Framing Contractor Insurance: What Should You Know?
Framing is a critical part of any construction project, from homes to large commercial buildings. It’s all about the details: precisely measuring, cutting, and assembling the frame. That means framers face unique pressures – and risks. Any issues with the quality of your workmanship can be a big problem, and there are also risks to your workers and job-site visitors. That makes framing contractor insurance especially important.
What is framing contractor insurance?
Framing contractor insurance is an essential tool for any business offering this service. It helps protect framing contractors from the financial and legal implications of their operations, including worker accidents, personal injury liability, property damage, and equipment damage. If any of these situations occur, your insurance policy will step in to cover the costs so you don’t have to pay out of pocket and weaken the profits of your business.
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Importance Of Framing Insurance
Framing contractors work from heights on unstable surfaces, and worker accidents happen all the time. Plus, the structure itself can become unsafe or injure the people inside the building. Framing insurance is essential to protect your business and also those who hire you.
Protects Against Unexpected Loss And Damage
Construction job sites have plenty of hazards that can result in accidents, equipment damage, and property damage. For example, an improperly secured joist could injure a worker or a visitor, leading to costly medical expenses and potential lawsuits. Job sites are also vulnerable to natural disasters, which can damage not only the structure but also your equipment.
Required For A Construction License
Laws around insurance for contractors vary by state, but many areas require that framing contractors have insurance before they can get a business license. And almost all states require any contractors with employees to have workers compensation insurance.
Reassures General Contractors And Clients
Carrying framing contractor insurance simply makes you look more professional. If you don’t have insurance and something goes wrong, your client or the general contractor who hired you could be left footing the bill. Having insurance shows you take risks seriously, and it can give peace of mind to those who hire you.
Types Of Framing Insurance
While construction insurance often has many of the same coverages, your exact policy can vary based on the risks involved in your particular trade. Here’s what framers generally need:
General Liability Insurance
General liability insurance covers costs like legal fees or medical expenses if you’re found liable for personal injury or property damage. For instance, if a heavy piece of wood falls and damages a client’s property, general liability insurance would likely cover the repair costs. Most clients and general contractors will want you to have this type of insurance before they work with you, and might even ask you for a certificate of liability insurance.
Workers Compensation Insurance
Workers compensation is one of the most important types of framing contractor insurance, and is required by most states. It covers medical bills and wage replacement for employees injured on the job. For example, if a worker falls from scaffolding and breaks their leg, workers comp could cover their hospital bills and part of their wages while they recover.
An installation floater is a type of inland marine insurance, which means it covers materials as they’re being transported over land. In this case, it covers your building materials while they’re in transit and on the job site, before they’re installed. Suppose a truck carrying custom-made window frames gets in an accident and the frames are damaged. The installation floater would cover the cost of replacement.
Contractor’s Equipment Insurance
Theft of tools and equipment is an unfortunate reality, and they can also easily be damaged while on a job site. Contractor’s tools and equipment insurance covers the replacement cost of tools and equipment you either own or rent. For example, if your tools are stolen from a secured job site, this policy would cover the cost of replacing those tools. It also covers your tools and equipment when they’re in storage at your own commercial property and in transit.
Commercial Auto Insurance
If you have business-owned vehicles, you’ll need this coverage as part of your framing insurance. Commercial auto insurance covers the cost of property damage or medical expenses in the event of an accident, for both your workers and third parties. For example, if a company truck gets in an accident while bringing workers to a job site, commercial auto insurance can help cover repair costs and medical bills.
Examples Of Framing Contractor Claims
Still not convinced you need framing contractor insurance? Here are some of the most common claims we see:
- On-Site Accidents: Accidents are common on all job sites, but especially in specialties that involve working from heights, like framing. Bypassers and visitors can be struck by falling objects, be hit by moving equipment, or trip and fall. A general liability policy would typically cover the costs of accidents like these.
- Employee Injuries: Worker accidents are also common in construction. If an employee suffers an injury, like a broken bone from a fall, your workers compensation insurance would help cover the cost of their medical treatment and time off work.
- Completed Work Claims: The frame of a building supports its entire weight – that’s a lot of pressure not only for the frame itself, but for the contractor. Suppose you finish a project, but six months later, the homeowner discovers structural issues due to faulty work. The homeowner could file a claim against you to repair the issues, which would be covered by your liability insurance.
