Parish Buildings and Structure

Reducing liabilty exposure during construction

Here are some tips from our insurance company on how to reduce your exposure [liability] as a property owner.*

  • Never allow a contractor to complete work on your property without a contract.  The contract should contain a possible "hold harmless agreement" that makes the contractor responsible for the defense and any judgment in the event of a lawsuit.  In addition, the contract should state that it is the responsibility of the contractor to maintain a safe workspace.

  • Make sure you have solid lease agreements with your tenants.  This should include a "holdharmless agreement".  Make sure you also maintain a current Certificate of Insurance [COI] from your tenant.  The COI should name you and/or the building manager as an additional insured on the tenant's policy.

  • Before the work is started, the contractor should provide the building owner or property manager with Certificates of Insurance [COI] for General Liability and Workers Compensation.  The COI's should name the building owner and/or building manager as an additional insured on the contractor's policy. Minimum acceptable limits on the General Liability policy would be $1,000,000.

  • All equipment needed to complete the repair and/or improvement is the responsibility of the contractor.  The building owner should never loan, or allow a contractor to use their ladders or tools.

  • As the building owner, you should avoid supervising any work that you hired a contractor to perform.  Offering direction to an employee of the contractor could nullify the "holdharmless" provision of the contract you entered into with the contractor.

These practices won't ensure that you will not be sued or held liable for damages.  They will only help improve your chances of avoiding lawsuits and potential damage awards.

As with any other legal document, you should consult with your own attorney for specific legal advice and contract language.

*Information provided by Allmerica Financial, Hanover Insurance Company

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