Builders’ association to form insurance firm

Saying the traditional insurance market has abandoned construction contractors, the New York State Builders Association is planning to start its own insurance company to serve members.

Most liability insurance carriers have either stopped offering coverage to builders or have increased rates by as much as 500 percent over the past 18 months, Phillip LaRocque, executive vice president of NYSBA, told the Albany Times-Union.

He said liability insurance is difficult to obtain because New York law makes builders completely responsible for injuries workers suffer on the job, even if the worker was at fault. The trade group has lobbied to change the law, but labor unions have stopped such legislation, saying it would result in unsafe workplaces.

Albany-based NYSBA has applied to the state Insurance Department to form a liability insurance reciprocal company, and hopes to have the business open by the end of the year.

LaRocque said the association knows it won’t be able to offer rates shockingly cheaper than those their 3,500 members are already paying because costs will be high. He said the group hopes to hold down expenses by aggressively fighting unreasonable claims in court and overseeing builders’ safety programs.

“It’s a major undertaking; it’s a major risk,” LaRocque said. “But we think we can get it done.”