- Vehicle-Related Incidents: Nearly all contractors use vehicles to transport materials, tools, equipment, and workers to and from a job site, and auto accidents are common. If a company vehicle causes an accident while on the job, you’ll be glad you have commercial auto insurance. If you let workers take company vehicles home with them, we also recommend creating policies around using them for personal reasons.
Insurance Challenges For Framing Contractors
While you definitely need framing insurance, there are some common challenges contractors face. Here’s what you should be prepared for.
- Limited Options: Insurance coverages are based on risk, and framing work is considered a high-risk occupation. Some insurance companies are reluctant to provide coverage or aren’t familiar with what you need. You might have to search a little harder to find a provider that understands framing contractor insurance.
- Exclusions: Insurance policies may exclude coverage for certain things, especially for high-risk businesses like framing. For example, a general liability policy might not cover pollution-related incidents, which could be an issue if you accidentally pollute a body of water, for example with tool lubricant or antifreeze.
- High Premiums: The high-risk nature of the job automatically makes your premiums higher. Other factors, like large-scale projects, a history of insurance claims against you, and your location, can also increase your premiums, which we’ll talk about next.
How much does framing insurance cost?
The cost of framing insurance is one of the biggest questions contractors have – but the answer isn’t always straightforward. The cost can depend on a few factors.
In general, state-specific laws affect the types of insurance you need as well as the costs of that insurance. Your climate also affects your rates: If your job sites tend to be in areas with natural disasters, like floods, earthquakes, or hurricanes, you can expect to pay more. High crime rates can make your commercial auto insurance and equipment insurance more expensive. And for auto insurance, your premiums can also be higher if you’re in a high-traffic area like a city.
The Size And Age Of Your Business
Newly established businesses may start out with higher rates because they don’t have a history for the insurance provider to look at: They simply haven’t yet proven that they operate safely. Businesses with many employees or large-scale contracts may also have higher rates, because the more employees and job sites you have, the greater the chance of an accident.
Your Claims History
Once you’ve been in business for a few years, the framing insurance provider can get a better idea of how high-risk your operations are. If you’ve never had a claim filed against you, your rates will stay low. But if you develop a record of multiple accidents and claims, that tells providers you don’t operate safely, and they’ll charge you more.
How To Get The Best Insurance Rates
It may be a high-risk industry, but framing contractor insurance doesn’t have to break the bank. A little preparation can go a long way when you’re comparing quotes.
Ensure correct classification
Ensuring that your business is correctly classified on your policy can prevent issues down the line. For example, being classified as “interior carpentry” when you should be a “framing contractor” might be cheaper at first. But if a claim is brought against you for something that isn’t covered, or if the insurer discovers the misclassification, you’ll be facing some unexpected costs.
Review your policy exclusions and limitations
Like your classification, understanding the details of your policy is critical to avoid the unexpected. For instance, construction policies often exclude subcontracted work, which could be a problem if you frequently use subcontractors. Many framing contractor insurance policies also exclude work on apartment complexes, condos, and townhomes. If you do this type of work, you should know if this exclusion is on your policy or not.
Have a robust employee safety program
Workers compensation is almost always the most expensive part of framing insurance. A strong safety program can help prevent accidents and reduce insurance claims, and that could lower your premiums. Holding regular safety training sessions can help employees understand the risks associated with their job and how to mitigate them.
Prepare a comprehensive resume
If your business is relatively new, create a detailed resume for insurers showing your experience, skills, safety certifications, and any specialized training. That helps them better understand your risk profile and could get you better insurance coverages and pricing.
The Bottom Line
Framing is considered a high-risk trade, and insurance for these contractors reflects the liability that providers are taking on. While it might seem like you need a lot of different types of insurance – and at a high cost – in the construction industry, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. Working with an experienced framing contractor insurance provider like LandesBlosch can help you get the coverage you need at the best possible price. Get a quote online today, and we’ll be in touch to build you the perfect policy.
About The Author: Austin Landes, CIC
Austin is an experienced Commercial Risk Advisor specializing in property & casualty risk management for religious institutions, real estate, construction, and manufacturing.
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