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Ten Steps to Prepare for a Windstorm

Ten Steps to Prepare for a Windstorm

Whether it be hurricanes, typhoons, cyclones or another type of windstorm – contractors never know when they’ll hit. When the worst happens, small business owners can be in a world of hurt.

Windstorms can have a disastrous effect on company offices or jobsites. Small business owners have a lot to lose when damaging storms come through. Property damage and business interruption are typically covered by insurance coverage, but time out of business can hurt the company’s reputation, which can lead to a loss of market share.

Every business needs to be ready. Here are 10 steps to prepare for a windstorm.


1. CREATE A PLAN

Write down exactly what needs to happen if a windstorm does hinder the business. Detail exactly who in the organization is responsible for what. Assemble any emergency supplies that could be required. Then put together a list of contractors, vendors and other services that could come in handy during an emergency.


2. SECURE THE PERIMETER

Make sure the outside of the building is prepared for a storm. Fasten down any and all loose equipment. Move items indoors if needed. Remove any large trees or limbs that could damage any buildings in the area during a windstorm.


3. TAKE CARE OF THE ROOF

Inspect the roof and make sure no repairs are needed. A roof can take a lot of damage during a windstorm so make sure it is in excellent shape.


4. FUEL UP

Before the storm hits, fill up gas tanks of fire pumps, generators, equipment or company-owned vehicles so they don’t run out of gas during a time of emergency.


5. PROTECT WINDOWS AND GLASS

Any window or door that has glass must be protected. Find these areas and attach pre-fitted windstorm shutters. This will seal the perimeter, which ensures no broken glass.


6. PROTECT ELECTRONICS

Computers, machinery and all electronics will be damaged if water reaches them. Right before the storm, try to cover all electronics with a plastic tarp and move things to a safe location. Backing up data is also essential.


7. WATCH FOR CHEMICALS

Are there chemicals on hand? If so, make sure they are properly and safely stored. If not, a storm could cause such chemicals to react in a violent manner if they come together accidentally.


8. PREPARE FOR THE FLOOD

Vulnerable openings around buildings should be covered with sandbags. Electronics should be moved to a higher elevation and covered with a plastic tarp. Turn off the electricity in the building once the storm and flood are nearing.


9. TURN IT ALL OFF

If the storm is nearing, turn everything off. From electricity to gas lines to all flammable sources – make sure everything is off.


10. UNDERSTAND INSURANCE

After the storm has hit, check the insurance policy, including type and level of coverage. Different events can be insured in different manners in certain locations. This includes landslides, tree damage, flash flooding and more. Small business owners have a duty to ensure their business is properly covered by any threat, especially windstorms.


Anthony Kammas is a Partner at Skyline Risk Management, Inc. He serves as the secretary-elect of the Professional Insurance Association (PIA) of N.Y., is a member of the Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce and a member of the Hellenic American Leadership Council. With over a decade of property and casualty experience, Anthony is an industry leader specializing in real estate and construction insurance. In 2015, new construction costs in New York City for residential projects grew to an all-time high of $18 billion. Anthony and Skyline Risk Management procured insurance for almost $1 billion of that total cost in 2015. 


THE SKYLINE DIFFERENCE

Other brokerages take a cookie cutter approach to insurance and outfit their customers with generic coverage.  Skyline is different.  We believe insurance should be built on innovation and experience. We appreciate the fact that every engagement is unique and understand proper coverage requires a deep understanding of the underlying business and individual.

"The opportunity to safeguard your concerns is a privilege we never take for granted."

What project, transaction, market trend or product has had the greatest impact on your industry this year?

What project, transaction, market trend or product has had the greatest impact on your industry this year?

The continued existence of the Scaffold Law (NYS Labor Law sections 240/241) which imposes “absolute liability” for elevation-related injuries on contractors and property owners in N.Y. This unique to N.Y. law continues to hurt the construction insurance market and every year including this one, more carriers leave the market because of the massive risk it subjects them to. This in turn drives up construction costs and makes it very difficult to procure proper coverage for N.Y. construction.

Insurance Industry Sees Challenges with New York City Crawler Crane Requirements

Insurance Industry Sees Challenges with New York City Crawler Crane Requirements

The Department of Buildings of the City of New York’s (DOB) recent move to better regulate crawler crane operations in New York City has led to concern for some in the insurance industry that a stricter regulatory environment could make a difficult coverage area even more challenging for insurers, according to several industry participants.

