Washington General Contractors Insurance Policy Information
Washington General Contractors Insurance. As a general contractor, a lot of responsibilities rest on your shoulders. Whether you're tasked with building houses, schools, restaurants, hotels, or any other type of structure, not only do you need to ensure that the needs of your clients are met, but you also have to ensure that all of your work is up to code, as well as secure all necessary building permits.
General contractors manage the construction of a new building project or renovation to an existing structure. They purchase all building materials, hire all labor, and obtain any other equipment or services needed to complete the project.
WA general contractors generally specialize in constructing single family homes or commercial buildings such as factories, offices, restaurants, or stadiums, but may also oversee other construction projects such as bridges, retaining walls, or towers.
Most have permanent employees, then subcontract the remaining tasks, such as electrical, heating, or plumbing, to specialty subcontractors. While firms whose employees do no actual construction work are commonly called "paper" contractors, they generally act as the prime contractor for such tasks as framing carpentry, structural masonry, or metal building erection, with remaining work done by subcontractors.
Once the land has been purchased and the design or architectural work approved by the property owner, the general contractor handles the project from site preparation to its completion, including any interior finishing work.
Typically, the general contractor turns the architect's design into specifications for work and materials, sets quality standards, schedules all phases of the project, and dictates insurance requirements.
The contractor solicits competitive proposals or bids from potential subcontractors and suppliers and works with the customer to award contracts to the successful bidders.
The general contractor is responsible for complying with all local and state ordinances, codes and zoning requirements, including obtaining the necessary permits and purchasing the required surety bonds, and for workplace safety.
Given the fact that you are responsible for so much, if anything goes wrong, you will be held liable and could be looking at serious financial losses. That's why investing in the right type of Washington general contractors insurance coverage is so important.
What kind of coverage will you need? Read on to find out how you can protect your Washington general contracting business.
Washington general contractors insurance protects your contracting business from lawsuits with rates as low as $79/mo. Get a fast quote and your certificate of insurance now.
Why Do General Contractors Need Insurance?
There are any number of things that could go wrong when you're a general contractor. A client could file a lawsuit against you, stating that you didn't complete the job that you were hired to do. An employee could fall off a ladder while working and suffer an injury.
The office that you operate your business out of could go up in flames. Your expensive tools could be lost or stolen. These are just a few examples of the different things that could go wrong, and for each one, guess who is responsible? - That's right, you are.
The costs of repairs to buildings, medical care that anyone may require, lost wages, replacing lost or stolen tools, and legal expenses, can all be quite exorbitant. That's why you need to have the right kind of insurance coverage.
If you're insured, instead of paying the expenses that are related to any mishaps that may occur yourself, your insurance carrier will cover them for you. In the long run, insurance can help to save you from serious financial losses. Being properly covered is also important because it ensures that your business is compliant with local laws.
WA general contractors are legally required to carry certain types of coverage. If you don't have the necessary Washington general contractors insurance coverage in place, there's a chance that you could be looking at stiff fines and there's even a chance that you might lose your business.
What Type Of Insurance Do General Contractors Need?
There is no "one-size-fits-all" Washington general contractors insurance. That's because the services that contractors offer vary and the types of insurance that are legally required vary from location to location.
In order to find out exactly what type of insurance coverage you'll need to carry, speaking with a reputable and experienced commercial insurance agent is definitely your best bet. With that said, however, there are some coverages that most general contractors will need to carry, including:
- General Liability: This policy provides protection against third-party property damage and bodily injury claims. If a client were to trip over a wire while visiting your office, suffer an injury, and then file a lawsuit against you, general liability insurance would help to pay for any related expenses, including legal defense fees and compensation that you may be required to pay out.
- Workers' Compensation: Most states require employers to carry workers' compensation insurance. This type of coverage will pay for any work-related injuries that your employees may sustain. For instance, if a worker were to fall off a ladder, break a leg, and not be able to work until they healed, this insurance would pay for their medical expenses and lost wages.
- Commercial Property: To protect the building that you operate your general contracting business out of, you'll need to carry commercial property insurance. It covers the physical structure of your business, as well as the contents within it. If a fire were to break out in your office, for example, this insurance would cover the cost of any related repairs, as well as compensate you for anything that needs to be replaced.
The above-mentioned policies are just a few examples of the type of Washington general contractors insurance coverage you should consider for your operations.
WA General Contractors' Risks & Exposures
Premises liability exposures at the contractor's office and storage facility are usually limited due to lack of public access. Any outdoor storage of equipment or supplies may create vandalism and attractive nuisance hazards. Off-site exposures are extensive as the general contractor is ultimately responsible for all injuries or property damage that results from construction operations, including those that are due to the acts or omissions of subcontractors.
