Spring brings April showers, May flowers...and a lot more construction. In fact, spring and summer are peak periods for construction projects, with cranes and scaffolding dotting the landscape throughout American communities.

Any improvement project, however, comes with real risks to an operation, its equipment, assets, and employees. Agents should talk to their clients about the coverages they should carry as well as the safety and risk management strategies that should be in place to minimize losses.

Coverage for Cranes, Rigging & Specialized Transportation

Typically a crane and/or rigging company is contracted for use of its crane and operator to lift and move heavy materials at a construction site. A lot can go wrong with the operation of a crane and its rigging, putting the company at risk for significant liability exposures.

In addition, cranes are very expensive equipment and damage to them can be costly to repair, as is the cost to replace them in addition to the resulting loss of income while the crane is inoperable. Common causes of loss are usually a result of overloading, boom failure, and inclement weather (rain, for example, which is common during spring).

The following are several of the most important coverages to discuss with crane, rigging, & specialized transportation companies, specific to their unique risks:

  • Riggers Liability including care, custody, and control for lifting, in transit, and in storage
  • Boom & Jib Overload coverage (RPS provides this on a General Liability policy to reduce costs)
  • 'Over the Road' coverage on mobile equipment to cover an in-transit accident
  • Overturn of Equipment coverage
  • Sudden & Accidental Pollution included with a General Liability policy
  • Replacement Cost Evaluation for equipment
  • Loss of Income for cranes that are damaged as part of a loss
  • Motor Truck Cargo
  • Cyber Liability
  • Workers' Compensation

Coverage for Scaffolding & Construction Access

About 2.3 million construction workers, or around 65% of the construction industry, work on scaffolds. As such, Scaffolding & Construction Access is a critical component of most construction projects, provides support to workers and their tools while on the job.

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), scaffold-related accidents result in roughly 60 deaths and 4,500 injuries every year, and account for about 25% of fatal falls from all working surfaces. Common causes of scaffolding accidents are as a result of slips and falls, bad planking (unstable, unsecured, or insufficient plank size), falling debris, electrocution because of the proximity to power lines, poor scaffolding assembly and preparation, and inadequate personnel training.

The liability risk from these types of accidents is further complicated in New York by its Labor Laws, which hold both employers and property owners fully liable when an employee becomes injured due to a gravity-related fall while working at high elevations.

"It's no secret that New York, and specifically New York City, is one of the most difficult, challenging, and expensive places to write coverage for," says Rikki Concannon, RPS Senior Broker Relationship Manager. "Especially for the Crane & Scaffold industries that deal with high-level risks. There are so many laws and other hoops to go through [when] writing coverage. You need a specialty risk program underwriting manager that knows what they are doing to offer a proper insurance solution."

For example, New York Labor Law 240 protects the rights of workers injured in a fall or due to a falling object striking them, while New York Labor Law 241 requires that reasonable and adequate protection and safety is provided to workers in all areas in which construction, excavation or demolition work is being performed.

In New York, workers can sue a property owner for contributing to their injury, as provisions in the Labor Laws allow certain injured workers to directly sue companies (property owners) on whose land and facilities the workers are operating, even if the workers are employed by an independent contractor hired by the corporation that owns the job site.

Agents should prioritize discussing these important coverages, and coverage features, with clients in the Scaffolding & Construction Access industry:

  • General Liability
  • Sudden & Accidental Pollution
  • Property
  • Flood and Earthquake (available in most states)
  • Replacement Cost Valuation for equipment
  • Loss of Income if scaffold is damaged in a loss
  • No height limitations
  • No Condominium or Residential exclusions
  • Action Over Coverage
  • Excess Liability
  • Automobile
  • Cyber Liability
  • Workers' Compensation

Construction Needs Becoming More Specific

"The needs and expectations of insureds in the construction arena are changing," says Concannon. "They have become more sophisticated, and know what they are looking for from a broker.

"It's why being a generalist doesn't really cut it anymore. Insureds expect you to speak their language and know what unique risks they are facing. The 'Scaffold & Construction Access' and 'Crane, Rigging, & Specialized Transportation' industries are highly specialized and require specialized solutions to properly understand and cover their unique risks."