The new requirements resulted in an ongoing lawsuit filed last month against the DOB and its commissioner, Rick D. Chandler, claiming they are too burdensome for crane manufacturers and operators – a criticism echoed by some in the insurance industry.

“With this new regulation, claims could theoretically improve, therefore improving underwriting, but administrative costs will go up as well. I do not personally believe insurers will hustle back into New York due to these new regulations,” said Jeffrey Haynes, senior vice president and crane and rigging practice leader at USI Insurance Services. “This will not be a positive thing for insurers to want to jump back into writing cranes.” - Jeffrey Haynes

The lawsuit, filed in the Supreme Court of the State of New York by the Building Trades Employers’ Association on behalf of its members, comes after the DOB issued a June 2016 Commissioner’s Order containing new requirements for crawler cranes.

The order was issued in response to a February crane collapse in New York which killed one person. Following the crane collapse, New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio formed a new working group, the Crane Safety Technical Working Group, to recommend policies to improve crane safety.

“The City’s crane rules are there to protect people’s lives,” a DOB spokesperson said in an emailed statement to InsuranceJournal. “We look forward to reviewing this action and are confident we will prevail.”


Challenges for Carriers

Several insurance industry participants have expressed concern, however, that higher costs associated with regulatory compliance and recordkeeping, coupled with an already present risk for insurers of construction projects involving cranes in New York City, could push insurance carriers out of this coverage area.

Anthony Kammas

Anthony Kammas

“The market of carriers available to cover projects that involve cranes in New York is already very small,” said Anthony Kammas, Professional Insurance Agents of New York (PIANY) secretary and principal at Skyline Risk Management. “This regulation is putting more burden on the crane manufacturers and operators, which in turn adds additional cost to their underlying insurance. The premiums are going sky high, and a lot of the carriers are putting crane exclusions on their policies because they don’t want to deal with anything that involves cranes. If that continues, there will be a tremendous increase in premiums.”

New York is an already risky place for construction projects due to its density, and a stricter regulatory environment could negatively impact the risk/reward profile for insurers of construction projects involving cranes, according to Allen Wolff, shareholder at Anderson Kill.

“It’s a big question mark right now, and a lot of people in the industry are legitimately concerned they may face this increased expense but see no significant decrease in accidents,” he said. “At that point, regulations are burdensome and impose additional cost with no real reward. New York has always been a place where insurance is expensive and difficult to obtain, and there are some insurance companies that are probably disinclined to take that risk in this environment, whereas they might be more inclined to take that risk in a different environment.”


Push for Flexibility

One aspect of the order that many in the industry view as particularly burdensome is a one-size-fits-all approach, according to Wolff.

He pointed to one example in the lawsuit highlighting a rule in the Commissioner’s Order, which restricts crane operations in winds of 30 mph or greater. Although this DOB rule has been in place since 1968, it has rarely been enforced, according to the court document.

“Crawler cranes come in all shapes and sizes – they can be small enough to reach a three- or four-story building or tall enough to go up to a 15- or 20-story building,” Wolff said. “To apply the same standard across the board doesn’t seem, at face value, the most prudent way to go about it.” - Allen Wolff

Enforcement of the 30 mph rule could significantly increase construction costs without providing much corresponding benefit, since frequently returning cranes to non-operational mode can be risky, according to the Building Trades Employers’ Association in its court filing.

“High winds can cause a crane payload to act like a sail and move unexpectedly, imperiling the lives of workers and the public,” the DOB spokesperson outlined in an email regarding the rule.


Beyond Cost

Although some are calling for a more flexible approach to regulating crawler crane operations in New York, it is too early to tell if the current regulations will raise premiums, Haynes said. That said, any move to improve the safety of crawler crane operations in New York should look beyond cost, Kammas added.

“Obviously, regulations can be good, because no one wants to go out there and put anybody’s lives in jeopardy,” he said. “No one wants anyone to get hurt, and when the situation arises, you can’t think of dollars and cents. You need to think of how to get it resolved as safely as possible.”

One benefit that could be seen if fewer insurance companies begin entering the marketplace is unexpected upside while the industry adjusts to regulatory changes, Wolff said.

