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Construction Insurance Bulletin

Service or Completed Operations: define your business

By September 5, 2014No Comments

The construction business evolved over the past many years to a more brokered business. Thirty years ago a general contractor landed on a site with a dozen workers to build most of a building. Now, specialists combine to do everything from site clearing to painting stripes on the parking lot.

The general contractor and some of the subcontractors handle paperwork, verify completion, and handle payments to subcontractors. They’ve become service companies rather than construction companies. Construction managers rather than builders.

Insurance recognizes this change as moving from a completed operations liability risk to a professional liability driven risk. So, what does that mean to you?

General liability insurance covers the site premises and the process of physically building a structure. Professional liability covers issues concerning planning, designing, verifying designs and plans, surveying, advising, coordinating and most compliance. The two policies do not overlap in any significant way.

Even if you are not technically a design build firm, if you verify design, or if you interpret the design in any way to build, or if you substitute or allow the substitution of materials or products to build, you are redesigning the building.

Under current energy codes, energy to light a room is restricted. If you substitute or allow to substitute a less energy efficient or higher wattage light fixture for a more expensive, hard to find specified fixture, you changed the energy design, the functioning of the energy system, and will fail to meet compliance with the energy code on commissioning. Sounds harsh, but that is today’s professional liability risk.

Rethink your procedures beginning with the decision: which type of business do we want to be?

If you want to build structures, consider a protocol which sends a “verify the source” request for information on unknown or unfamiliar materials or products. And think about getting some professional liability insurance anyway for those unusual field decisions made to expedite completed operations.