The area of operation should be restricted by barriers and proper signage to protect the public from slips and falls over tools, power cords, building materials and scrap. Lack of adequate communication between the different subcontractors can cause hazardous working conditions, especially if blasting or similar hazardous operations are taking place. Heavy machinery used for excavation may cut power lines, disrupting service to other homes or businesses in the vicinity.
Welding presents potential for burns or setting the property of others on fire if not conducted safely. The contractor's employees can cause damage to the client's other property or bodily injury to members of the public or employees of other contractors. If there is work at heights, falling tools, or supplies may cause damage and injury if dropped from ladders, scaffolding, or cranes.
Disposal of waste materials (dust, scrap, varnishes or paints) could create environmental hazards. Failure to protect equipment, building materials, and property of others left at job sites from theft and vandalism may result in a subrogated loss.
Construction sites create attractive nuisance hazards, particularly to children who enjoy climbing and vandals after operations have ceased for the day and on weekends. Safety barriers such as perimeter fencing should be used to control access to the jobsite.
Contractual liability exposures are very high for general contractors. While it is important to control physical hazards, the key to successful performance is likely to be the management of contractual language.
Catastrophic financial losses and expensive litigation may arise if the general contractor fails to verify that subcontractors' certificates of insurance are accurate, and the limits are adequate for both liability and workers compensation coverages. In addition, the general contractor and project owner must be included as additional insureds on all subcontractors' policies.
The specific terms of the additional insured status may play a significant role in who pays for a loss.
Completed operations exposures are high due to the injury and property damage that can result from improper interpretation of building plans, use of materials that do not meet the quality standards required by design specifications, inadequate construction techniques, or lax supervision of the acts of subcontractors.
Quality control and full compliance with all construction, material, and design specifications are necessary. Inadequate monitoring of work orders and change orders may be a concern as poor record-keeping may necessitate payment of otherwise questionable claims. Inspection and written acceptance of the work by the owner or general contractor is critical.
Workers compensation exposures vary based on the size and nature of the job. When an executive supervisor is only reviewing and providing oversight, the exposure is clerical with some jobsite inspection. However, if actual construction work is done or supervisors remain at job sites continuously, the exposures increase to those encountered by each type of worker on the project.
Control of the jobsite is the responsibility of the general contractor, who may be held responsible for any injuries of subcontractors on the job. There should be strict enforcement of safety practices. Verification that every subcontractor carries adequate workers compensation coverage is important.
Property exposures at the contractor's own location are usually limited to that of an office. Ignition sources include electrical wiring, heating, and air conditioning systems. If the general contractor is a paper contractor, there will be no yard storage of building materials or equipment since there are no operations other than paperwork.
If the general contractor is involved in framework or masonry, lumber or bricks may be stored on site, increasing the exposure to fire, inclement weather, vandalism, and theft. Appropriate security measures should be in place to prevent unauthorized access.
Inland marine exposures include accounts receivable if the contractor bills customers for services, builders' risk, computers, and valuable papers and records for project plans, clients', subcontractors', and suppliers' information. Backup copies of all data, including building plans, should be stored off premises. Builders' risk is an important coverage.
Besides obtaining coverage for themselves, the contractor may need to coordinate their subcontractors' coverages and terms, so limits are adequate for the overall project. There may also be contractors' equipment for owned or rented items, goods in transit for materials transported to job sites, or installation exposures if materials to be installed are delivered to the site in advance.
Subcontractors generally have their own equipment with independent coverage. However, the general contractor may arrange for the lease of larger equipment, such as cranes, for subcontractors to use, either with or without operators. The contractual agreements between the general contractor and the rental firms determine who is responsible for any damage to the rented equipment.
Equipment may be subject to water hazards, overturns, drop, and fall from heights, or being struck by other vehicles. Materials and equipment left at job sites are subject to theft and vandalism loss. Equipment should be secured and rendered inoperable when not in use.
Crime exposures are from employee dishonesty, including theft of customers' goods by the insured's employee. Background checks, including criminal history, should be performed on all employees handling money. There must be a separation of duties between persons handling deposits and disbursements and reconciling bank statements.
Surety bond exposures can be high should the general contractor not comply with the terms of the contract with the customer, such as not completing the project, not completing it on time, or not paying for labor and supplies. The inability of the contractor to qualify for these bonds due to their prior experience and financial condition may indicate a moral hazard.
Commercial auto exposures may be limited to private passenger vehicles if executive supervisors simply travel from site to site. If the general contractor handles part of the construction, workers, equipment, and supplies may be transported to and from job sites.
Vehicles may have special modifications or built-in equipment such as lifts and hoists. Large materials such as air conditioners may be awkward and require special handling and tie-down procedures. Shifting of loads could result in overturn. If vehicles are provided to employees, there should be written procedures regarding personal use by employees and their family members.