“If fewer insurance companies are coming in to underwrite the risk, it may turn out that there is such a need in the industry and such a market opportunity in underwriting, that with a few tweaks, exclusions or modifications, insurers can re-enter the marketplace,” he said. “Some insurance companies may have a really great upside.”

Although it is too early to predict any potential outcome, the best way for the insurance industry to determine how to move forward is to watch what happens with the regulations as a result of the current lawsuit, Wolff explained.

“It is possible that one of the by-products of this will be a renewed effort to have discussions and meaningful engagement around this topic,” he said. “If it gets city administrators and the DOB directly in contact with industry participants, it could lead to some modifications to these regulations that make them more palatable to the industry and yet satisfy the concerns of regulators following the accident. No one wants to see injury or catastrophe – not the industry or the city – but there has to be a balance.”

Who's News

Who's News

Anthony Kammas, President of Skyline Risk Management, Inc., has been elected secretary of the Professional Insurance Agents of New York Inc. An active member of the PIANY, Kammas serves as chairperson of the Government Affairs Committee. He also is a member of the Company/Industry Relations Committee and the National Flood Insurance Program subcommittee. Kammas also is an ex-officio member of the associations NEw York City. 

Construction Concerns–When The Lines Get Blurry

Construction Concerns–When The Lines Get Blurry

By Anthony Kammas, Partner, Skyline Risk Management

Things are changing all the time. In the past when a traditional construction project was being formulated, three important and well-defined steps took place: design, bid and build. Under this method, an engineer or architect provided the design services, a project management company took care of bidding out the project, and the construction contractor built the project. Each party had their own responsibilities and the risks that would accompany them.

But today, those roles and the responsibilities are changing. Because newer projects are more complex and design responsibilities are becoming more fragmented, the parties to a construction contract do not have the defined line between them that used to exist.

As these lines of responsibility between design firms and contractors become blurred, many contractors assume unusual risks that their normal contractor's coverage may not address. Contractors are now assuming risks that need to be mitigated with Professional Liability Insurance.


Construction Management Risks

Contractors today are likely to perform construction management services as an agent of the owner or hold separate contracts with subcontractors. In either situation, the contractor now takes on the responsibility for supervising the subs, scheduling and cost estimating. These types of activities create a specialized standard of care and a corresponding professional liability risk. The contractor no longer acts just as the builder of the project but is now responsible for design recommendations and project management. In the past, this was a three-part process done by three different firms.

Which Coverage for Which Risk?

We know that the general liability policy will provide coverage for losses caused by ordinary construction means and methods as long as there is resulting bodily injury or property damage arising from the occurrence. However, the professional liability policy will provide coverage for damages that result from rendering or failure to render professional services.

Circumstances such as project delays, cost overruns or having to reinforce a faulty structure wouldn't be covered under the commercial general liability but would be covered under a professional liability policy if it was caused by professional negligence.

The Contractor's Solution

Many insurance companies that specialize in the construction industry now make available the Contractor's Professional Liability Policy. This policy is a good solution for contractors that are involved with project design and construction management. Although policies differ by the carrier, most will provide the following coverage:

  • Broad professional services definition
  • Pollution Liability
  • Blanket additional insured coverage for clients of the "Named Insured" for pollution claims
  • Coverage for joint ventures
  • Prior firm coverage
  • Supplemental coverage for insured expense reimbursement
  • Coverage for innocent insureds
  • Automatic extended reporting period
  • Optional three-year extended reporting period
  • Claims-made coverage with circumstance reporting provision
  • 25,000 claims mediation credit
  • No lead or asbestos exclusion
  • Excess limits on specific projects
  • Coverage can be primary or excess
  • Subsidiary coverage
  • Worldwide coverage


Once a contracting firm gets involved with the design, bid or management of a project, the gate to professional liability risks are flung wide open and a standard Commercial General Liability policy falls short on many levels. If you perform any of these design or project management functions you should inquire as to whether a professional liability policy should be part of your overall insurance plan.

Anthony Kammas is a partner at Skyline Risk Management, a New York-based insurance company that specializes in construction and real estate insurance.

