Monday, June 2, 2014

Guest Blog: 7 Insurance Tips for Vermont Contractors

Insurance is important, especially when you run your own business. As a contractor in Vermont it is important to have the correct insurance to cover you for liability as well as any state and county requirements in your area to maintain proper licensing. With so many things to worry about, it's important to get everything right the first time. Arm yourself with these 7 tips to understand insurance and liability for contractors.

1. Verify Licenses. Make sure your current contractor licenses are up to date. Failure to maintain a valid license for your profession can result in fines, loss of business, and cancellation of insurance policies. In addition, make sure those you hire have valid licenses. Professional services like architects, engineers, and surveyors should have credentials on file with the Vermont Secretary of State.

2. Require it in Writing. Written contracts are immensely important when it comes to protecting you from legal hazards. Require contracts for all of your business, and hold onto these records for at least three years. Use an attorney to review contracts and warrants, don't just guess and hope things will work out okay. When hiring a subcontractor, you will want to make sure you are not held liable for any of their mistakes. Have your attorney create clauses that includes holding you harmless, indemnify, and limiting liability. If you yourself are the subcontractor, you will likewise want to have a contract defining what is your responsibility and what is that of the general contractor.

3. Prevent Job Losses While Working. The best insurance rates are always offered to those with great safety ratings. Take care to prevent accidents and equipment loss. Conduct safety inspections and educate your employees. Post written instructions and reminders, and always use the recommended safety equipment.

4. Follow OSHA Rule0s. In addition to basic safety steps, follow the rules laid out by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration. If you are in doubt about any rules or regulations, check online. Make sure to follow the OSHA best practices such as having MSDS sheets for all chemicals on hand. Failure to comply can result in fines, loss of business, and loss of insurance coverage also.

5. Limit Liability. Many different things can go wrong on a construction site. Limit your liability by blocking access to the general public and working to prevent loss. In addition, you will need construction liability insurance. These are policies specifically designed for a limited time during your build, and are available in different amounts based on type of accident and protection against natural disasters like fire and flooding.

6. Careful on the Road. Most contracting jobs will require some travel. Whether you are using a single truck, or a series of large construction vehicles it is important to have commercial auto insurance. Run background checks on your drivers. Perform regular vehicle maintenance. Also remember to slow down and be careful.

7. Purchase Extra Insurance. Every job is different, so it's important to recognize when risks are greater than usual. If a job involves excessive heights or specialty tools, you should check your policy to make sure these dangers are included. If they are not, purchase additional insurance specifically covering this liability. The same idea applies to working around artwork and antiques with a non-standard value.

The importance of insurance protection for your business is paramount. Learn more about commercial business insurance in the Vermont area online. 

Holden Financial Services, Inc. is a BBB Accredited Business located in Middlebury, VT and Rutland, VT. They have been Accredited since 2013.

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