All drivers must have appropriate licenses and acceptable MVRs. Random drug and alcohol testing should be conducted. Vehicles must be maintained, and the records kept in a central location.
Washington General Contractors Insurance - The Bottom Line
To find out more about the specific types of Washington general contractors insurance policies you'll need, how much coverage your GC business needs - speak with an experienced insurance broker.
Washington State Economic Outlook & Business Insurance Requirements
For anyone who is thinking about starting up a business, it is important that they choose a location that suites the industry that they wish to work in. With that said, in order to determine whether or not a location is the right choice for your business, you should have an idea about the state's economic status. You should also have an understanding of the WA state regulations related to the types of commercial insurance that you are required to carry.
If you are thinking about starting up a business in the State of Washington, below, we offer some insight into the state's economic status. We also offer a glimpse at the WA insurance requirements that business owners must abide by.
State Of The Economy In Washington
Washington state may be famous for its gloomy weather, but when it comes to the economy, things here look bright. The economic outlook for Washington is healthy. It is expected that there will be more jobs added in the 2022 calendar year. There will be an increase in the productivity of labor. There will also be an increase in the state's unemployment rate during the year 2022, with a forecasted rate of 4.7 percent.
Washington is regarded as one of the top for businesses in the nation. In fact, it is listed at the 11th best state for business by Forbes. The industry that is expected to see the most growth are related to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). Among the top industries in this state include information technology. Education, healthcare, finance, and travel and tourism also contribute largely to the awesome economy of this state.
Commercial Insurance Requirements In WA
The Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner regulates the insurance industry in WA. Businesses are legally required to carry workers' compensation insurance. This type of coverage is required for any business that employs either hourly or salaried employees, and either part-time or full-time employees. You are also required to carry commercial auto insurance if you use a vehicle to conduct any type of business in this state. That means that if you are using a car to transport goods, make deliveries, or meet with clients, you must carry business auto insurance.
While commercial general liability insurance is not required in Washington, it is highly recommended. This type of insurance offers protection from lawsuits and other legal fees that may arise.
Additional Resources For Construction Contractors Insurance
Learn about construction contractors insurance, including how much the premium costs and what is covered - and how business insurance can help protect your construction business from lawsuits.
- Blasting & Drilling Contractors
- Bridge Contractors
- Building Contractors
- Cable Layers
- Demolition Contractors
- Dock & Pier Contractors
- Dredging Contractors
- Foundation Layers
- General Contractors
- Road Contractors
- Sewer Contractors
- Steel Erection Contractors
- Surety Bonds
Construction contractors have substantial needs for many types of insurance coverage. Most would point to the importance of coverage for completed operations, premises liability coverage during construction operations at jobsites and professional or design errors and omissions insurance.
Such coverages can be provided only when the interests of the contractor and of the property owner are understood; particularly the contractual obligations assumed by the contractor. Next in significance is the workers compensation exposure followed by business automobile. Inland marine coverage for expensive mobile equipment, supplies, other tools of the trade and builders' risk can be vital.
Liability coverage is needed by a construction contractor in order to obtain most jobs. In addition, if a contractor wants to stay in business, it must be obtained to protect it from lawsuits due to its premises operations, off-site locations and products/completed operations exposures. Owners and contractors protective liability and railroad protective liability coverages may also be required in certain cases in order for a contractor to meets its obligations for particular jobs.
Many construction contractors do not have the usual location-specific buildings and business personal property exposures. Their business property is more mobile and, therefore, better covered with inland marine coverage forms. However, for those larger construction contractors that own buildings and/or maintain business inventory there are many coverage forms and choices available to them.
Construction contractors use their vehicles to get to and from their workplaces and jobsites. They also use vehicles to transport equipment and inventory to those locations. It is important to cover the liability of these vehicles for injury or damage they may cause, as well as to provide coverage for damage to the vehicles themselves.
Employers are required to provide coverage for injuries sustained by their employees while on the job. Construction contractors must comply with these requirements but some try to avoid them by hiring subcontractors. These subcontractors may actually operate and qualify as employees. The relationship between a contractor and its subcontractors must be carefully evaluated in order to determine if workers compensation coverage is still needed.
Minimum recommended small business insurance coverage: Business Personal Property, Employee Dishonesty, Surety Bonds, Accounts Receivable, Builders' Risk, Computers, Valuable Papers and Records, General Liability, Employee Benefits Liability, Umbrella Liability, Business Automobile Liability and Physical Damage, Hired and Nonowned Auto Liability & Workers Compensation.
Other commercial insurance policies to consider: Building, Business Income with Extra Expense, Earthquake, Flood, Leasehold Interest, Real Property Legal Liability, Contractors' Equipment, Goods in Transit, Installation Floater, Cyber Liability, Employment-related Practices Liability, Environmental Impairment Liability, Stop Gap Liability, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) (Drones).
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