Anthony Kammas, Partner
Skyline Risk Management
30-50 Whitestone Expressway, Suite 402
Flushing, New York 11354
Phone: +1.718.267.6600
Direct Phone Line: +1.347.577.9887
Fax: +1.718.224.5511
Akammas@skylinerm.com
www.skylineriskmanagement.com

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Skyline Risk Management President Anthony Kammas Elected PIANY Secretary

Skyline Risk Management President Anthony Kammas Elected PIANY Secretary


Anthony Kammas, president of Skyline Risk Management Inc., a New York based insurance company that specializes in construction and real estate insurance, was recently elected secretary of the Professional Insurance Agents of New York Inc., at a meeting of the association's board of directors at PIANY's headquarters in Glenmont, N.Y.

An active member of PIANY, Kammas serves as chairperson of the Government Affairs Committee. He also is a member of the Company/Industry Relations Committee and the National Flood Insurance Program subcommittee. Kammas also is an ex-officio member of the associations New York City Advisory Council. PIANY is a trade association representing professional, independent insurance agencies, brokerages and their employees throughout the state.

"It is an honor to be part of this organization, and I look forward to contributing to its growth in the years to come," said Kammas. "The PIA has opened many doors, helping us take our business to the next level."

Skyline Risk Management, based in Flushing, New York,  is licensed in nine states and territories including New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Virginia, and Florida.  During 2015 in New York City new construction costs for residential projects grew to an all time high of $18-billion, almost double from the $10-billion in 2014 of which Skyline procured insurance for almost $1-billion of the cost in 2015.

Anthony Kammas & Skyline Speak at Queens Chamber of Commerce Real Estate Expo

Anthony Kammas & Skyline Speak at Queens Chamber of Commerce Real Estate Expo


Skyline Risk Management's Anthony Kammas Speaks at Queens Chamber of Commerce Real Estate Expo

Skyline Risk Management Inc. Founder Anthony Kammas was one of several invited speakers at the Queens Chamber of Commerce's Real Estate Expo 2016 at Terrace on the Park in Flushing Meadows, Queens, along with special guest, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz. 

Other panelists included: Chuck Merritt, president at Merritt Environmental Consulting Corp; John O'Connor, senior vice president and loan officer in the Commercial Real Estate Lending Department of Flushing Bank and Swain Weiner, president and founder of Greiner-Maltz Investment Properties.

Kammas spoke on one of several panels on a wide variety of current real estate topics, including environmental contamination and how it affects real estate: "If Contamination is Discovered Can Your Deal be Salvaged?

"When purchasing real estate, an insurance broker is crucial for helping to protect an investment from the risks associated from environmental and pollution liability," advised Kammas."The potential impact of this type of risk may be minimized through the purchase of environmental liability insurance."

According to Kammas, property owners and their lenders are exposed to a series of risks associated with the environment. "Protecting their interests requires an accurate assessment from a trusted and knowledgeable insurance broker," added Kammas who advised the group that an environmental liability policy will protect an owner on a claims made basis. 

NYREJ: Executive of the Month

NYREJ: Executive of the Month

Executive of the Month: Kammas co-founder of Skyline Risk Management: Brings unparalleled years of experience and knowledge to industry


Anthony Kammas, Skyline Risk Management, Inc.

Anthony Kammas, Skyline Risk Management, Inc.

New York, NY Construction is booming in New York City. In 2015, construction more than quadrupled to 88 million s/f, up from 21 million in 2009. It is a phenomenon that is familiar to many New Yorkers who on a daily-basis must weave their way through scaffolds and wait patiently as trucks bearing heavy equipment cross their paths.

The construction boom, however, has cost a lot. Accidents have nearly doubled since 2009, with regulations and requirements putting more responsibility on general and subcontractors for injuries to employees and passers-by. The result has been an astronomical increase in insurance costs, driving up the construction costs. Today approximately 10% to 20% of a development project’s budget goes toward insurance. Construction companies and subcontractors report skyrocketing premiums that in certain cases have even tripled. 

This situation has created a new breed of insurance broker who specializes in construction and real estate insurance. Skyline Risk Management was founded in 2012 by Anthony Kammas and three partners with a combined 45 years of experience helping both builders and real estate professionals understand their unique insurance needs.

Today, the New York-based Skyline Risk Management, a major construction insurance agency, is licensed in nine states and territories including New York, Connecticut, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Virginia and Florida. 

