business undertakes water remediation as a new business activity you will need to add additional coverage for these activities by class codes or they may otherwise be excluded. If you proceed without changing your class codes you and you employees may not be covered for any water remediation jobs, so this is a critically necessary step. Many insurer do not cover water remediation firms at all and if you have not clear indicated you are doing that type of work, the carrier may not have to cover you.

Next you should determine what type of pollution exclusions are in your general liability policy, e.g. mold, fungus or bacteria that might prevent coverage. You may encounter any number of pollutants while performing storm water remediation.

Third, after examining your policy, you may need to obtain one or several more types of coverage for items that are excluded. In the past it was extremely difficult to obtain comprehensive coverage for remediation contractors.  Contractor’s pollution liability was thought to be the answer, but the mold exclusion became a huge issue prior to 2006 which could void your entire CGL policy and any contractor’s pollution policy.  See General Liability Insurance & Mold. April, 2008 http://www.restorationindustry.org for an in-depth history.

Refinements were made continuously to contractor’s liability policies and in today’s market CPL’s, together with endorsements are available covering most pollutants but it is up to you and your agent to ensure you purchase coverage for all conceivable risks.  Endorsements are generally available on a claims made or completed operations basis.  Additionally. In order to perform water remediation your business should comply with the ANSI/IICRC S 500 and S 520. Standards for Water Restoration to protect yourself from Professional Liability and purchase insurance covering that risk.

Water remediation is a very complex field and protection from liability is absolutely vital.  Before undertaking this venture be sure you have researched your insurance options carefully. Other material which may be helpful are: 1.  Mold Risk Management by Restoration Contractors http://www.armr.net  2. Contractor’s Pollution Liability Update;  and 3.. Environmental Insurance: Just the Facts,http://www.irmi.com.

 

Common Flooring Contractors Business Liability Classification Codes

SIC Business Insurance Codes:

  • 1752: Floor Laying And Other Floor Work
  • 3253: Tile Floor Installers
  • 2273: Carpet Installation
  • 3996: Linoleum and Hard Surface Installation

NAICS Liability Classifications:

  • 238330: Flooring Contractors

Business ISO General Liability:

  • 91341: Interior Carpentry
  • 94569: Floor Covering Installation—Not Ceramic, Tile or Stone
Common Workers Compensation Class Codes:
  • 5478: Carpet, Linoleum, Vinyl Installation
  • 5438: Tile Floor Installation
  • 5437: Hardwood Floor Installation and Refinishing
  • 5645: Residential Construction
  • 5651: Commercial Carpentry
  • 5436: California—Hardwood Floor Installation

 

 

 

Image Credit: Pixabay.com, CCO Creative Commons: No attribution required.

Water Pollution Insurance

An ominous exclusion to commercial general liability insurance

Water is essential to life and no human can survive without it. However, Water Pollution abounds making clean water a rare commodity throughout the world although America is considered a water rich country compared to many other countries.  Unfortunately, stewardship of this precious resource has not always been successful in the United States. Even though knowledge is gained exponentially as more research is conducted, more people become aware of the issue and more efforts are aimed at protecting water.  Yet Water Pollution still occurs every day in the business world. This is not an exaggeration.

Water Pollution is not limited to major industry and manufacturing.

Even SMB’s  have wastes that eventually reach the water.  Beauty shops use chemicals dyes and bleaches which end up in the sewer system.  Day cares use diapers, bleach, wipes and pharmaceuticals. Schools use bleaches, pesticides and cleaning products, Family farmers, as well as farming conglomerates, use fertilizer, feed, herbicides and pesticide. Farm animals give off waste which result in methane and pollutants in the water. Auto repairs, lawn mowing, painting all use products with pollutants which seep into our land and waters.  Additional pollution comes from bacteria in the water.  The list goes on and on. Essentially “…water and air have become global garbage cans” Jacques Yves Cousteau.

Water Pollution along a beach.

Water Pollution Insurance coverage is  a critically necessary to protect many businesses from liability and loss of their assets.

Water Pollution is a form of environmental pollution, which is often excluded from commercial general liability insurance in present day.  Prior to 1980, comprehensive general liability did include environmental pollution liability in some states.  It is entirely possible to have a claim brought for environmental pollution and find that an older general liability policies may still cover the event where the pollution has been ongoing over a lengthy period of time. (This is a very complex issue under insurance law which is beyond the scope of this article and consultation with a qualified attorney is advisable if you find yourself embroiled in a lawsuit or you have been notified of a claim).

