(L-R) are Ken Buettner, York Scaffold Equipment Corp.; Robert Trager, Vanguard Coverage/Acrisure; John Pantanelli, NYC Special Riggers Association; Barry Lovell, Lovell Safety Management; and Chris D’Agostino, Lovell.
Install a rigorous safety program and buy into it 100 percent. Bulletproof your contracts. Use creative underwriting and employ strong broker/client relationships.
These were some of the key pieces of advice speakers offered contractors seeking ways to manage and mitigate soaring insurance costs at the New York City Special Riggers Association (NYCSRA)'s first insurance seminar, presented on June 15, sponsored and hosted by Vanguard/Acrisure at the NY LaGuardia Airport Marriott.
Insurance premiums affect contractors of all sizes from Mom and Pop shops to large corporations, said Joseph Sforzo, CEO and founder of Vanguard, who introduced the forum.
“We want you to build your business, build your dreams — and have the proper coverage to be protected,” said Sforzo.
Vanguard's Salvatore D. Alimonda noted that trade-contractors with annual revenues grossing under $5M are subject to the same minimum premium payments as for larger companies.
He acknowledged that while there is no magic “rate ball,” some steps may prove beneficial to control costs.
“Submission quality is crucial. While it is still a relationship oriented industry, there are some illustrative elements that are traditionally omitted from a 'standard submission' that could sway a decision for more favorable terms or rate consideration in your favor,” said Alimonda, advising all to talk to their brokers, and request underwriter involvement before program development.
He advised project managers to build a narrative that details a company's safety program, OSHA certifications and all efforts to mitigate occurrences.
“As a high quality contract should decrease potential liabilities, work with specialized attorneys and brokerage firms to help further insulate indemnities and contracts with end-result being another party's loss experience, not yours.”
Tolerance of higher deductibles may be advisable, said Alimonda. In an effort to reduce bid-rate/insurance costs, companies with $10M+ revenues coupled with good risk transfer may be able to tolerate “skin in the game” aka a $50,000 deductible, yet this approach may not be practical for firms prone to a higher frequency of incident due to third party traffic or higher volume of subs.
Workers' compensation was explored by Barry Lovell, president of Lovell Safety Management Co. LLC, who led off by saying that accident avoidance is key: Reduce workers comp losses and you'll pay less.
He noted that frequency is penalized more harshly than severity in the experience modification formula, so companies must make sure their accident/injury history is accurate.
A comprehensive and effective safety program is the chief component in reducing costs said Robert DeMarco, director of safety, S & E Bridge & Scaffold, Swing Staging and managing member Swing Staging Training & Safety who advised contractors to install a program and commit to it 100 percent.
“It's never too late — it all starts with your outlook,” said DeMarco.
Begin by appointing a safety director who will set goals and dates when initiatives much be accomplished; determine a hazards checklist and evaluate results; manage safety daily regarding injuries and lost time; invest in the latest PPE (personal protective equipment.)
The installation of a safety program must be viewed as stringently as any other system and the bar must be set high to set the company apart. The program must be incorporated into the company culture — employees should be encouraged to ask questions. Ensure top management's full support as adherence emanates from the top down.
“Since insurance and workers comp issues are high priorities for construction contractors, the NYCSRA presented the program as part of its efforts to act as a resource serving the needs and interests of its members,” said NYCSRA president John Pantanelli.
The NYCSRA is an organization that is dedicated to keeping its membership updated on safety trends and methods, including but not limited to NYC Department of Building/OSHA code changes and compliance, with emphasis on the safety of workers as well as the general public of NYC.
For more information, visit http://nycsra.org/.