Page 16 - Alabama 811 Magazine 2022 Issue 3
P. 16

It’s All About the Coverages... or
I Paid For That Liability Insurance. Why Didn’t It Pay My Claim??
By: Virginia Reames The Policy Center
All liability policies are not the same. Absolutely, definitely, positively not. Policies are getting more specific with each year that passes. Price shopping from agent to agent is not in your best interest anymore. Buying an insurance policy just to get the bid is going to blow up in your face if there’s a claim your bargain policy won’t pay for. You really need an agent who has a lot of customers that do pretty much what you do. Asking a friend or two in your line of work —or even a competitor —who their agent is might help you avoid learning the hard way why an excavator’s policy has different language than a car dealer’s policy. It’s all about the coverages – what is covered and what’s excluded (not covered).
Companies that write a lot of those in the building trades have special items written into their policies that apply to what YOU are doing — not the flower shop or car dealer down the street. You are not paying extra for these coverages like you would if you had a run-of-the- mill policy that you had to endorse (add) these items onto. The premium might be higher going in, but you won’t save anything with the low-priced model.
When you get a job from a major construction company, they will require a Certificate of Insurance with certain
specific language, and you will not begin work until they get it. This specific language is what you may have to add to your El Cheapo policy: Blanket Waiver of Subrogation, Blanket Additional Insured, the list goes on. And on. And, by the way, there’s a charge for each item added. And, by the way, there’s
my personal favorite — “the company won’t add a Blanket Waiver...” Well, now what?
That policy you thought was cheaper just became much more expensive when you get through paying for those additional coverages for that one job like it all year is going to require. (No, you can’t remove it later, either, and get a refund. And no, you didn’t price for it, either, did you?)
But one of the most critical things you want to be absolutely certain is not contained in your policy is the dreaded XCU – Explosion & Underground Collapse. That means, basically, no coverage for excavation if underground lines are damaged. If you are doing excavation, you’re not covered if this Exclusion is present. (And if your policy is written through El Cheapo Company, Inc., it will definitely be in there!)
Let’s assume you don’t have that XCU exclusion – you’re all good, right?
Did you call 811? Get a ticket? Wait the
required time? Dig carefully? If so, yes, you are basically good to go.
If you failed to call 811 in compliance with your state law, and you hit a line and get billed for the damages (rather than blown up!) —you will probably have to come out of pocket. Most states now have laws requiring that you call and get a ticket. If you are in violation of the law, your insurance company will view this as “expected or intended,” and nope, they won’t pay. Companies are getting more and more sensitive to these laws as they get put on the books, so don’t be surprised if your adjuster has a whole new set of questions for you on his checklist.
Did you call, but dig before the required time was up? Nope –they won’t pay. Same reason. That waiting period is for all of the utilities to be able to mark their lines where you have indicated that you will be digging. So, if you didn’t allow them time to mark their lines and you hit them — get your checkbook. (If you dig where they are assumed to be, but are not marked yet [the operative word] you can see where it might be “expected,” can’t you?)
If you do what you’re required to do, and IF you have a policy designed for what you do, you will be covered. A VW Beetle will never, ever turn into a Cadillac at the time of an accident.
14 • Alabama 811 2022, Issue 3

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