Concrete Contractors and Silica:

The field of Concrete Construction is extremely complex. This type of construction is subject to the ASTM International Concrete and Construction Standards (The American Section of the International Association for Testing Materials) as well as the American Concrete Institute Standards for Design and Construction.

Each build differs with the type of cement, sand and aggregates used to mix the concrete.  The contractor must consider the moisture content, the strength of the mixture, the chemical reaction abrasion test result, and numerous other factors which go into planning a build. One of those factors is the use of silica in the process of making concrete and removal of silica. This mineral is about to make the job even more complex and  may affect the bottom line due to increased need and costs for insurance coverage which shields you from liability for it’s use.

All concrete contractors need commercial insurance including commercial general liability and worker’s compensation which are required by law in most states. It is important to remember that general liability does not cover all insurance needs. You will also need Commercial Property, Commercial Auto, Inland Marine for tools and equipment and/ or Goods in Transit and Installation.

Additional recommendations not specific to  the installation of concrete, would be Employee Dishonesty, Employee Benefits Liability, Employee Related Practices, Loss of Business Income with Extra Expense, Stop Gap Liability, Umbrella Insurance and Professional Liability for design and installation. You also need Heavy Equipment Insurance if your commercial auto does not cover large vehicles such as a cement mixer truck, dump trucks and other heavy equipment you use.

Specific Industry related recommended insurances would include Contractors E&O, (This is not the same as Professional Liability insurance) E&O covers you when you make a mistake and are negligent during the building process.  Along with E&O you need a custom combination of the three types of insurance below to protect your business from environmental threats.

  • Products Liability
  • Environmental Impairment Liability
  • Pollution Control

The need for these insurance types has come about with the rise in litigation surrounding the construction industry as a whole and regulations  imposed for each specific industry in the field of construction So you may need all of these separately or combined in a BOP depending on what your carrier offers.

Due to health concerns for workers and the public, OSHA recently adopted new rules in regard to airborne (respirable) silica. Silica is one of the varying components contained within the sand, rock and the cement used in the concrete mixture by contractors.   This rule will significantly impact Concrete Contractors. Crystalline silica (SIo2) is the type used to make concrete as opposed to amorphous silica.  All of the 5 types of crystalline silica are listed as known occupational carcinogens by the CDC.  Crystalline silica is hazardous when it is used in construction processes such as blasting, cutting, chipping, drilling and grinding which make the silica “respirable”.  It works much like asbestos which is not hazardous unless disturbed, and then the substance becomes friable. When silica is disturbed by construction processes it becomes “respirable” and workers breathe silica in and it becomes hazardous and can  cause Silicosis and many severe lung related diseases which can be fatal in addition to cancer.

The Insurance and Risk Management Institute (IRMI) has predicted that the litigation surrounding silica will rise and result in increased environmental litigation much like the issues surrounding toxic mold did and points out that as Silica is a known carcinogen while mold is not. Aside from IRMI’s prediction silica seems to be more akin to asbestos than mold in some ways. According to the Department of Labor Construction Workers as a whole have an anticipated death rate of 1.82 as opposed to metal mining where the rate is the highest a 69.51%.  But that figure could be categorically higher for concrete workers ( the study was not broken down to examine different types of construction workers) as their exposure to respirable silica is frequent, due to contact with the components used to make concrete and resulting concrete dust, while it is being mixed, installed, poured, leveled, troweled edged, brushed finished and cut to specifications.  Workers are also exposed to the dust during the removal of old concrete from a construction or demolition site or during remodeling.

As pointed out by IRMI, the growing numbers of silica litigation could cause an exclusion to be carved out by insurance carriers for silica just as one was created in regard to asbestos. So look for an exclusion specifically for silica in your general liability policy to become a reality in the near future throughout the construction industry but particularly in regard to concrete contractors and workers.  Additionally insurance carriers could deny coverage based on the total pollution exclusion if a court finds that silica is a pollutant. It is very likely that silica would be considered a toxin.

