Bulldozer dumping debris

On most construction sites the untrained eye might think excavation is the lowest risk portion of the job, right? You are digging and clearing space before any of the heavy lifting beings… WRONG! You are brought on the site with the assumption that the project manger has done his homework and marked all the areas to dig and place dirt….Not always the case. It’s 100% crucial to carry liability insurance for this reason alone. If you do the work and damage something either underground or on the surface its on you, not the project manager.



Call the town center

In every state, county and city there is a number to call before digging. Never sleep on this or trust someone else. It is your responsibility to call and make sure underground utilities lines are marked. You cannot trust anyone else to do this when its your business. Get in the habit of scheduling this as soon as you sign a contract for work. If you are brought in during the middle of a job, request to see the paperwork from the state or city based group in your area marking those utilities.



How deep can you dig?

Another important factor that is commonly overlooked is the depth to which you can dig. Many crews get onsite and objectively think I have to get done by this date, at all costs. They do not measure they depth to which they are digging. A common policy allows for 10 feet below ground. It’s important to know this number and stick to it on the job site. A claim could easily be denied for this small oversight. What do you do if you need to go below 10ft? Call your agent! It’s likely you can notify underwriting without having to re-write your policy for this one exception.



Think about your equipment

Speaking to the point of knowing your coverage, is your equipment covered? The biggest oversight I see in excavating contractors is not having coverage for the machinery. Unless your Liability Policy carriers a rider for equipment, claims stemming from machinery will not be covered? Call your agent immediately. Even if your policy does carry a rider there could be limitations. Even rental companies do not always perform their diligence. To be 100% safe, carry inland marine coverage on your equipment. It’s a small cost to project yourself and your business.



Who holds the wheel?

Now that you have the proper insurance there is one last thing many contractors miss. Do not let your employee’s or sub’s work your machinery if they are not listed on the policy! Ask your agent the important questions, specifically will my employees or sub’s be covered if they operate my equipment. Under most circumstance employees will always be covered. Sub-contractors are not typically covered. Ask your agent! These small tips will ensure your portion of the risk it trimmed down.

Written by: John Brown
John has more than 25 years of experience in the insurance industry. He grew from a star insurance producer to owning one of the largest agencies in the country; he's a reference regarding contractor's insurance, commercial insurance, and builders' risk insurance.