By Chris Richmond
Originally Submitted to WorkBoat Magazine
Clients often ask us to review contracts they are preparing to sign. This is actually the most important part because after they sign a contract there is not much point in our reviewing it. One of the first things we tell them is that we are not lawyers and they should call their own attorney − but we are happy to review the insurance portions. Aside from limits of liability and mandatory coverages, nine times out of 10 there are three requirements which can significantly change their insurance coverage.
Hold Harmless: Commonly added to insurance clauses in contracts, this essentially promises to hold harmless from any and all claims the company you are doing business with. This provides a very broad exemption of liability and often can be reworded more favorably to include “in conjunction with your work under this contract.” You should also demand the contract is reciprocal to both parties and that the other party holds you harmless, as well.
Waiver of Subrogation: Another common condition added to contracts, this essentially prevents your insurance company from collecting from the other party if they were negligent in the claim. If your insurance company pays for damage done to your vessel by the other party in the contract, a Waiver of Subrogation prevents the insurance company from suing the other party in the contract to recoup their payment. Again, if this is required, make sure the other party waives subrogation, as well.
Additional Insured: This clause allows the other party to share your liability limits if they are named in a claim related to the work being done in the contract. This means the liability limits are now cut in half, reducing your overall coverage limits – and that the other party in the contract is now getting liability coverage for free. We are seeing this requested more often these days and often an underwriter will want to know the relationship between the two parties, to explain the need to be added as additional insured.
Contracts are part of doing business and can be as simple or as complicated as the parties involved require. When it comes to the insurance language in your contracts, be sure to reach out to your agent for a thorough review and advice on what you are about to sign.