Who are the Best Contractors Liability Insurance companies for 2018?
If you are looking for the best General Liability for your New York construction business you’ve come to the right place.
Here at GRBM we have been working with contractors for over 30 years. I personally have been helping contractors get the right coverage for their needs for 10 years.
My goal is to help you get the coverage you need easily and simply. With a 5.0 Rating on Google I think we are doing a pretty good job at meeting our client’s expectations.
In New York and especially within the five boroughs the markets change very often. With the constant changes, having a broker who is working on construction risks daily is critically important.
The #1 reason New York construction insurance is so challenging are the Action-Over claims. Action over is also the reason New York contractors on average pay 10X what contractors in other states pay for their general liability insurance.
Before we jump into companies, one important clarification. In the insurance world “general contractors” refers to contractors that do not self-perform, but sub-contract out the majority of the labor.
Unfortunately, there is no single best company for all New York and New York City Contractors. Using the links below you can navigate to the right company for your trade.
Since a lot of our visitors and clients are searching for New York City contractors insurance that’s where we are going to start.
Larger NYC Commercial General Contractors
Who: For larger commercial general contractors the clear best insurance company is Travelers Insurance Group. Travelers offers an outstanding policy for qualifying contractors.
Broad coverage, admitted (link to admitted vs non -admitted), flexible billing options as well as a free comprehensive risk control survey help make your business the safest and best it can be.
Travelers is a pillar of the insurance community founded in 1864. They are A+ rated by A.M. Best and do a great job for both businesses and individuals.
Why: Travelers is a clear choice here for a ton of reasons. The single biggest reason in my opinion is their ability to offer all lines. general liability, including 2m/4m options, umbrella up to $25m, workers compensation, commercial auto, inland marine and even bonding.
Travelers can become your single insurance company for all lines which is great from a simplicity and coverage stand point.
The toughest part of Travelers GC program is qualifying.
They only want larger commercial only firms as well as firms that play by the rules with proper risk transfer. If you qualify, you are set to be in with the best insurance company for many years to come.
Midsize and Residential NYC General Contractors
Who: If your firm is mixed residential and commercial or larger residential only, Prime Specialty is most likely the best option available.
Prime starts around $175,000 in premium so it is not for small firms but mid-size firms will find a competitive priced policy with broad coverage forms.
Why: Prime provides coverage for the tougher NY construction accounts that many other markets refuse too. Prime also offers increased limits and umbrella coverage to go with their broad comprehensive coverage forms.
The big downside is the minimum premiums being so high. Aside from that, Prime is an excellent choice if your needs and budget allow.
Smaller Residential and Commercial NYC General Contractors
Who: If the minimum premiums of Prime are out of your budget, Mt. Hawley is probably the best option available. While the coverage is more limited with a hammer clause as well as height limitations, the coverage is still very good if you can work with the limitations.
Premiums start at just $25,000 which is a relative bargain compared to some of the other options.
Why: Mt. Hawley was founded in 1979 and is A+ Rated with AM Best. They are a relative new comer to the New York City construction insurance market.
But they have come to stay with broad coverage forms and a simplified underwriting process to get you covered quickly and easily.
Residential Only NYC General Contractors
Who: For contractors doing strictly residential Gotham Insurance Company is likely going to be the best option for your contractors general liability.
The minimum premiums are only $20,000 in NYC. The coverage is a bit more limited than Prime but it does still provide action over coverage at a much lower price.
Why: Gotham insurance was founded in 1964 is A rated by AM best.
Gotham has been working with residential GC’s for years and has crafted the policy to meet the unique needs of residential general contractors.
Self Performing Contractors AKA Trade Contractors
When it comes to self performing trade contractors the insurance company varies by trade. The best insurance company for Electrical contractors is not going to be the best for Roofers.
New York City Carpentry Contractors
Who: Carpentry is a notoriously tough industry for insurance brokers.
However MiniCo is the leader for New York City Carpentry firms. MiniCo is headquartered here in New York, they understand the unique needs and coverage required for NYC based carpentry businesses.
With 100 years of history and an AM Best rating of A, MiniCo is ready to cover your claims when they happen.
Why: The policy offered by MiniCo can be tailored to your business which is great since many companies are pretty inflexible with NYC construction policies.