Businesses and government usually want to protect their employees, their clients, their community and ultimately the end consumers of water. But businesses, local governments and the federal government make mistakes which affect everyone in the immediate area.  For instance think of the water pollution issues arising in Flint, Michigan when the city sought a cheaper water resource and did not explore the risks beforehand.

All sorts of circumstances can arise where businesses pollute the water unknowingly, or were unaware of the health consequences; or even polluted knowingly but did not have the information, resources or ability to prevent the pollution.  This scenario is all to plausible when any business is seeking to reign in costs.So what can you do to protect your business and assets from liability for pollution if you are in a precarious position or just want to help?

Businesses should ask the following questions before making business or financial decisions which may negatively affect clean water.

  1. What possible impact does my particular business have on pollution of the waterway? (Assess you specific situation).
  • What products to do you use which contain pollutants?
  • How do you dispose of your pollutants?
  • Is the disposal process environmentally safe?
  • Are any of the byproducts carcinogens, endocrine disputing compounds, heavy metals or toxins?
  • Are my employees adversely affected by exposure to these toxins?
  1. How can I stop pollution or at least reduce my impact? Suggestions are:
  • Recycle office and industrial byproducts when possible
  • Prevent runoff of wastewater contaminated by industrial pollutants
  • Use water efficient processes where possible in the office. For example low flow toilets and automatic sinks for employees
  • Use water efficient processes and water purification in your day to day operations.
  • Do not dump untreated toxic substances produced as a result of your business processes into any water source
  • Prevent chemical leaks and spills
  • Ensure sewage is treated or and sent to the proper facility for  sanitation
  • Work with your agent, carrier and risk management to establish safety plans

These are but a few ideas you can implement.  Research your specific industry for available solutions, filtration systems, less toxic alternatives and products you can use to cleanse and decontaminate waters used in your business processes.  Some online resources are: National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, www.nies.nih.gov., Water Research Foundation, www.water.org, Water Online, www.wateronline.com and Pollution Online, www.pollutiononline.com.  Also see and ISO 14001: 2004 & 20015.

If environmental pollution is excluded under your policy, which is very likely, your options are standalone policies, supplements and endorsements to your general liability policy or your business owner’s package.  Your agent may have to obtain a policy from a specialty broker, e.g. Lloyd’s. Environmental pollution insurance has many nuances and one type does not fit all.   Business owners need to be sure that you  obtain the insurance you need to cover specific situations;for example, run off of waste water versus pouring chemicals into a river or waterway. Either or both can be excluded depending on the verbiage of your individual policy.

Proactive steps to obtain water pollution insurance may benefit your business

Additionally, you may receive tangible  benefit from taking proactive steps such as receiving discounts and rate decreases from your carrier when you implement Water Pollution controls and safeguards which protect your employees and the public. Positive accolades, public support and recognition often follow proactive actions which can be used for marketing programs.

This blog post is not intended to be or to convey legal advice. All material and information have been created for general insurance informational purposes only, and should not be acted upon or accepted as legal advice and is not a substitute for obtaining legal advice from an attorney of your choosing.

Image Credit.  Google Images: JPEG Image used under an Advance Search license free to share for commercial usage.

Retails Sales:

Supply chains and logistics failures. How contingent business income interruption insurance coverage can help cover your loss.

The busiest sales season of the year is fast approaching for retail sales.   If store based retailers don’t have sought after products to sell, buyers are unhappy and leave; or they just order online and have it delivered. Unfortunately, they are not buying merchandise from you if you don’t have what they want. So here you are depending on your supply chains and their ability to manage logistics successfully which includes timely delivery of merchandise to you.  But what if those companies fail to deliver?  Well, you can wait for another type of delivery.

Contingent business income interruption insurance

 

But chance are slim that the goods will arrive in time and you will most likely loose sales.

However, as a realistic alternative, you could purchase a type of little known insurance.  You would think it might be called supply chain failure insurance but it isn’t.  It is called contingent business interruption insurance, or CBI which is “an extension to other insurance that reimburses lost profits and extra expenses resulting from an interruption of business at the premises of a customer or supplier.” See https://www.irm.com/articles/expert-commentary/contingent-business-interuption-gettingallthefacts

Usually commercial general liability and business property insurance are the basic types of insurance a business needs along with workers compensation if the business has employees and inland marine coverage if they have specialized equipment.  There are also various types of additional insurance coverage, usually added by endorsements, which may be appropriate for your business depending on your specific situation. Two of the available endorsements are business income interruption and contingent business interruption.

Business income interruption insurance is a type of insurance which is not covered by CGL or business property. So an ISO endorsement is needed to cover the loss specifically.  This type of insurance covers a direct loss of income at your business location and it can be part of a Business Owners Policy or Commercial Package, if designed in that manner. There are conditions which must be meant for this coverage to kick in, which depend on the loss being directly to the insured’s property and actually sustained. Therefore, a loss which does not impact the insured’s owned property is not covered.

