Contractors Insurance No Comments

Winter Construction: Your Essential Prep List

Winter is coming. And for contractors that may be troublesome news. After the first snow roofers, building contractors and even some general contractors may decide to close up their operations until spring and pray for a short winter. Others may try to tough it out and work through the freezing cold and the snow. Whichever option you decide upon will carry considerable risk for your small business over the next couple months. Working during the winter could result in an increase in injuries and accidents while not working at all could put serious financial strain on you and your employees. Winter is rough, but it should not have to be. Listed below are a few ways to prepare you for winter construction and beat the inevitable cold. Read more

Collin McGorty No Comments

New Law to Minimize Health Hazards in Construction

health hazards in construction

There are many risks involved with being a contractor doing any type of construction.  As such, liability insurance and health concerns are a very controversial and heavily covered topic in both the media and blogs.  The reason for this is mainly to raise awareness of the dangers and help as many people as possible by preventing illness and injury.  One proponent of raising the health standards for contractors is OSHA and they are currently working on a proposal to decrease the number of people affected by crystalline silica – a small respirable particle capable of causing silicosis, lung cancer, chronic obtrusive pulmonary disease and kidney disease.  This harmful inhalant is given off when materials such as brick, stone, rock, concrete, and cement are cut, grinded, or drilled through by power tools.  It is 100 times smaller than ordinary sand.

While this proposal is nowhere near being finalized, OSHA is encouraging the public to raise awareness and submit comments to officials in public hearings.  Healthy working conditions for employees and employers is a feat they believe to be of the utmost importance.

According to Dr. David Michaels, the Assistant Secretary of OSHA, “Exposure to silica can be deadly, and limiting that exposure is essential. Every year, many exposed workers not only lose their ability to work, but also to breathe. This proposal is expected to prevent thousands of deaths from silicosis – an incurable and progressive disease – as well as lung cancer, other respiratory diseases, and kidney disease. Workers affected by silica are fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers lost to entirely preventable illnesses. We’re looking forward to public comment on the proposal.”

According to studies performed by OSHA, the proposed rule would save over 700 people annually and prevent 1,600 new cases of silicosis at the same time, once put into effect.  The results of the study were shared once analysis was made.  The data was collected from small businesses and industry giants and after careful consideration it was decided that the 40 year old standards no longer protect workers at an acceptable level.

Safety is one thing that directly affects insurance rates for small business liability, workers comp, and commercial auto.  By adhering to the most up to date standards in the contracting industry you can help minimize your costs long term  Contact our insurance professionals today if you have any questions regarding insurance rates.

Collin McGorty No Comments

How to Defend Against Construction Defect Claims

Construction Defect Claim

According to IRMI, construction defect is defined as, “a deficiency in the design or construction of a building or structure resulting from a failure to design or construct in a reasonably workmanlike manner, and/or in accordance with a buyer’s reasonable expectation. The most dangerous defects have the capacity to fail, resulting in physical injury or damage to people or property. However, many defects present no increased risk of injury or damage to other property but nevertheless cause harm to the property owner in the form of loss of use, diminution in value, and extra expenses incurred while defects are corrected.”  When someone is injured as a result of a construction defect, they can make a claim against the construction company responsible for performing the work.

There is only one surefire effective way to protect yourself from a claim.  Only by maintaining and organizing complete records of the construction project can you protect yourself from insurance claims against your organization.  One of the most important records in this effort would be schedules and cost estimates.  By keeping track of quality control documents, procedures, and field activity you can establish a list which will be beneficial in your defense.  Other documents to be included are change orders, meeting minutes, field diaries, inspection reports, e-mails, and product cut sheets.

The more details you can provide the stronger your defense will be.  Also keep track of any issues that arise, conversations you have with property owners about the various issues, and a list of which employees worked on said problem.  We know that construction Defect Claims are a real part of doing business and as a construction contractor it is your duty to learn and understand what you can do to protect your business and its longevity.

Collin McGorty No Comments

Reevaluating NY Building Code & Requirements

NY Building Code

In a response to hurricane sandy, the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies called for a revision in the NY building code.  The task force oversaw recovery effects from Sandy and has since suggested that our nation adopt a stronger building code that promote stronger and safer construction.  This effort would decrease the total damage by a hurricane and prevent such a crisis in future years to come.

In a statement by Jimi Grande, the senior vice president for the National Association of Mutual Insurance Companies (NAMIC) it was stated that, “The best time to protect your home from extreme weather events is long before they happen, and a safe building code have been repeatedly shown to be the best and most efficient means of preventing damage and loss.”  The truth of the matter is that if the building code is stronger and safer, then the houses will be able to withstand harsher weather.

In the strategy proposed by NAMIC, the taskforce is recommending that states adopt the latest version of the International Residential Code and that programs like the Insurance Institute for Business and Home safety Fortified home program.  NAMIC is a huge supporter for these programs, and others, and has tried to pass legislation in the form of the Safe Building Code Incentive Act.  This act would provide post-disaster aid for states which adopt it, and is currently before congress.

