Construction Near Water: Important Facts
by Alison Neumann

Construction Near Water: Important Facts

Living and working near large bodies of water like Lake Superior gives contractors much to think about when it comes to insuring their businesses. Did you know that you need special insurance coverage to do construction near navigable waters?  Without it, if you find yourself in the middle of a claim, your loss may not be covered.

First, what is the definition of navigable waters?  Any body of water, such as a river, canal, lake, or ocean that is deep, wide, and calm enough for a water vessel to travel along is considered navigable.  It can also be called a waterway for water travel.

Why is construction near water considered different than other jobs?  Most standard insurance policies exclude this type of coverage, so specific coverage is needed to protect your business. This includes special coverage for workers compensation, general liability, umbrella liability, and property that is used near the water.

Workers compensation insurance coverage for work done near waterways is specific to the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA).  The LHWCA is a federal law enacted to provide compensation for job injuries that occur on or near navigable waters.  It is different from the Jones Act, which covers seamen who work on waterways.  LHWCA coverage is not automatically included in a work comp policy; it needs to be added specifically.  Without the coverage, the business may end up having to pay the claim out of pocket.  Also, some insurance carriers do not offer this coverage, so it is important to discuss this with your agent prior to the work starting.

If your business does construction regularly on the waterways, you may need special Marine Contractors Insurance coverage.  This would be for work done on piers, docks, breakwaters, harbors, marinas, and bridges.  However, if that kind of work is just a portion of your business, typically 10% or less, many insurance carriers will be able to make an exception and add coverage to the standard business policies.

Making sure you are properly insured will give you peace of mind when accidents do happen.  To find out if you have the proper insurance, you need or for any insurance inquiries, contact your agent today.


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