This month's PHCC In Action deals with insurance.

Dear Industry Friend,

Insurance has become a very big issue in our PHC contracting businesses. Within PHCC alone, we have heard “horror stories” about members’ experiences with skyrocketing premiums, mold coverage exclusions and insurance cancellations. Also, several members are experiencing great increases in their construction liability insurance.

To help our fellow contractors address this area, this issue of “PHCC in Action” talks about some of the types of insurance problems our industry is facing, and how we can prevent any related profit losses. We also update you on PHCC’s efforts to secure affordable healthcare for our industry through association health plan legislation.

You’ll also find a list of major PHCC events. We hope you’ll find the opportunity to attend one soon.

Steve Carder

PHCC President

PHCC Lobbies for Association Health Plans

To help members deal with significant increases in health insurance costs, PHCC has been busy this year lobbying for a bill that would allow trade associations to provide affordable health care insurance programs to members.

PHCC lobbied congressmen and senators throughout the year on the issue. Also, association health plan legislation was the focus for the nearly 160 PHCC members who participated in the 2003 Legislative Day activities.

What is an Association Health Plan (AHP)? AHPs allow small business owners to band together through their membership in a trade or professional association to purchase health coverage for their families and employees.

It would allow a small business owner to purchase health benefits through an association like PHCC. PHCC then would purchase and process health insurance for a large group of small business owners, taking advantage of greater volume discounts.

How will AHPs help small business? AHPs could give small businesses a significant discount compared with the cost of purchasing coverage directly from an insurance company. AHPs could also help many small employers who are now struggling to offer coverage to increase health benefits and/or pay a higher share of workers’ premiums.

PHCC encourages all PHC contractors to get involved in this issue. For a sample lobbying letter, visit For more information about PHCC’s government relations initiatives, call 800/533-7694 or go to

2003-2004 PHCC Calendar of Events

Discover for yourself all the ways PHCC works to grow your business. Join PHCC now, and get 15 months of membership for the cost of 12. Plus, you can attend any of these programs at member rates. Put the PHCC advantage to work for you today.


Nov. 19-20
Business Operations and Systems Success (BOSS) Program
Houston, Texas

Dec. 10-11
Business Operations and Systems Success (BOSS) Program
Fairfax, Va.


Jan. 7-10
Essentials of PHC Project Management Course
Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas

March 4-7
Quality Service Contractors’ Meeting
Chaparral Suites Hotel, Scottsdale, Ariz.

March 10-12
Construction Contractors’ Alliance
Mark Hopkins Intercontinental,
San Francisco, Calif.

March 17-20
Advanced PHC Project Management Course
National Conference Center,
Lansdowne, Va.

March 25
PHCC Legislative Day
Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C.

March 26-27
PHCC Leadership Conference
Key Bridge Marriott, Arlington, Va.

April 1-3
Union-Affiliated Contractors’ Unity Conference
Lakeway Inn Conference Resort,
Austin, Texas

June 23-26
Essentials of PHC Project Management Course
Southern California

July 22-25
Quality Service Contractors’ Meeting
Renaissance Parc 55 Hotel,
San Francisco, Calif.

Aug. 20
National Standard Plumbing Code Public Hearing
Sheraton Premiere, Tysons Corner, Va.

Oct. 12-16
122nd PHCC National Convention and ISH North America Trade Show
Sheraton Boston and Boston Convention Center, Boston, Mass.

Oct. 15
PHCC International Plumbing Apprentice Contest
Boston Convention Center, Mass.

Insurance Tips from PHCC Members

Inevitably, insurance becomes a “hot topic” whenever PHCC members get together. Here are a few tips and “lessons learned” from PHCC members:

“Don’t file your company’s small claims. Also, carry high deductibles.”

-- Laurie Crigler, L & D Associates Inc., Aroda, Va. (PHCC member)

“We hired a consultant to put bid specifications together and receive bids on our insurance. We were able to hold our prices in line with the previous year. The consultant ended up splitting our general liability from our workers’ comp. One company was competitive in workers’ comp, the other in general liability. The jury is still out as to how the completed year will work, but six months in, no problem.”

