Whether it’s forty degrees or forty below, your HVAC business keeps your customers cozy in Canada’s wildly varying climate. And in turn, you can rely on HVAC contractors insurance to turn down the heat on the financial risks that your business faces every day. (Yeah, it’s a bad pun, but we’ll make up for it by giving you valuable information, so please read on…)
What are those risks? Unlike plumbers, who naturally need to be concerned about water damage, HVAC technicians don’t have an obvious area of concern in terms of the insurance claims they are likely to make. We put the question to the contractors insurance experts at our business insurance partners.
They told us there are two big areas of concern for HVAC contractors: Fire losses, and losses related to freezing.
Fire is a problem primarily for HVAC contractors that do repair or replacement work on existing buildings, whether it be residential or commercial buildings. Because HVAC work involves using an open flame for welding, soldering or brazing, you can imagine that working in an older building that may be filled with junk and debris, can definitely lead to fires.
It’s not an obvious hazard, but the fact is that HVAC contractors also make quite a few claims related to frozen pipes, whether they carry water, refrigerant or other chemicals. These claims typically happen when working on new construction projects when pipes may be exposed to the elements for any number of reasons, including a failure, usually on the part of junior staff, to properly seal and insulate newly-installed pipes. If the pipes freeze and burst, it can make quite a mess.
You might think that you would only need to make a liability claim if you or your staff do something wrong. That would be great, but the fact is that even if you and your employees take the greatest care and do everything right (which of course, is exactly how it is), if your customer suffers, say, $30,000 in water damage, if the pipe or connection that failed is close to something you were working on, a court would probably find you at least partly liable, and that would trigger a claim. Sad but true.
You’re replacing an air conditioner in a 30-year-old house where the air conditioning unit is in the attic. The attic is incredibly dusty, there are cobwebs all over the place, and the homeowners seem to be using it as storage. There are boxes filled with the children’s old art projects. Your junior technician clears out all the boxes and vacuums the cobwebs before starting his work. Later, while brazing a connection, the oxy/acetylene torch ignites the paper backing on some insulation that had been improperly installed. The fire is put out fairly quickly, but there’s quite a bit of damage to the roof.
Total claim: $6,700
The key to avoiding fire claims is to follow standard safety procedures for working with open flames:
As an HVAC contractor in Ontario, your business insurance doesn’t cover injuries to you or your employees while on the job. These would be covered by WSIB.
That said, insurance claims aside, we asked experienced HVAC contractors what their main on-the-job hazards were, and what safety tips they would give to a new contractor starting out. Most of the tips were about personal safety of HVAC workers, and we thought they were worth sharing here.
Here’s some of what they said:
Want to add to this story? Let us know in comments below! Mitchell & Whale is a fast-growing insurance brokerage in Ontario, striving to make insurance _not suck_ one customer at a time. Give us a call today to discuss any of your insurance needs at 1.800.731.2228.