Safety program benefits contracting businesses

Aug. 7, 2014
Have a conversation with your insurance agent, who will ask you some general questions about safety.  It will take a bit of formalization and consistency to execute a safety program.   Programs can be simple and low-cost, or they can be a company investment that results in multiple benefits.

Don’t get caught with your hand in the tip jar! Like the infamous George Costanza scene in Seinfeld, good deeds often go unnoticed. When the deli man turns away just as George is putting his tip in the jar, George, of course, tries to retrieve his tip and gets caught. A hilarious exchange ensues, but the moral of the story is that George wanted credit for his good deed.

Unlike George, you can take credit for the good you do by simply telling the right people. Start with your insurance agent. There are lots of ways to maximize your insurance and minimize the cost. Your general liability insurance is based on five key factors: 1.) the industry in which you do business; 2.) the size of your business; 3.) the insurance marketplace; 4.) past claims history; and 5.) safety programs.

You’ll easily achieve No. 4 if you do No. 5. Executing a strong safety program can feel overwhelming, but if you think about it, you probably already have a foundation in place. Have a conversation with your insurance agent, who will ask you some general questions about safety.  You may find that all it will take is a bit of formalization and consistency to execute a program. 

Steve Moon of Moon Services Heating and Air Conditioning admitted he thought it simply made good business sense to take his trucks off the road for eight days of bad weather this past winter. 

“I would rather have zero sales for a day than have an injured employee or a vehicle in an accident,” he said. 

Indeed, this made good business sense. What made even better sense was to list it as a safety program and get a credit on the business liability insurance. Moon Services already runs a comprehensive safety program that includes thoroughly training the technicians in everything from how to place a ladder to recognizing heat stroke. Moon holds weekly safety meetings for employees and uses text messages to communicate reminders like keeping hydrated in the summer months.

“Our employees are working in attics in the summer months where it can be 140°F or higher.  It’s important that they immediately recognize the signs of heat stroke,” Moon said. All of this helped Moon Services keep its insurance premiums low. How? They told their insurance agent about their good deeds.

Sherry Crow of Smith & Rawlings had employees sign an agreement that they would not park company vehicles under trees during the winter months, in an effort to prevent damaging ice from falling onto a vehicle. She had fewer claims for ice damage last year than any other. By communicating this, she was able to receive a significant credit on her liability insurance, and maintain a low claim rate.  

If you’re unsure where to start for a safety program that can have an impact on your insurance premiums, ask your insurance agent. Programs can be simple and low-cost, or they can be a company investment that results in multiple benefits. For Hayden Mechanical Services, installing GPS devices in every service vehicle was well worth the investment. The system helps with directions and can pinpoint the vehicle’s location, but the driving speed can also be monitored for safety. The company’s coordinator communicates by pager to the technicians to alert them of traffic disturbances or accidents, saving valuable time. 

In addition, Hayden Mechanical Services holds regular safety meetings to emphasize safety on the job – from wearing eye-protecting goggles to a no-phone-while-driving rule. By communicating all of these programs to their insurance agent, Hayden Mechanical Services experienced reduced insurance premiums along with the efficiency of the GPS devices.   

A good agent should be asking you the right questions to learn everything about your business and provide support where possible. A simple e-mail about the dangers of parking under ice-laden trees reminds clients to communicate to their teams. If you don’t have the time or inclination to do the communication, then hire someone to do it for you, or enlist your insurance agent. Whether it’s a weekly meeting, a monthly newsletter or a quarterly pay check stuffer, the time and money are worth the returns.  Just don’t forget to tell someone about it. 

Matthew Stangle is vice president of the Risk Management Division at Insurance Force, where he leads and manages the Property and Casualty Insurance Division. He focuses on understanding the unique risks of each business, reviewing clients’ insurance programs and educating them about ways to manage their risks. His seven years in the insurance industry includes experience at WSMT Insurance, prior to Insurance Force. 

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