Is Your Construction Site Adequately Covered?

There is no getting around it – every work site needs to have adequate insurance coverage. Workers, subcontractors, general contractors and site owners need different insurance products to protect the different aspects of the work they perform.


Constructing Contracts

General contractors often ask their subcontractors to sign contracts that ensure the protection of their company against lawsuits should an accident occur on the worksite. The purpose of these contracts is twofold. First, the contract makes certain that the subcontractor working on the site, whether overseeing installation of flooring, electrical, HVAC, etc., has the resources to pay a claim that may be made against them. Secondly, the contracts have various legal requirements such as, indemnification, hold harmless, waiver of subrogation and additional named insured wording in favor of the general contractor.

Where the Problem Lies

While these contracts can insure against a range of potential issues, there is no one-size-fits-all contract that protects all parties from all situations. Subsequently, these contracts need to be updated frequently to account for new, expired and obsolete insurance products. While some insurance coverage may no longer be applicable to specific carriers, some may be dead to the industry as a whole.

Building a Solution

In order to ensure that your contracts are legally bonding and as up-to-date as possible, it is important that you bring an insurance professional into the contract agreement. Your agent will be able to tell you if you have the appropriate products in your contract to protect yourself and others on the site. It is difficult enough to keep a job site on schedule and within budget. The last thing you need on site is for an accident to occur and to be liable for negligent acts that were caused by your subcontractors.

Call your insurance agent today to make sure that you have the coverage you need, that your contracts are current and serve the purpose that they were designed to handle.

Importance of Hiring the Right Employee

By Michael Boothman
Risk Advisor

Poor hiring decisions can be extremely costly for your company, in terms of business interruption, lower employee morale, wasted recruiting and training resources, and more. You may realize that an individual is not a good fit, or a new employee may choose to leave if the job doesn’t match their expectations. In both circumstances, many of these separations are due to the fact that the hired individuals did not fit the company culture and were therefore lacked productivity, creativity and/or morale.

Importance of a ‘Good Fit’

Help WantedFinding employees who are a good fit for the organization produces the following benefits:

  • Improved employee retention.
  • Enhanced employee performance because most individuals at the company share similar values and aspirations. When people share a common purpose and similar attitude, it can encourage people to perform better.
  • Improved alignment from the top to the bottom and employees may view leadership more positively.

Screening to Find a ‘Cultural Fit’

Developing a screening process that integrates prescreening based on your company culture can be accomplished with the following steps.Ask employees at various levels of the organization how they see your company culture. Then, identify the similarities that arise among individuals – motivations, values, core competencies, etc.

  • When you can identify what makes the organization successful, you will know what to look for during the selection process. This technique is also beneficial in avoiding hiring discrimination allegations because “culture” is more defined and concrete, which can help you better justify hiring decisions.

Create a brand to describe your organization to potential employees.

  • Depict your culture accurately so that candidates can filter themselves in or out based on how you describe the company. If they do not see themselves fitting into your culture, they may not even apply.

Companies looking to hire individuals that fit with their culture must first identify and understand it. For instance, if your organization recognizes personal achievements and awards individuals for a job well done, then a team-oriented employee might not be the best fit. But if your company values the total team performance versus the contributions of just one individual, then someone looking for personal recognition might not be as satisfied working for your company. Ultimately, if the fit is not right between the company and individual, then both will lose interest and the relationship will probably fail.


What You Need to Know About the Affordable Care Act

By Ariell Wayman
Account Manager
Employee Benefits Division

We have already seen so many changes in the United States due to the enactment of the Affordable Care Act. The new law enforced nume495559275_fd6961c670rous changes that affected everyone who wanted or has health insurance. Today we have seen only a fraction of the true impact of healthcare reform.

Many in the small business community took advantage of the early renewal program that many carriers offered to their clients in 2013, which provided clients the opportunity to move their renewal date to December 1st. This in turn provided clients another year to “stall” the implementation of an ACA plan.

In a turn of events, President Obama had to reorganize with insurance carriers to allow employers the ability to keep their coverage that was in existence prior to January 1, 2014. Therefore, in 2014, employers have the ability to keep the coverage they had prior to 1/1/2014 or move to an ACA compliant plan.

Our goal is to highlight a few changes that you need to be made aware while reviewing your renewal.

  • Under an ACA Compliant plan, co-payments, deductibles and coinsurance will apply towards the out-of-pocket maximum.
  • ACA compliant plans, under the “small group market (under 50 lives)) have a deductible limit of $2,000 and the out-of-pocket max cannot exceed $6350.
  • Some carriers have structured the prescription drug card under ACA compliant plans to be less affordable as there is an additional cost to the insured if generic prescriptions are available, but a brand name drug is purchased instead.
  • There are limited plans which mean less mitigation techniques to help lower increases.
  • The rate structure for small groups (less than 50 lives) have age-banded rate tables in lieu of composite rates (tiered: Employee; Employee/Spouse; Employee/Child(ren) or Family.
  • Pediatric dental and vision services are included under the “small group” ACA compliant plans.
  • ACA prohibits health plans from imposing pre-existing condition exclusions.