Shown (from left) are: Skyline's Partners George Menexas, Anthony Kammas, Yannis Legakis and Antonia Sellis

Shown (from left) are: Skyline's Partners George Menexas, Anthony Kammas, Yannis Legakis and Antonia Sellis

 

“Skyline Risk Management knows the demands of today’s business world and provides the expertise necessary to give contractors and developers a much-needed edge in the marketplace,” said Kammas, who runs Skyline, along with partner George Menexas; surety partner Yannis Legakis and benefits partner Antonia Sellis. Manoli Kalamotousakis serves as vice president and general counsel.

Kammas and the team at Skyline bring unparalleled years of experience and knowledge of the industry and community they serve. Kammas was recently named secretary-elect of the Professional Insurance Association (PIA) New York chapter, and serves on the boards of the Hellenic American Chamber of Commerce and the Hellenic American Leadership Council.

  In 2015, new construction costs in New York City for residential projects grew to an all time high of $18 billion, almost double the $10 billion spent in 2014. “Skyline procured insurance for almost $1 billion of that total cost in 2015,” said Kammas. “Unfortunately, many development projects – over 30 percent of them – are not properly insured.” 

Kammas cautions companies to find out if their insurance coverage is adequate before something happens that will test it. “Disaster can strike at any time,” said Kammas, a native New Yorker, who now lives with his family in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn.

As an active player on the national insurance scene, Kammas recently spent two days in Washington, D.C. on Capitol Hill meeting with U.S. senator Chuck Schumer ofNew York and other key legislators to urge elected officials to support bills which would open the flood insurance market to private carriers.

“The federal government currently provides flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), and private carriers now want to enter this market,” said Kammas, who is a board member of the PIA of New York and chair of the PIA’s governmental affairs committee.  “The goal is to provide private flood market insurance and competition so the government is the carrier of last resort. That will help with the pricing of such coverage.”

According to Kammas, Skyline Risk Management omits needless coverages and costs for clients. ”We treat the relationship as more of a partnership,” said Kammas, who says the company methodically reviews each client’s organization, its current coverage and operations, including five-year plans, to manage and customize insurance plans by means of risk identification, risk analysis, insurance plan design, implementation and review. 

 While most construction coverage offers only property casualty, Kammas says Skyline Risk Management customizes insurance programs through the use of various alternative risk products and services such as: captive formation, owner controlled insurance programs (OCIP) and contractor controlled insurance programs (CCIP), often referred to as “wraps,” self-funded plans, safety services, bonding and surety, subcontractor default, professional liability, pollution liability, owner’s and contractor’s protective liability (OCP), railroad protective liability (RRP), builder’s risk insurance and equipment floaters to insure against stolen equipment.

“We help clients procure proper coverage at a competitive price.  When creating an insurance plan, we take into account all of our client’s goals including optimizing employee retention and increasing bonding limits,” adds Kammas who grew up in Astoria, Queens and attended Iona College in New Rochelle where he received a bachelor’s degree in Finance and a master’s degree in Economics from St. John’s University.

Many companies have seen the effects of claims, a lot of them huge, by injured workers and bystanders.  As a result of this pressure and others, insurance premiums have risen in New York in recent years. “Companies have found that going to a company like Skyline Risk Management has helped them get the best value for their insurance premium dollar,” said Kammas.

In today’s world, legal action by a client or customer at some point is almost inevitable. “Whether there was an error committed by the company or not, most often these claims are not covered under a standard liability policy,” said Kammas.  

Lawsuits, he said, can happen at any time, without warning, so it is imperative to take the necessary steps to prepare for such an event because, even if the company has done nothing wrong, defending oneself costs precious time and money. The right insurance can mitigate these risks.

“We‘ve paved the way for completely personalized insurance programs that cover every aspect of a company’s current and future needs,” said Kammas. “With every client we have the chance to help build something remarkable and never take that opportunity for granted.”

Skyline Risk Management, Inc. On the Cover of the Mann Report - April, 2016

Skyline Risk Management, Inc. On the Cover of the Mann Report - April, 2016

We are very proud to be on the cover of, and featured in, the April, 2016 issue of the Mann Report! Click here to read the feature article on Skyline and insurance for the New York construction and real estate market.

The Mann Report is a monthly business-to-business magazine that includes up-to-date news on the current state of the commercial real estate market. The magazine has profiles on the most talented professionals the business has to offer—ranging from top commercial brokers and teams to famous developers, architects, lawyers, and mortgage brokers—as well as features industry up-and-comers and articles written by commercial real estate experts.