Insurance can be confusing. We asked representatives from Travelers Insurance and Southern Solar Systems, a 2014 Solar Power World Top 400 Contractor, about insuring your solar business. Here’s what they said.
Solar Power World: What kind of insurance does a solar installation company need? Does it depend on scale, segment or state?
“The insurance needs of a company installing solar depends on many factors. Every company should purchase a standard suite of property and liability coverage: workers’ compensation, auto, general liability and property coverages. But the amount of coverage varies depending on the type of solar installation (rooftop versus utility scale farms), the legal environment of the state you are working in and the terms of each project contract. We also recommend professional liability coverage if there is any design work done by, or on behalf of, the contractor.”
– Matthew Burrows, Senior Product Director of Travelers Construction
“If you are acting as the general contractor or working with large commercial or utility systems, you may want to purchase a builder’s risk policy to cover the entire project including the loss of income for the project owner. But if your installation company works as a subcontractor, or on smaller residential projects, you may only require an installation policy. Both policies usually include transit coverage (which covers the transportation of materials to the job) and temporary storage (if materials need to be temporarily stored off-site prior to installation).”
-Scott Foyer, National Construction Practice Lead for Travelers
“As mainly a commercial EPC, we normally only require general liability and workers’ compensation. General liability and workers’ compensation coverage levels normally do not change for residential and small commercial work.”
-Chris Shearburn, Southern Solar Systems
SPW: How does a solar contractor begin to approach purchasing insurance?
“It’s important to work with an agent or carrier who has the resources and dedicated technical staff to address the specialized needs of a solar contractor. Look for a carrier that can offer a variety of support, including educational materials and training specifically for construction hazards.” – Foyer
SPW: Do electricians have similar exposures or risks as roofers?
“Yes. Many contractors involved in installing solar panels may not feel they are roofers per say. But if you’re going to be working on a rooftop, you are exposed to many similar risks as a traditional roofing contractor, such as falls from heights. Anchoring a system to a roof involves penetrating the roof, creating potential liabilities similar to what a roofer would have, which the insurance carrier needs to take into account.” – Burrows
“If you’re the general contractor, you are ultimately responsible for the electrical and roofing side of the project. Any subs will carry this liability along with you.” – Shearburn
SPW: Do you have tips or best practices for working with insurance providers?
“It’s important to be open when communicating with your insurance company. During the quoting process, the more information an insurance provider has about your operations, the better job we can do to help you craft the appropriate coverage and potential safety programs best suited for your company. Timely communication is also critical when reporting claims because the sooner we can get involved, the quicker we can resolve it.” – Burrows
“We recommend reporting any changes in your operations to your agent or broker so they can alert your carrier who can make sure to update your policy so you are protected.” – Foyer
Listen to our podcast with Travelers to learn more.