-- Robin Hanson, Hanson’s Plumbing & Heating, Perham, Minn. (PHCC and QSC member)

“We made ourselves ‘attractive’ to underwriters by eliminating claims we otherwise might have made or had to make. Frequency of claims is an expensive red flag.

“We involved every member of our company in a ‘no-claims’ attitude by pointing out that insurance premiums are not a savings account or bank account that you are really entitled to, minus a few dollars for insurance company overhead. ZERO claims being our goal, we teach and know the real purpose of insurance is to keep you out of bankruptcy, not to forgive you monetarily for smaller mistakes. Low risk always equals low premiums.

“Our risk management plan has our insurance company as a partner, not a spectator.”

-- Steve Carder, Carder Plumbing & Heating Co., Sand Springs, Okla. (PHCC and QSC member)

“Eight years ago we had a 1.8 work comp modifier. We are now at a 0.6, and have been there for four years. The primary reason for the drop was the ‘retiring’ of three of the major ‘offenders.’ One couldn’t swing a sledge without hitting himself in the knee. Another took us for a ride and collected on workers’ comp for six months for a sore back. Safety training was also a major factor.

“Interesting enough, we never had a major claim, but there were numerous small claims. The insurance company we were with at the time was concerned that the ‘klutzes’ we had on payroll would one day have a major claim, so jacked up our rates.”

-- Elmer Stutzman, Goshen Plumbing & Heating, Goshen, Ind. (PHCC and QSC member)

“For auto insurance, pick an amount your company will spend to settle a claim before you have to report it to the insurance company. If you settle the claim, be sure you receive a waiver and release, which should be written on the back of the check.”

-- Tom Maniuszko, Day-Night Plumbing & Heating Co., Richmond Hill, N.Y. (PHCC and QSC member)

Combat Rising Workers’ Compensation Costs

What Can You Do?

• Train new employees thoroughly. Many accidents occur when an employee is new.

• Early reporting of safety violations can avoid major injuries.

• Keep good records of training, injuries, warnings and praise.

• Develop a light duty return to work strategy.

• When hiring check references…offer employment contingent upon passing a physical exam.

When an Injury Occurs:

• Investigate promptly and thoroughly.

• Educate your employee about worker compensation benefits.

• Report the claim to your insurer within 24 hours.

• Utilize managed care providers.

• Keep in contact with an injured employee.

• Bring employee back to work in light duty position as soon as possible.

(Reprinted from Federated Insurance’s The Shield, Spring 2001 edition.)

Think Safety!

PHCC members agree that effective safety programs can help reduce insurance costs. Here are samples of the types of safety programs members have at their companies.

Safety Incentive Program

“What I think has been the most effective process in reducing our insurance costs is the implementation of an aggressive Safety Incentive Program in combination with a Safety College for learning techniques, tool demonstrations to prevent accidents if the employees are unfamiliar with using a certain tool, and safety training in general such as OSHA 10-hour. We are seeing very positive feedback from the field. It's working!"

-- Sandra Hillier, C.J. Erickson Plumbing Co., Alsip, Ill. (PHCC and CCA member)

Safety Meetings

“Weekly safety meeting with field people showing safety tapes supplied by insurance company and PHCC. After showing video, then go over any accidents that recently occurred.

“Monthly safety meetings with supervisors, management and insurance company rep.”

-- Tom Maniuszko, Day-Night Plumbing & Heating Co., Richmond Hill, N.Y. (PHCC and QSC member)

Driving Tips

“Our insurance agent suggested that every Monday morning we give a driving tip of the week. We park our trucks inside the garage here at our shop, so Monday morning I tape the tip to the steering wheels. That way the drivers are thinking about driving safely.”

-- Laura Ciriello-Benedict, Ciriello Plumbing, Beech Grove, Ind. (PHCC and QSC member)

Plumbing Contractors’ Top 3

Plumbing contractors file the highest number of insurance claims in these three areas, according to Federated Insurance:

1. Auto

2. Workers’ compensation

3. Products liability