Jobsite Safety
Avoiding Insurance Pitfalls
Photo: iStockphoto.comCourtesy of Builders Insurance Group

This series on jobsite safety has emphasized that the key ingredients that ensure safe practices for your company happen before you get to the jobsite. They take place in the owner’s office—or the boardroom—with the decision to place a priority on safety as basic company policy. Instead of saving pennies on the front end by pushing jobs through without the necessary safety training and equipment, the owners decide to save dollars on the back end by demonstrating to their employees that they value their lives and their work and by avoiding financially devastating accidents. These foundational decisions by the owners are then developed company-wide into ongoing training programs and jobsite practices. As the company develops a culture of safety, the relationship with OSHA changes from that of being an adversary to that of a resource. By putting all of these resources together you can transform your workers’ environment from being one of the most dangerous occupations to being relatively safe. But because of the nature of the work, it will never be totally safe. Those things that make the job interesting—moving massive amounts of dirt, powerful tools, working with heights—also make it intrinsically dangerous. The possibility of an accident is always there. That’s why you cover that possibility with insurance.

Just as with safety policy, the approach to insurance is determined by the owner from the top. As owner, do you treat insurance as a way to protect your employees and your business, or as a necessary evil? If you are in the former category, you’ll research your insurance options to make sure you are working with a company that fully serves its clients and provides adequate coverage. If you see insurance as a necessary evil, you’ll simply look for the cheapest policy allowed by law. Or, more likely, you won’t do anything. You will just delegate it to “the office” and let them handle it without even learning the basics for yourself. This latter approach is a missed opportunity to let your employees know that you do care about their well-being while on the job. By passing the task off and not even learning the basics, you may also be risking the future success of your business. If you do your due diligence and learn the basics, you may be able to avoid some common insurance pitfalls.

BUYING INSURANCE

Insurance is provided by a “carrier” and sold through “agents.” For personal insurance (e. g. auto, home) most often the agents are “direct writers” and are employees of the carrier (e. g. Allstate, State Farm, etc.) whose insurance they are selling. This is the most common arrangement for personal insurance and works well in that arena.