Winter Maintenance Tips

Prevent Frozen Pipes:

Protect your home or business and avoid an indoor winter storm that can cause expensive damage. Water expands as it freezes and puts significant pressure on the metal or plastic pipes that hold it. Pipes that are exposed to extreme cold can burst when water expands; these include outdoor hose bibs, swimming pool supply lines, water sprinkler lines and water supply pipes.

Frozen pipes, both copper and PVC, can cause a lot a damage to your business. Pipes can burst and cause water to leak on interior walls and floors, causing expensive water damage that can go far beyond just the expense of repairing the pipes. A three millimeter crack in a pipe can disperse up to 250 gallons of water a day and creates an electrical safety concern.

Check all faucets in your establishment. When you turn on a faucet and only a trickle comes out, a frozen pipe may be at fault. Make sure that all employees know how to turn off the water valves in case a pipe does burst.

Products to Prevent Freezing

Spray Foam: Foam is sprayed into the wall to fill cavities around pipes where they may expand. It also will insulate walls and block airflow from them. When using spray foam, make sure you also caulk exterior joints on the outside wall near pipes.

Heat Tape: The tape plugs into a grounded outlet and is then spiral wrapped around pipes. Tapes have a built in thermostat that automatically call for power when the temperature drops near freezing and will power off when the temperature rises.

In-pipe Heating Elements: Devices are placed in water and sewer pipes and conduct heat directly into the pipe as needed.

Valve Units: Products are screwed onto faucets (usually outside) an prohibit water from going through when temperatures are too low. The valve sensor detectors low and high temperatures. When the low temperature is detected, the sensor opens a micro-valve to produce heat. As the temperature rises, the valve closes.

Additional Winter Maintenance Tips:

Add these supplies to your winter emergency kit:

  • Rock salt or more environmentally safe products to melt ice on walkways
  • Sand to improve traction
  • Snow shovels and other snow removal equipment
  • Sufficient heating fuel properly and safely stored

Additionally, you should create an emergency communications plan to know how to contact one another when disasters arise and what to do in case of an emergency.

    Other tips that can reduce your exposure to element risks include:
  • Awareness: Listen to a NOAA Weather Radio or other local news channels for critical information from the National Weather Service.
  • Minimize employee travel and ensure each company vehicle has an emergency supply kit with blankets and items to keep them warm if they experience a break down.
  • Winterize your building by clearing rain gutters, repair roof leaks and clear large tree branches that could break off and fall on the building or in areas people walk.
  • Caulk or put weather strips in doors and ensure maintenance is up to date on all heating equipment. Ensure chimneys have recently been inspected and cleaned.Make sure fire extinguishers are available and all employees know how to use and find.
  • If using heating devises, ensure there is proper insulation and placed in a safe location far from flammable objects. Ensure all carbon monoxide detectors/alarms have fresh batteries. To avoid carbon monoxide poisoning, do not use a generator, grill, or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal burning devise inside your business, garage, basement, crawlspace or any partially enclosed area. Also, locate the unit away from doors, windows and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.
  • Insulate pipes with insulation or newspapers and plastic and allow faucets to drip a little during cold weather to avoid freezing. Running water, even a trickle will help to prevent pipes from freezing.

 In addition to insuring your valuables, SIA Group is committed to helping you and your business stay safe before disasters strikes.

Understanding Insurance Requirements on Construction Agreements

By Sherry Whaley, Commercial Account Manager

On a daily basis, many contractors are required to create and sign several contracts in addition to submitting several bids to various contractors for work.  Once the job is awarded, the next step is to obtain an insurance certificate from their agent.  Along with obtaining the insurance certificate, the contractor needs to review the contract, submit W-9’s and a multitude of other items that need to be submitted before work can begin.

As an account manager and trusted adviser for my clients, I typically review the insurance requirements and begin analyzing the insurance portion of the contract to see what is required of the general contractor.  Below, is a review of insurance terms that are listed as requirements in most contracts.

Additional Insured Status:  The general contractor is asking to be included as additional insured, along with the project owner and other parties included in the contractual requirements.  The additional insured request may be requested on the general liability and the automobile liability. There are many additional insured endorsements to choose from, however, most contracts will require additional insured including completed operations coverage.

Waiver of Subrogation:  Waiver is a relinquishment of a known right.  The general contractor may request waiver on the general liability, automobile liability and the workers compensation policies.  Waiver of subrogation with respects to your general liability, auto liability and workers compensation, basically is stating that coverage will not be jeopardized if the insured has waived in writing prior to a loss any rights of recovery from a party responsible for the loss. This basically means if you request waiver of subrogation before a loss occurs, your insurance carrier may not subrogate (go back against) the general  contractors’ insurance coverage.

Primary and Non-Contributory: This is when the general contractor is requesting to transfer the financial consequences of legal liability arising out of the business relationship with the named insured. That means that in order to function effectively as a risk transfer technique, coverage that comes by way of additional insured status must respond first to a covered claim –before the additional insured’s own liability policy is called on to pay. The non-contributory wording is stating the general contractor is not wanting their insurance coverage to contribute to the loss.

