Take a casual stroll in Manhattan and you can't help but notice that construction is booming. Cranes, scaffolding, and sidewalk sheds are everywhere. And this isn’t just a New York City phenomenon. Ground-up construction and renovation projects are picking up all across the country. Low interest rates and favorable building conditions are resulting in a surge in real estate & development projects.
A case in point is the super sleek and very expensive Millennium Towers building in San Francisco. According to reports from independent consultants, the 58 story building has sunk about 16 inches and tilts about two inches to the Northwest. Settling is a natural process in any construction project and architects and engineers build that into their model; however, 16 inches since 2008 is a cause for concern. And, the sinking isn’t over. According to the August 9th article in Curbed San Francisco, the building is predicted to drop an additional eight to 15 inches into the ground.
A critical step of any contractual agreement between property owners and managers and their vendors (including contractors) is a careful review of the provisions affecting insurance and legal indemnification. The difference between a thoughtfully negotiated contract and one that is “off the shelf” or, even worse, none at all may be the difference between accepting liability where never intended.
The construction and real estate industry continue to grow and so do the risk exposures from a fundamental inconsistency between a contract’s commercial intent and insurance policy language. “Additional Insured” is a very common requirement in a real estate or construction contract and many times there is a distinct lack of specificity with what is, actually, being required and why the provision is appropriate. Additional Insured status provides vicarious liability coverage to an outside entity, usually, an owner or general contractor, under the subcontractor’s policy. It is often a requirement in construction contracts, and it can be the source of insurance disputes if not handled correctly given the changes in the regulatory framework of today’s insurance policies.
Topics: Construction, Construction Accidents, Construction Premiums, Construction Project Risk, Insurance, Limit of Liability, Property Risk, Real Estate, Risk management, Risk Management Blog, Strategic Risk Management, The ALS Group, Total Cost of Risk
Soft cost or delay in the project completion coverage has been a hot topic of discussion and concern, recently, due to the unique claims scenarios that occur during a construction phase of a project. At first glance, the term “soft costs” seems easy to explain; however, it is a complex subject.
It should not be surprising that as technology evolves, so does the way that these innovations are implemented in everyday business. The construction industry tends to exemplify this notion, as new equipment that increases efficiency at the worksite is utilized and embraced. Construction giant, Komatsu, announced this month that it plans to release a series of drones that will be capable of providing the heavy lifting of the foundation work in new construction, deeming the process: “Smart Construction.” This includes equipment such as “aircraft, bulldozers, and excavators” operating unmanned, all of which could, drastically, change the landscape of construction contracting.
The global outbreak of the Ebola virus not only has long term social ramifications but economic ones as well. Recently, this issue has become more and more prevalent on construction projects in developing nations. When a local government considers a substantial construction project it is expecting certain economic outcomes to follow. In light of the Ebola crisis, risk managers of construction companies and material supply companies must now factor into their budgets the real likelihood of a project being delayed or shut down even after a substantial amount of funds have been expended. A recent WSJ article, "Mining Projects Take Hit From Ebola Crisis", spoke about how major mining efforts have come to a virtual halt in the regions where Ebola is most prevalent. Work is now being disrupted by contractors pulling out of the area. This could lead to a variety of claims being filed – which may or may not be covered.
In 2012, the most recent year for which data is available, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reported 849 construction worker fatalities. Crane accidents make up a large number of these deaths and an even greater number of construction-related injuries each year. Not only can a crane accident cause significant injury to workers on a construction site, but it can also cause injury and death to innocent passersby of the site. Given the risk associated with crane operation on a construction site, what should you – owners and contractors – do to mitigate this risk and limit your exposure?