Despite these issues, it does not mean that liability coverage will not be available if silica is used during the construction project. It means:

  • Concrete contractor will need to carefully review their existing policies and question your agent whether coverage for silica exposure is specifically excluded or there is a pollutant exclusion. If so,
  • Concrete contractors will have to purchase an endorsement, rider or supplement  that covers silica  either as an environmental hazard or a pollutant and adds coverage in addition to  any exclusion in  their existing CGL policy; or purchase a new BOP designed to cover environmental pollution and  pollutant liability
  • Insurance carriers will want safety plans that comply with specific OSHA regulations and the new silica rule to prevent silica exposure through the use of safety equipment and limiting time of exposure to be part of your everyday operations.
  • Expect higher workers compensation premiums as awareness arises and workers are diagnosed with silicosis or other related diseases.
  • Compliance with OSHA regulations to prevent or minimize exposure will be critical and will hopefully reduce the amount of your premiums.
  • Products liability will be necessary because the concrete mix you are making is actually a product you made or “manufactured” and you would have liability for it; if it is harmful to the public.  You also have liability during the demolition and removal process for old concrete that you encounter as it will become respirable at that point: and you will have liability for any other toxins uncovered during the removal. If you purchase the concrete from an outside source, you may  also still have some liability for using and installing it and recommending it to the client just as asbestos manufactures and installers were liable.

CNA Insurance offers a Subcontractors Errors and Omissions Policy with Pollution Liability which is endorsed by the America Society of Concrete Contractors.  Their Pollution Liability Coverage includes asbestos, mold and respirable dust or Silica. Travelers also offer Contractor’s Edge policies.  Many other carriers have policies that you can purchase additional supplements and endorsements for which can provide for coverage of these hazards for silica and/or other toxins which have exclusion in your CGL policy.

What is seasonal increase coverage for a florist?

And why do you need it?


Get the best info about insurance for Florists.


Valentine’s Day has just passed and the pleasure it brings to scores of people lingers fondly on our minds.  Maybe florists do not view the holiday with the same delight, as the hustle and bustle to prepare for the holiday, as Valentine’s Day is one the biggest seasonal peaks for sales during the year. During any seasonal peak the floral inventory is usually significantly larger than at other times of the year.

If you are a florist, hopefully this season went smoothly. But if you experienced a loss of any of your business floral inventory your losses would most likely be higher than normal, based on the value of the larger inventory.  Comfortingly, this is one time of the year when insurance coverage may be expanded without an additional cost to you.

If your standard business property policy includes coverage for a seasonal increase your coverage limit may be  raised 25% at the time of a loss provided your preceding 12 month average value of your inventory and business personal property is 100%  of the policy limit.

This coverage feature is not available when the business is not experiencing a peak season, such as Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa, Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Easter/Passover, and Thanksgiving.  These holidays are all statistically peak seasons for florists.  Spring weddings may be peak seasons  as well, but the true test depends on your inventory volume and value.

Along with this potential free benefit, you might consider purchasing optional peak season coverage, which provides heightened coverage for possible losses during a peak season.  Various insurance carriers offer this expanded coverage in different formats.

For instance, it can be offered as a feature in Florist Business Insurance Policy (Similar to a BOP).  State Farm offers this feature. Or it can be offered as a part of a Florist Stretch endorsement utilizing ISO appropriate forms. For example, the Hartford offers such an Endorsement. (See From SS 04 09 09 07). Many other non-captive commercial insurance carriers offer similar endorsements.

American Family offers a hybrid feature where the first 25% seasonal increase is a part of the standard business property policy and another 25% additional coverage is offered as an enhanced endorsement.

Of course, you must first have standard business/commercial property insurance or a bop before you can purchase a stretch or enhanced endorsement in combination with your  standard policy.  The standard coverage will have a policy limit on the property loss by each type of covered property and the endorsement catapults the policy to a larger value.  If you have acquired an endorsement you can tailor the endorsement to list the actual times when you anticipate a peak to occur. If you specify the beginning and ending dates of your peak season in your endorsement policy be sure to allow a little extra time at the beginning and end of your peak to accumulate and dispose of inventory. However, exercise caution so that you don’t extend the time unnecessarily as it might backfire and you could end up with a co-insurance penalty.  This type of penalty arises when a loss occurs and the value of the lost property  exceeds the percentage of  value of the property coverage required in the policy.

As your business grows hopefully your sales will increase which, in turn means you will have a larger amount of inventory.  Periodically review the value of your inventory and determine whether your policy limits are still adequate and update the coverage if not.  That action can help prevent having a coinsurance penalty issue.

One other coverage issue is closely related to your floral inventory, whether or not you are in a peak season.  That is known as  spoilage. Flowers and fauna can spoil when refrigeration units break down:

  • While at the shop
  • in transit to a delivery
  • at the sight of an event where you are providing the flowers
  • Or when the power goes out due to an outage.

The critical question then becomes:  Are all of these events covered under business property insurance or a Florist BOP or are they excluded?  To be sure, examine your policy and determine if you need an endorsement for spoilage, refrigeration or utility services interruption, or all of the above.

If you need help with the nuances of your policy don’t’ hesitate to ask questions and discuss with your agent so you can be assured that you are getting a sweet deal.