Business Automobile Insurance

Consideration for a commercial auto policy doesn’t start and end with insuring your vehicle for physical damage. Other critical issues related to automobiles arise out of your business operations, including liability for bodily injury and property damage as well as liability related to vehicles you borrow or hire.

For the last four decades Mason & Mason has helped business owners manage risk related to the autos they own or hire. We write a wide range of policy types from coverage for single trucks registered to contractors to programs that cover the legal liability of auto dealers through our Garage Keepers program. We’ve also helped the owners of large vehicle fleets find coverage and manage their risk accordingly.

With the introduction of our mobile app, the drivers of your vehicles can now have an electronic copy of the Auto ID card available on their smartphone in states where that is accepted. In the event of an accident, that same app can be used to capture photos and get the claims process started.

Contractors & Subcontractors Insurance Program Team

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"One of the things we love about this agency is that they don’t try to sell you. They want  their clients to be informed so they can make the best decision with the right coverage, and with Mason and Mason, we always get detailed, personalized, honest service."


Almar Building & Remodeling Co.

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Who’s Your Star?

Small and medium-sized businesses often have employees that are “stars.” Sometimes the star is the CEO or president, other times there is a salesperson who consistently outsells every other sales team member by a two to one margin. Maybe you’re a software company that has a star coder whose ideas led to your product being a number one editor’s choice. The point is that most companies have an employee or two that helps their business thrive. What happens to your business in the short-term if a star employee, referred to by the insurance industry as a “key man,” dies?

According to a study conducted by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC), only 22% of small businesses carry this type of coverage.

Death is an issue that most people do not like discussing, so many small and medium-sized businesses do not have detailed succession plans, and key person life insurance remains an unresolved issue. It is a discussion that helps your company survive the difficult times that can follow the death of a key person.

What is Key Person Life Insurance?

Key man life insurance protects a business from economic loss relating to the death of a key employee. The company buys the insurance, owns the policy, and is the beneficiary of the policy in the event of the sudden death of the insured. Payment from the insurance company to the business is a lump sum, and there are no restrictions on how the company can use the money. Most companies use the money to stabilize the business until they find the key person’s replacement.

Types of Key man Life Insurance

Businesses gravitate to two kinds of policies for key employee life insurance.

Term Life Insurance. Startups favor this type of policy. Startups always try to conserve cash, term life insurance is cheaper than any other kind of personal life insurance.

Policies that build cash value. Whole life or universal life insurance builds cash value that increases the cash value of the policy and is an asset on the company’s book. The company can get access to the excess cash value of the policy at any time for any purpose since the money from the cash buildup belongs to them.

Life insurance premiums vary between companies and smart companies comparison shop for the best insurance program.

The discussion is uncomfortable, but if you do not have key man insurance, it’s worth talking about.


Handling Lead and Asbestos and Other ...

If you work in construction, it’s not uncommon to encounter asbestos, lead, and other hazardous materials on a remodeling or deconstruction job. When that does happen, here are the appropriate steps you’re going to want to take:

Clear the Area

If you find asbestos in a home, you’ll want to clear the area right away. Lead exposure can take years to create any lasting damage in the human body, but even mild exposure to asbestos can be dangerous.

Report

As soon as possible, report your findings to the proper authorities. In more cases than not, this will be the EPA. False alarms do happen, it’s not uncommon for some other material to be mistaken for asbestos, but the EPA will typically have some tests conducted in order to determine what it is that you’re dealing with. You’ll also want to let your client know that anyone who has been living or working in the building has potentially been exposed to the hazardous material.

For Asbestos and Other Hazards: Get a Professional

If you’re removing asbestos, you need to be certified, and if you are certified, you still need to report to the proper authorities that you’re going to be taking asbestos out of an old home.

If you would like to get certified to remove asbestos in order to prevent any findings from slowing a construction job down too much, you can get started at the EPA website. https://www.epa.gov/asbestos/training

For Lead: Proceed With Caution

You can remove lead on your own in most states with or without certification, but it can be a tricky process. Make sure that anyone involved in the job is wearing a dust mask, goggles and gloves, and be sure to clear the area to ensure that lead dust doesn’t get on anything. Sweep and clean the area thoroughly when you’re done.

Replace

Asbestos is more troublesome than it’s worth, but it is very good at one thing: preventing fire damage. It is nearly impossible to get the stuff to burn. Following the removal of any hazardous building material, you have to take a moment to consider why it was installed in the first place. Lead pipes are easy enough to replace with PVC, while asbestos removal should be followed up with the installation of something to replace it, like fiber-cement siding.

Finally: You’ll want to keep an eye on the health of yourself and your crew. The real threat is prolonged exposure, and most remodeling jobs are over and done with by the time the effects of exposure to hazardous materials can really be felt, but as always, it’s better to be safe than sorry.


Why You Should Use Hold Harmless ...

We frequently receive inquiries from contractors pertaining to contractual insurance requirements and how to obtain “additional insured” status on a policy.  We’ve learned throughout the years that the answer is not always the same.  Insurance forms read differently, and then can change as soon as you think you know them.

However the forms may read, there are some “best practices” you should adhere to when hiring subcontractors, or when you are accepting a job as a subcontractor:

Use a Contract

If you hire subcontractors, you already require them to sign a hold harmless agreement to protect yourself from covered losses arising out of their ongoing and completed operations.  These contracts should contain properly worded indemnification and additional insured requirements for the subcontractor’s insurance to recognize you as an insured, and to cover you.

Many insurers use additional insured forms that contain language similar to, “additional insured status when required by written contract or agreement.”  Some go as far as requiring an “executed” contract prior to the commencement of work.  It’s imperative for general contractors to have a signed contract before a subcontractor begins work in order to obtain additional insured status.

See our article “Recommended Procedures & Documentation When Hiring Subcontractors” for more information on contractual insurance requirements.

Read the Contract and Understand What You are Agreeing to

If you are a subcontractor, read the contract the general contractor presents to you.  Understand what you are promising when you agree to the terms and conditions of the contract.  We have seen contracts ask for more than what standard insurance forms will actually do.

If you are a subcontractor of a subcontractor, be sure to obtain and read the prime contract between the general contractor and the subcontractor who is hiring you.  You may be agreeing to the terms and conditions in that contract as well.

Sign the Contract

Some courts have determined that subcontractors “agreed” to provide the contractual additional insured requirement by beginning work.  However, when the subcontractor caused or contributed to a loss on the job, their insurance did not respond to recognize the general contractor as an additional insured because of the absence of a previously signed (relative to the claim) or “executed” contract.  This left the general contractor exposed to cover the cost of defense and indemnification with their own resources, then sued the subcontractor for a “breach of contract.”

 

Mason & Mason is an insurance agency.  We are not members of the Massachusetts Bar Association, the information above is for informational purposes only.  We strongly suggest you consult an attorney before making any decision on the wording and/or use of legal contract documents.