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Five Key Elements to Look for ...

Before hiring any subcontractor, you as the general contractor (GC) should make sure you have two important documents in hand. The first is a signed contract between you and your subcontractor which will spell out the particulars of your working relationship. The second is a valid certificate of insurance (COI) that provides evidence that the subcontractor is properly insured. While the contract has likely been drafted by your attorney and contains standard language that remains constant from one contract to the next, you should review each COI carefully to make sure the sub is in compliance with the terms of the contract as they relate to insurance. In fact, you should pay particularly close attention to the following five key elements:

  1. The subcontractor must carry general liability insurance, and the coverage amount needs to meet at least the minimum required in the contract (typically at least $1,000,000 per occurrence).
  2. The subcontractor needs to carry worker’s compensation insurance, even if that subcontractor is a sole proprietor or LLC member.
  3. You are named as an additional insured under the policy for both ongoing and completed operations on a primary and noncontributory basis. This information is typically found in an open description section in the bottom third of the COI where comments can be In both cases the endorsement adding the coverage should be referenced and attached.
  4. The COI should state that the subcontractor will waive subrogation against you. This prevents the subcontractor’s insurer from going after your insurance company once the claim is settled to recover some or all of the money paid to the claimant.
  5. The subcontractor must carry commercial automobile insurance with limits of at least $1,000,000.

Important to note: You should only accept a COI that is emailed or mailed directly from the subcontractor’s agent. It should not be accepted if it is delivered by the subcontractor. 

Also important to note: Not all insurance brokers are familiar with the subtle nuances of construction insurance and how to create a proper insurance program for the construction trade. As a leading construction insurance brokerage firm with decades of experience, Mason & Mason routinely reviews COIs to ensure they are in compliance with our GCs respective contracts. In turn, our knowledgeable professionals can assist subcontractors with their insurance needs to make sure they have the right policies in place with the right amount of coverage at a fair price. If you have questions about your COI ask your account manager about the Mason & Mason Contractor Assurance Program for subcontractors.

What is a Hold Harmless Agreement ...

As a general contractor, you are hired to get the job done right, on time and on budget. Yet, from the moment you accept the job until well after completion, you are exposing yourself to significant risk, both from the work done by your employees and the work done by your subcontractors. By using a properly executed hold harmless agreement with insurance requirements between you and your subcontractors, the subcontractors and their insurance companies will have agreed to accept your liability for the work the subcontractor did on the job site.

What is a hold harmless agreement?

Simply put, a hold harmless agreement is a contract between you and your subcontractors that states that they are responsible for the cost of bodily injury or property damage that arises out of their ongoing and completed operations. Not only that, a well-constructed hold harmless agreement will require the subcontractor’s insurance policy to recognize you as an additional insured for ongoing and completed operations should a lawsuit be filed naming you as a responsible party.

Why do you need one?

Let’s take a look at some common scenarios where hold harmless agreements came into play.

  1. A new homeowner notices a leak in her lower-level ceiling and after an inspection, it is discovered that the flooring installer put a nail through the radiant floor heating pipe. The homeowner sues the general contractor for the cost of the repairs. A signed hold harmless agreement between the GC and the sub will require the responsible subcontractor to cover the damages from his or her company’s work.
  2. A roofer falls off a ladder and suffers injuries that not only cause hospitalization, but they also prevent him from returning to work. The hold harmless agreement should require the subcontractor to provide the GC with proof of a valid worker’s compensation policy. It should also require the sub to carry general liability, business auto, and umbrella policies, etc.
  3. If that injured roofer decides to sue the GC for negligence in failing to provide a safe workplace, the hold harmless and indemnification wording in the subcontractor agreement can transfer the liability from the GC back to the subcontractor’s general liability insurance.

A hold harmless agreement not only protects the general contractor from its subcontractors’ negligence, but it also helps subcontractors ensure they have a minimum standard of liability limits should a claim arise. The proper hold harmless agreement will spell out exactly what type of insurance is required and minimum limits, thereby reducing the GC’s exposure in case of a loss.

At Mason & Mason, we have found that one consistent point about hold harmless agreements: each one is different. We encourage our clients to consult an attorney before constructing or signing a hold harmless agreement to make sure the agreement will both hold up in the court of law and to make sure the agreement is fair to both parties.

Rear End Collisions—How to Avoid Hitting ...

Perhaps the most preventable and inexcusable accident is caused by backing into a parked auto or a fixed object. You should never commit this type of error as a professional driver.

To keep from hitting someone in the rear:

  • Begin braking early—for reserve braking power as you near final stopping point.
  • Pay strict attention—Don’t daydream or look away from the road for more than one second. Keep in mind that a vehicle can move a considerable distance in one second. For example, at 40 mph, a vehicle travels 60 feet in one second.
  • Use good vision habits—Don’t crowd up so close that you can’t see ahead. Look through rear window area of vehicle ahead to see the road ahead. Look over the top of car ahead when on hills.
  • Look for things that could cause the driver ahead to stop—The other driver’s problems become your problems only a second or two later.
  • On icy roads, look for a swerve path to the right—Many times on ice you can steer around a vehicle that you could not stop for. Avoid swerving to the left—you’re inviting a head-on. Better yet, you won’t need a swerve path at all if you increase your following distance to allow for road conditions and weather.
  • Be patient—The hurry habit is the beginning of many a rear end mash-up. Stay Alert For Danger Signals Some signals to watch for:
  • Brake lights on the vehicle ahead— Get your foot off the gas pedal and to the brake pressure point quickly.
  • Diminishing distance between your vehicle and the vehicle ahead— You’re in a collision course. The vehicle on the road ahead is slowing down or it may be standing. Relate vehicles ahead to fixed objects out to the side.
  • Problems in adjacent lanes— Stay alert for brake lights and slow downs in adjacent lanes. Expect quick swerves into your lane by other drivers.

The recommendation(s), advice and contents of this material are provided for informational purposes only and do not purport to address every possible legal obligation, hazard, code violation, loss potential or exception to good practice. The Hanover Insurance Company and its affiliates and subsidiaries (“The Hanover”) specifically disclaim any warranty or representation that acceptance of  any recommendations or advice  contained herein will make any premises, property or operation safe or in compliance with any law or regulation. Under no circumstances should this material or your acceptance of any recommendations or advice contained herein be construed as establishing the existence or availability of any insurance coverage with The Hanover. By providing this information to you, The Hanover does not assume (and specifically disclaims) any duty, undertaking or responsibility to you. The decision to accept or implement any recommendation(s) or advice contained in this material must be made by you.
LC 11-389