Everyone in the quarrying industry knows it’s a risky business. Quarry insurance is one of those expenses that we accept as part of our lives but don’t fully appreciate unless we are unlucky enough to need to use it.
A heavily regulated and safety-focused workplace is unfortunately never going to fully shield everyone from unforeseen events, such as the effects of blasting or exposing unknown airborne materials of contaminants resulting in long-term health issues for workers or surrounding residents.
Quarrying professionals will already be familiar with a number of insurance policies including:
- Public and product liability that cover death or injury to third parties or damage to their property.
- Motor vehicle insurance that cover vehicles and third party vehicles for damage caused or caused by others, depending on the type of cover.
- Plant and equipment insurance that encompass tools, machinery and equipment from loss such as damage and theft.
- Workers’ compensation, which is mandatory cover in every state and territory of Australia.
- Asbestos liability and extension for removal or due to unforeseen risks. Generally only thought of as cover included in demolition insurance, asbestos was unfortunately found recently at mine sites that had brought it in from a local quarry.
For the most part, all your focus will be on the very real risks of your day to day operations. But in today’s increasingly litigious society, you’ve probably never realised the risks lurking away from your site. The risk for businesses Australia-wide is so broad that the following issues are driving some of the fastest growing insurance policies today:
Worker to worker claims.
The one thing most companies don’t account for is worker to worker claims from sub-contractors. If a sub-contractor is injured on your site, generally they will force you to claim against your public liability insurance. This normally wouldn’t be an issue, but unlike claims from the general public most liability insurance policies come with $25,000 excesses for worker to worker claims. It should also be noted some policies exclude all claims brought about from sub-contractors altogether.
Management liability has become the ‘must have’ insurance cover for any business. Generally, when you start putting a few staff on, it becomes even more essential. ‘Management liability’ is a package of smaller insurances in one designed to cover business owners and managers for the risks and liabilities with the highest payouts. It is so essential nowadays, that one in 10 businesses make a claim under their management liability cover, with the average claim being more than $25,000.
It varies from policy to policy but you should be expecting cover to include elements such as:
- Occupational health and safety defence costs. If a serious injury takes place on site, you know an OHS investigation is coming to your door next. If you are found to be in breach of an OHS regulation, you may face a hefty fine as government increases its use of fines as punishment. Management liability Insurance should cover the cost of defending yourself during the investigation and cover the cost of any fines imposed.
- Unfair dismissal/employment liability. As the rights, expectations and entitlements of employees increases in our country, it seems safeguards for employers is eroding. This shift, combined with reports of generous payouts to employees, has increased the chances of you being pulled into court for unfair dismissal. Defending yourself, even where you believe you have acted in a fair and ethical manner, is expensive, making management liability insurance cover necessary to assist in legal costs and any payouts you may be told to make.
- Paying government fines/statutory liability.As the government chooses more often to hand out fines as a means of punishment for breaches of regulations and laws such as OHS, EPA, etc, the management liability insurance policy covers to these fines so you don’t have to pay them from your own funds.
- Cyber liability. You go to your email, open your electricity bill, click on the link and writing comes across the screen saying all your files are locked and you have to pay a ransom to retrieve them. This is known as a ransomware attack and you will no longer be able to access your files or emails as they have all been locked down. With restricted access to your files and faced with starting from scratch, how long will it take your business to start running at 100 per cent again? Cyber liability can cover businesses for loss in income when they are infected by ransomware with business interruption cover, similar to the cover businesses have after a fire or storm. This policy section also covers them for the cost of getting their systems back up to 100 per cent, as well as covering legal costs incurred from breaching laws such as the Privacy Act, resulting from leaked information such as client, sub-contractor or confidential contract information.
As the market, society and law changes, make sure you are aware of the ever-changing risks you are exposed to, and don’t delay talking to an insurance broker about getting the right covers in place. Still not convinced? Think of it this way: protect your income, your livelihood, your hard work, and your employees relying on you for their jobs.
Dale Mackney is an authorised representative of Bluewell Insurance Brokers, part of the United Insurance Group.