Per Project Aggregate: The limit of liability would respond per project instead of applying per policy.

Cancellation Provisions:  Often times the general contractor will require 30 days cancellation guaranteeing return receipt, certified mail.  All policies will need to be endorsed to give 30 Days Notice of Cancellation for non-payment of premium if this provision is required.

Umbrella Policy– Normally an umbrella policy will be required by most general contractors.  The umbrella policy is excess coverage that follows form to your underlying policies: General Liability, Auto Liability & Employers Liability.  An umbrella policy would respond when your underlying policy limits have been exhausted.

Other insurance Requirements:

  • Pollution – Normally the contract will state the limit required
  • Mold- Normally the contract will state the limit required
  • Workers Compensation to be endorsed with special endorsements: US Longshore & Harbor(required when working over or near navigable waters), Jones Act, Admiral Act

This is of course not all of the items we see in construction agreements.  There are still other items you may be required to carry. Please feel free to call me on my direct line at 910-478-3316.

Umbrella Policies, Protection from any Storm

Sherry Whaley, AAI, CRIS, PWCA

Commercial Lines Account Manager

When most Americans think of an umbrella, they are more than likely to think about protection. Although, most assume the discussion involves weather, they are unaware of the significant “protection” they can receive from an umbrella insurance policy.

While many purchase an umbrella to protect their clothing from rain, too many are hesitant, or unaware of the value of protection they can purchase for their business or personal liability exposures. Simply put, insurance umbrella coverage offers an extension to underlying policies to manage additional expenses once funds from the policy have been exhausted. An umbrella policy can be written to go over just one line of coverage, or it can be written to go over commercial auto liability, general liability and employer liability.

It is necessary to learn about common claim severity cases related to your business or personal expenditures to ensure that you are aware and prepared for any incident. Several cases prove that a fall from a visitor at your business location or home can accrue costs from a large financial settlement that can easily surpass the primary liability limits of your existing business insurance policy, leaving you responsible for the rest.

As the economy shows a slow recovery, claim severity has continued to increase and has displayed no sign of slowing down. Such statistics and cases demonstrate more need to afford the additional coverage so that your business can focus on increased revenue versus recovery from a down economy in addition to a gap in coverage that failed to pick up where your business policy ended.

When revenues are down, it is the most important time to make certain that you are not neglecting insurance needs. According to Investopedia, businesses that are underinsured, or without broad, proper and adequate coverage, such as an umbrella, are taking needless risks that can lead to serious financial problems.

An umbrella insurance policy provides an additional layer of security to those who are at risk for being sued for damages to other people’s property or injuries caused to others in an accident. Such a policy is very helpful when the insurance owner is sued and the dollar limit of the original policy has been exhausted.

As with any storm, it is best to purchase the appropriate gear, such as an umbrella, to ensure that you are not only properly protected, but also fully prepared to endure any situation.

New Hospitality Carbon Monoxide Detector Regulation

Cliff Patterson, Vice President Sales Executive

Cliff Patterson

The safety and security of hotel guests are one of the most important priorities of SIA Group. Carbon monoxide has killed nearly 400 people throughout North Carolina since 2011 according to a Charlotte Observer report. Although North Carolina is among the 27 states that require carbon monoxide alarms in new homes, it did not mandate detectors in hotels.

Months after three carbon monoxide poisoning fatalities in Boone, NC, Rep. Becky Carney, D-Mecklenburg, together with the NC Restaurant and Lodging Association and Building Code Council, persuaded legislative leaders to require North Carolina hotels to install carbon monoxide detectors near fuel-burning appliances.

Effective October 1, under Section 19 of House Bill 74, The Regulatory Reform Act, requires the North Carolina Building Code Council to adopt new code provisions requiring carbon monoxide detectors in certain places within every North Carolina lodging property. Lodging establishments must install carbon monoxide detectors in any enclosed space having a fossil fuel burning appliance, heater or fireplace and in any room that shares a common wall, ceiling or floor with an enclosed space with a fossil fuel burning appliance, heater or fireplace.

Some national hotels chains such as La Quinta Inn & Suites already require alarms to be installed at every location where there are pools with gas-fired equipment. Marriott also mandates detectors are to be placed wherever fuel-burning equipment is located within the hotel.

Smaller, or individually owned and operated establishments typically require each hotel to comply with federal, state and local laws and standards, including those related to health and safety and this change will have a direct impact on  such smaller establishments. Most mid-size hotels average two to three monoxide sources. Common examples of these appliances include water heaters and gas appliances in the hotel kitchen.

It is necessary to ensure the carbon monoxide detectors installed meet new code requirements:

  • Can be battery-operated or electrical
  • Can also be combined with smoke detectors so long as the smoke detector complies with the above mentioned requirements and compliant with ANSI/UL217.
  • Must be installed in accordance with either the standard of the National Fire Protection Association or the minimum protection designated by the manufacturer’s instructions.

Carbon monoxide is known as “the silent killer,” a colorless and odorless gas that is known to cause death or illness in minutes. SIA Group fully supports this new regulation and will continue to aim to keep our clients and each guest they serve safe throughout their hotel stay.