But contingent business income interruption insurance can cover your losses due to a supply chain failure.

 

This is a separate and distinct endorsement which only applies when the insured is not the owner of the property which suffers the actual physical loss.   It specifically applies if the business supply chain is disrupted and income is lost by the insured due to the supplier’s failure to deliver for various reasons such as cargo theft, equipment failure, plant shutdown, cyber-attack or weather-related disasters.  A direct business income interruption endorsement will not cover you in this instance.  These two types are mutually exclusive and only one can actually apply in any given situation.

In older policies and some current policies, insureds had to purchase both primary direct business interruption insurance and a second specific endorsement for contingent business income interruption insurance using the proper ISO form. The insured business had to have the underlying endorsement for direct business loss of income and the amounts specified in the original direct loss endorsement determined what amount your indirect loss limits were. https://marsh.com/insights/research/business-insurance.html.

But in present times, some carriers, including the Hartford, automatically provide standard loss of business income (BI)  in their BOP with a host of additional endorsements available, specifically including Business Income for Dependent Properties (or CBI) in available options,  as well as many others. See: https://www.thehartford.com/business-income-insurance.

As dependence on supply chains evolve, claims have become more frequent. Documentation to verify the loss of income has become crucial to a successful claim.  Algebraic formulas have been developed to calculate loss and are adjusted to take into account seasonality for retail businesses.   http://www.air-worldwide.com/Blog/Supply-Chain-101–Breaking-Down-Contingent-Business-Interruption/

Businesses should be proactive before selecting a supply chain provider and be prepared for any loss.

Ask your supplier these questions before entering into a business relationship:

  • Does your supplier have a contingency plan to deal with natural and man-made disasters which interfere with delivery of goods on time?
  • Does your supplier have marine inland which will protect goods in transit and if so ask for a Certificate of Insurance and to be named as an additional insured on their policy? ( This will forestall any policy interpretation that CBI coverage is not applicable because it did not occur at the supplier’s place of business. This issue may not arise as arguably a business conducting a supply chain owns the transportation vehicle and it is the supplier’s property.  But it never hurts to be doubly insured.)
  • Ask for a Certificate of Insurance for the supply chains general commercial liability policy.
  • Does your supplier have logistics management error and omissions liability policy? If so, also obtain a Certificate of Insurance.
  • Does your supplier have cyber risk insurance which covers third party losses from business interruption if the supplier is shut down due to a cyber-attack? If so, ask for Certificate of Insurance and to be named as an additional insured.

In closing it is always a good practice to establish a good working relationship with your key suppliers and engage in any working supply chain group to solve problems both  before and after they occur.

Image Credit:  Pixabay CCO Creative Commons free for commercial use.

3D Jewelry Printing

3D Jewelry Printing Revolution can cause general liability insurance changes

 

Jewelry making has always been a time honored tradition requiring skilled artisans to create exquisite jewelry pieces.  These pieces  are sold in jewelry shops, boutiques, antique shops and galleries offering these tiny works of art.  Many jewelers have their own shops and sell their own custom designs. Alternately, originals and reproductions are sold in retail stores throughout the country on consignment; after purchasing directly from the artisan, or by obtaining copyright permission from the master artisan who designed and created the piece to mass produce it.

3D jewelry printing

In modern day many crafters also create jewelry on a smaller scale and sell it directly at art festivals, crafter’s markets, flea markets, mail orders and other means of distribution. In short jewelry sales in all its various forms is BIG BUSINESS.   Jewelry sales in 2014 exceeded $68 billion dollars according to the 2014 US Jewelry Market Report.

3D jewelry printing will revolutionize the jewelry making business.

3D printing will have a compound effect upon the industry as new methods will require different types of insurance to protect the artisans who make and sell jewelry. 3 D jewelry printing is actually one (1) form of seven (7) categories of additive manufacturing. This process allows artisans to create an original piece of jewelry using  additive manufacturing  and replicate the jewelry in mass. Jewelry makers will no longer be required to design each original piece using traditional lapidary and hand tools to chisel and polish gem stones and settings. Instead they can use 3D jewelry printing.

Additive manufacturing (ADM) methods used to make jewelry differ. There are several viable options.  American Pearl has built the “Jewelry Replicator” which can duplicate any piece of jewelry or create jewelry pieces from a photo or a drawing. As a result antique jewelry can be recreated when a piece is lost or broken beyond repair. 3D photo files can be created using software designed for jewelers such as “Rhinogold” to control the printer and design the actual jewelry.  Jewelry made with rare metals and jewel can be created using a combination of techniques based on the jeweler’s preference.