The premiums can start as low as $25,000 which is very reasonable for the coverage offered. Including broad forms, blanket additional insured, height limits up to 7 stories, including action over, the down side to MiniCo is the hammer clause.
This is more of an issue if you are using sub-contractors.
Bottom line: The carpentry contractors general liability policy offered by MiniCo is very solid from a coverage and value standpoint.
New York City Small to Mid-Size Masonry Contractors
Who: Masonry is high risk, with heights and chance for falling workers and falling bricks. It’s no surprise that finding the right coverage is a challenge.
However MiniCo is the leader in providing a comprehensive and affordable insurance policy to masonry contractors in New York City.
Why: MiniCo is the leader for NYC mason contractors due to the ability to provide good coverage with a low minimum premium of $27,500.
In addition MiniCo can offer umbrella coverage right over top of the general liability to meet the typical $5M umbrella requirements.
The down side to MiniCo is the height restriction and hammer clause. This can be a problem if you are trying to grow your masonry business to tackle larger jobs.
Bottom Line: If your willing to accept a height limitation, MiniCo is likely the best option available for your contractors general liability.
New York City Larger Masonry Contractors
Who: American Empire is likely the best general liability option for your larger masonry business. As your mason business continues to grow the jobs tend to go higher in both total cost as well as height.
Once your business starts working above 3 stories the insurance market limits even further.
To get a no height limit masonry policy offering action over and broad coverage, the premiums are going to start at $150,000+ but that will allow you to tackle the large tough jobs to take your business to new heights.
Why: American Empire has been providing the toughest NYC contractors broad coverage for many years. They are A+ rated with AM best.
American Empire is well known in construction world and when you go to work with a GC or developer, they will not have issues with your policy unlike some of the inferior and less expensive options.
Bottom Line: AE is not the cheapest option by any means, but it is the broadest and most comprehensive available today. When your crews are working at heights the last thing you want is questionable coverage.
New York City Plumbing Contractors
Who: Travelers is the best choice for plumbing contractors large and small in New York City. The major difference is for smaller contractors Travelers wants residential and larger they want commercial only.
Why: Because Travelers offers the broad coverage you need for your plumbing business.
With blanket additional insured, waiver of subrogation and contractual liability having a comprehensive plumbing policy with Travelers will allow you to take jobs with even the strictest GC or developer.
Bottom Line: Travelers will provide the coverage you need. While the policy will not be the cheapest plumbing general liability available it will be the comprehensive coverage that allows you to work worry free.
New York City Electrical Contractors
Who: When your electrical firm is looking for the best coverage, look no further than Travelers Insurance Company.
Offering policies to small and large electrical contractors you can rest easy when you have a policy with Travelers.
Why: Broad coverage, easy direct bill, comprehensive solutions with Work Comp, General Liability, Excess liability and Commercial Auto.
Bottom Line: Electrical contractors have a choice when it comes to general liability, but likely no choice is going to be better than the comprehensive insurance policies offered by Travelers Insurance Co.
New York City HVAC Contractors
Who: HVAC Contractors often time are left with limited options when it comes to selecting good coverage here in New York City. Of those limited options, Travelers Insurance Co is the best.
Travelers will offer your HVAC business the broad comprehensive coverage your clients demand.
Why: The reason Travelers is the best for HVAC contractors is simple: coverage!
While pricing is important, in NYC nothing trumps coverage. The good news is the pricing is competitive as well for both large and small contractors.
Bottom Line: Travelers is an institution in the insurance industry. A+ rated and around for over 100 years, the financial stability and history plus broad coverage makes them trustworthy and reliable for your business.
New York City Roofing Contractors
Who: When it comes time to insure your roofing business limited or restricted policies are unacceptable.
To get the broadest forms available the best option is American Empire Insurance Company. Pricing starts at $150,000 but no other company can be matched with the coverage offered.
Why: American Empire is a dominant force in high risk construction insurance.
They are one of the few companies that remains year after year for high hazard businesses like roofing contractors. A+ rated, they have the financial reserves to pay your claims when they happen.
Bottom Line: American Empire is expensive and somewhat difficult to qualify for a policy with, but also they offer the best most comprehensive policy available.