“The Safe Building Code Incentive Act rewards those states that act responsibly to reduce their exposure to extreme weather, without adding any significant additional costs to the taxpayers,” Grande said.  In an extensive study, it was shown that each dollar spent by the government on mitigation would save 4 in losses – long term.  If the codes had been in place during sandy it has been proposed that savings would be in the billions.  Wind damage alone would have been reduced by 8 Billion in Louisiana and 3 billion in Mississippi.

“The simple fact is that mitigation is the best way to reduce the costs of extreme weather,” Grande said. “With this report, the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force joins NAMIC and a chorus of other building experts, engineers, communities, and emergency responders who want to see their communities built stronger and safer.”

Whether the laws get passed nationally or only in a few states, it is a step in the right direction.  Any legislation that can save tax dollars and improve the quality of life for those effected is one that should be heavily considered.

Collin McGorty No Comments

How to get NYC Home Improvement Licenses

How to get NYC Home Improvement Licenses

In order to run a home improvement contracting company in NYC you will be required to obtain the proper NYC home improvement licenses.

Who is required to have NYC Home Improvement Licenses

As described by the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs, “A person or business must have a Home Improvement Contractor license if engaged in the construction, repair, remodeling, or addition to any land or building used as a residence. This includes, but is not limited to, the construction, replacement, or improvement of basements, driveways, fences, garages, landscaping, patios, porches, sidewalks, swimming pools, terraces, and other improvements to structures or upon land that is next to a home or apartment building.”

Application Requirements for NYC Home Improvement Licenses

There are a few things you need to do before you even apply for your NYC Home improvement license.  Even though you don’t need these documents in order to process your application online, the DCA reserves the right to request and examine them.

Anyone who owns a sole proprietorship operating under a name other than your own must file a business/assumed name certificate with the clerk of the county.  For those who do business under a name other than your own and not under a DBA (doing business as) there is no need for a business certificate.  If you are in a partnership, you must file for a partnership certificate with the county clerk where you do business.  For Corporations, Limited Partnerships, Limited Liability Companies, or Limited Liability Partnerships you must register with the NY Dept. of state.  If you would like to check the status of this you may check at this website: If you happen to be doing business out of the state which you incorporated in you need to get a Certificate of Doing Business in Good Standing from your home state’s Secretary of State.

Once you take care of the previously mentioned requirements you may file for your license. The following documents are required by the state as outlined by the licensing website.

The first form to be filled out is the Basic License Application.  This can be done online or in person.  Second, you will need to have your Sales Tax Identification Number OR Certificate of Authority Application Confirmation Number.  The Sales Tax Identification Number is the 9, 10, or 11-digit number on your New York State Department of Taxation and Finance Certificate of Authority.

You will then add this number to the Basic License Application form. If you have not received your Certificate of Authority, enter the 6-digit confirmation number you received when you submitted the application for a Certificate of Authority.  A certificate of authority can be filled out online at  If you are more comfortable filling out a paper application then reach out to the organization via telephone at (518) 485-2889. It takes up to 6 weeks to receive this certificate.

Next you will need proof of your business address.  To do that you can use a Utility bill, dated within the last 90 days, a Current lease or deed in the name of either the business or individual listed on the license application, Current rent or mortgage bill, Current license or permit issued by New York State or another New York City government agency that shows your business address.  In addition, you will need to provide Proof of your Home Address.  This can be proven in a similar way by providing either a Utility bill, dated within the last 90 days, a Current lease or deed, a Current rent or mortgage bill a Driver’s license.

Workers compensation documentation is also required.  Proof of this can be in the form of an insurance certificate from a private carrier or the NY State insurance fund office or a certificate of Attestation of Exemption from the NY State Workers’ Compensation Board.  In addition to Workers Comp, you must find a company to provide bonds for licensees.

Following these documents, a roster of employees and a contractual compliance agreement will be needed.

Home Improvement Contractor Exam and Exam Fee

If you wish to get a home improvement license in NYC you need to pass the home improvement contractor exam and pay a fee.  The test is 30 questions and of them, 21 must be answered correctly.  The fee is 50 dollars.  You have 2 chances to pass.  Only one member of your organization needs to pass.

Fingerprints and Processing Fee

All sole proprietors, general partners, corporate officers, members, and all shareholders owning 10% or more of company stock must be fingerprinted at the DCA Licensing Center. The fee is 75 dollars and you must provide either a drivers licence, a government id, passport, green card, or federal employee ID card.

License Fee

The last step would be to pay your license fee.  Depending on when you file, your cost will vary.

License TermLicense Expiration DateIf You File Your Application Between These Dates:Your License Fee is:
2 yearsFebruary 28
Odd years
From March 1 in an odd year to August 31 in an odd year$100
From September 1 in an odd year to February 28 or 29 in an even year$75
From March 1 in an even year to August 31 in an even year$50
From September 1 in an even year to February 28 in an odd year$25


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