3D Printers, other related equipment and the components for making the jewelry in house using ADM must be put in place; which means an initial investment in the equipment, supplies and chemicals used in the process.  These items may be a great deal more expensive than traditional hand tools used in the past, but can be offset by the reduction in amount of time it takes to make the piece or pieces.  Or, jewelers have the option of sending a 3D software file to an outside printing service to print the jewelry piece rather than purchasing the printing equipment.

Ultimately, after the jewelry making process is chosen and the machinery and equipment are in place to replicate the jewelry, it may radically reduce the cost of producing the jewelry.  The ability to reproduce from a drawing or photo may diminish the need for galleries and show rooms and cause the retail value of some types of jewelry to fall as the supply of the product will increase.

On the other hand, it should lessen the costs of producing, copying and distributing the jewelry which will mean a bigger profit for the maker and seller.

Insurance coverage for Retail Jewelry Stores will need to be expanded.

Types of insurance which are available for Jewelers are:

  • Jewelers Standard policy
  • Jewelers Block Policy
  • Business Owners package designed for jewelers
  • Commercial Insurance Package designed for jewelers.

All of the above can be customized to fit the needs of any particular jewelry business.

Retail jewelry stores generally need the same types of insurance as any other business including general liability, worker’s compensation and standard business property coverage.

Jeweler’s also need property coverage for their building, fixtures, tools, equipment, molds, designs and original art work used to design jewelry. Other recommended  insurance riders or supplements include, marine inland, Bailee’s insurance, and employer’s liability.

A jeweler’s property insurance must  cover raw inventory, including stones, rare jewels, gold, copper, silver and other types of metal and elements used in jewelry making and design as well. Most of these coverage needs will not need to change due to additive manufacturing.

Insurance needs will change for:

  • general liability for new processes
  •  new  types of equipment,
  •  products and environmental liability,
  •  and, workers compensation.

Retail sales of jewelry are insured for general liability pursuant to the Class Codes depending on which of the 4 general classification codes are used to obtain a quote.   For example. if using NAICS,  retail  jewelers fall under the Industry Group 44813 and the basic NAICS class code for a jewelry store is NAICS 448310. However, if the store is considered a department store that sells a wide array of products, including jewelry it could be classified differently, but it is unlikely that a department store will engage in replicating 3D jewelry.

General liability  policies for retail jewelry sales should fall under this class code (or similar code) for jewelry making, But the additional class code for additive manufacturing will be come applicable for 3D jewelry printing services. So the general liability policy would need to be amended to add this code.

It is critical to  your coverage that any needed class codes be added as you are adding new tasks which may not be covered at all under jewelry sales.

As 3D printers were not historically used as equipment, jewelers will have to add coverage for a commercial 3D printer including coverage for repair or replacement and may need to increase or add loss of income if the machine is down for a stretch of time. Jewelers may also need insurance for loss of production when electrical outages occur. Increases to the amount of  coverage for fire may be needed due to the technical requirements of the printer and the temperature reached during the process.

While there is little certainty about the future of products liability litigation regarding 3D jewelry printing in general, liability may arise. http://www.industryweek.com/emerging-technologies/3D-printing-and-its-uncertain-products-liability-landscape. Thus, it is prudent to explore what options are available through your agent to protect you from a products liability claim in case a client suffers injury directly from a product you created or from exposure to a component used in the 3D process.

Workers compensation insurance codes may need to be added to your policy as workers may be exposed to new risks during the 3D process. Byproducts of plastic and metal powders used in the additive process may also be an environmental pollutant and  a workers compensation risk which may raise premium cost and increase your risk for pollution liability.  Pollution is generally an exclusion under a general liability policy so you do need to examine you policy to determine if excluded, and determine options to obtain pollution coverage.  The best way to address rising premium  costs is to implement a safety plan for the business designed to combat these concerns and protect your worker’s health.  The plan should also address disposal of byproducts and chemicals.  See: http://www.lawnandlandscape.com/article/ll-071317-insurance-safety/

It may be necessary to protect 3D jewelry printing software files  by  adding  or increasing cyber liability insurance.  Patents, trademarks and copyright insurance should be added or enhanced especially if you are replicating jewelry produced by another artisan, or in case someone steals your designs electronically.

Thoughtful examination of your insurance policies will set you on the path to a successful and profitable 3D jewelry printing venture.

Image credit: Pixabay.com, used under Creative Commons CCO, permission from artist or attribution not needed for any purpose.