New York City Scaffolding and Rigging Contractors
Who: Scaffolding is no joke, despite the joke of a policy some scaffolding contractors have. Cut-rate junk coverage policies aren’t an option when your crews are installing scaffolding 15+ stories high in New York City.
With extremely limited options and very high minimum premiums, the best coverage is available with American Empire Insurance Company.
Why: American Empire is really the only company consistently offering no height limit, and comprehensive coverage for scaffolding contractors in New York City.
Bottom Line: You get what you pay for. American Empire is going to cover you when the claims happen.
New York City Environment Contractors Including Mold, Fire Water and Asbestos Remediation
Who: General Liability and Pollution Liability are critically important if you are in the environmental trades. Getting a combination policy to avoid finger pointing is a huge win, and that is exactly what Markel offers.
Why: Markel is A rated by A.M. Best and has been around for almost 100 years. Additionally the combination policy is very broad and comprehensive.
The team at Markel can also be flexible in creating unique endorsements including a high deductible action over option to reduce premium.
Bottom Line: Markel is being creative to offer the insurance solutions needed by all types of environmental contractors.
Upstate and Non-New York City Contractors
The Good news is once you step out of New York City, there are several additional options worth considering for your construction insurance needs.
Even still not all options outside of NYC are not the best. With that said, in this list I will breakdown the best options for the majority of contractors we work with.
Upstate and Non-New York City Large Commercial General Contractors
Who: When your firm exceeds $10M in gross receipts, the best option available is Travelers Insurance Co. They offer the broadest most comprehensive forms for commercial general contractors.
In additional to general liability, Travelers offers, umbrella, workers compensation, commercial auto, and even contractors equipment coverage. Providing a one carrier seamless experience for billing and underwriting.
Why: The main reason to choose Travelers is the coverage, in addition to favorable pricing and the ability to provide all lines of coverage.
Also with the risk control provided, you can get a thorough risk and site evaluation of your business for free.
Bottom Line: Travelers is an excellent choice if you meet the minimum gross sales requirements.
Upstate and Non-New York City Small to Midsize Residential and Commercial General Contractors
Who: If your general contracting company works in both residential and commercial buildings Admiral Insurance Co is likely your best option. Admiral has an A+ rating by A.M. Best and the financial stability to pay your claims when they happen.
Why: The #1 reason to choose Admiral for your general contracting firm is the flexibility and broad coverage.
Few companies are willing to provide excellent coverage for both residential and commercial general contractors. In additional reasonable minimum premiums keep this policy affordable for you.
Bottom Line: Admiral is financially sound and offers the coverage you need at a fair price.
Upstate and Non-New York City Smaller Residential General Contractors
Who: When it comes time to pick the right policy for your residential general contracting business the best available is with Gotham Insurance Company.
Gotham provides action over coverage, as well as blanket additional insured for residential general contractors.
Why: The main reason to pick Gotham is for the unique rating basis on the number of new homes.
This can really help you budget better to avoid a large audit surprise.
Bottom Line: Gotham is a long time player for the home builder and residential general contractor insurance market.
Self Performing Contractors AKA Trade Contractors
If your business performs the construction work with direct labor, in the insurance world you are classified as a trade contractor.
Upstate and Non-New York City Carpentry Contractors
Who: Selecting the right coverage for your carpentry business is important. That choice is easy when you qualify for a policy with Main Street America.
Why: Main Street America is the best choice for many reasons including their A rating with A.M. Best, which indicates they have the financial reserve to make payments when a claim occurs.
They also offer great broad coverage, with action over, blanket additional insured plus the ability to offer Commercial Auto and Umbrella Liability.
Bottom Line: Main Street America is there when a claim occurs, and has been since they were founded in 1923.
Upstate and Non-New York City Masonry Contractors
Who: For smaller to midsize masonry contractors the best general liability coverage is available with Main Street America Group.
MSA is a leader in the Up-State New York Construction Insurance market.
Why: The main reason MSA is the best, is the broad coverage and ability to offer multiple lines of coverage like general liability, umbrella liability and commercial auto.
Bottom Line: Main Street America the best choice for smaller masonry contractors in upstate New York by combining great coverage with an affordable premium.
Upstate and Non-New York City Large Masonry Contractors
Who: If your masonry business is tackling large high risk projects the best insurance available is with American Empire Insurance Co.
They can offer you the policy needed to work on Albany’s or any other upstate city high rise project. Unlike many other companies America Empire will offer no height limit in addition to broad coverage.
Why: American Empire is the leader for high risk construction insurance throughout New York State. They have the financial reserves to pay a claim when it happens, and the coverage forms are broad which leaves little to be denied.
It comes with a premium price tag, but if your crews are working off the ground you do not want to take the chance with cheap coverage.
Bottom Line: Policies are no bargain, but you get the coverage your masonry business needs.
As well as a reputation for staying in the high risk market so you won’t have to shop around every year for a new company.
Upstate and Non-New York City Plumbing Contractors
Who: Plumbing contractors have lots of options for general liability insurance. However Merchants Mutual has become the best option for most plumbing contractors.
With broad coverage, commercial auto, umbrella and workers compensation available Merchants can be your insurance company for all lines.
Why: Merchants is a Buffalo, New York based insurance company, which allows them to have a hands on approach to understanding what the needs of upstate contractors are.
Founded in 1918 and with an A rating by A.M. Best, when a claim happens you can count on Merchants Mutual to have your back.
Bottom Line: Merchants is a great New York only insurance company. They provide excellent coverage for plumbers that qualify.
Upstate and Non-New York City Electrical Contractors
Image Courtesy of Aspen Ridge Builders
Who: If you are looking for the best general liability policy for your electrical contracting business look no further than Buffalo, New York based Merchants Mutual. With a full range of products, they can cover your trucks, workers and liability.
Why: Founded in 1918 Merchants has a long history of paying claims for New York Contractors. Additionally Merchants rates on the number of employees which is very helpful come audit time.
Bottom Line: Merchants is there when you need them.
Upstate and Non-New York City HVAC Contractors
Who: Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning Contractors aka HVAC is often loosely referred to as mechanical contractors, but from an insurance view we sometime have to separately classify things.
The good news is regardless, Main Street America is your best option. Providing broad coverage even if your HVAC business does some plumbing, or electrical work in addition to typical HVAC work.
Why: The ability to be an all lines provider in addition to a long standing commitment to New York HVAC contractors makes MSA a clear best in class insurance provider.
Bottom Line: MSA has the financial stability and broad coverage to pay your claims when they happen.
Upstate and Non-New York City Roofing Contractors
Who: If you want the best general liability insurance for your roofing business Admiral should be your first choice.
Admiral is one of the few companies offering broad comprehensive coverage for roofers.
Why: The reason Admiral is the best option is the comprehensive forms that equal the best coverage for your business.
The pricing is also very reasonable for the coverage offered.
Bottom Line: Financially sound and broad coverage is always a good choice and that is exactly what Admiral offers for New York Roofing Contractors.
Upstate and Non-New York City Scaffolding Contractors
Who: If you are in the scaffolding business you know the risks, and have possibly even experienced less than ideal coverage.
However with a policy from American Empire that won’t be the case.
Why: American Empire offers extremely broad coverage to cover your scaffolding business. No height limitations!
AE is part of the Great American Group which is A rated with A.M. Best and has some of the largest financial reserves of any insurance company to pay your claims when they happen.
Bottom Line: When a claim happens American Empire will be there for you. The downside is minimum premiums put AE out of reach for smaller firms.
Upstate and Non-New York City Environmental Contractors Including, Fire Water Restoration and Mold and Asbestos Contractors
Who: If you are in the Fire Water Restoration or Mold and Asbestos Remediation business you want a policy with Markel Insurance Company.
They offer the comprehensive general liability and pollution policies you need to properly protect your business.
Why: In addition to broad coverage to protect you when a claim happens, Markel has creative underwriters that allow you to pay for what you need and not unnecessary extras.
The best example is the high deductible action over option, which allows action over coverage at a lower price. Allowing contractors that perhaps might have opted to go without in the past to be able to afford action over coverage.
Bottom Line: Markel is financially sound and will be there when a claim occurs. They are the best option available today for Environmental contractors in New York.
IF you made it this far, I really appreciate you taking the time to read this entire post! Please reach out and share your thoughts.