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They say it’s not about the destination so much as the journey. As a transportation engineer, you utilize your background in civil engineering and urban planning to improve the travel experience. Whether you are designing a bike lane that a child might use to get to school, a bus system an adult might ride to work, or a railway that an elderly person might take to see a relative, your work directly affects your community. Because the systems you build can affect thousands of people, any errors or mistakes on your part have the potential to cause significant harm. In order to protect your firm from a lawsuit, you should consider purchasing business insurance.
While your engineering firm may face risk of professional error, your company is also exposed to other liabilities like accidents at your workplace, natural disasters, theft, and vandalism, among others. In order to provide financial protection for your business and your employees in the case of any unfortunate events, set your company up with the right business insurance coverage. Business insurance can provide a much needed lifeline when your company is facing unexpected lawsuits, accidents, or disasters.
Consider purchasing business insurance for your firm if:
- You would like to insure your services and practice against claims of poor performance or errors in your work
- You store employee or customer data like financial records or personally identifiable information (PII)
- You employ others and provide benefits like health insurance or retirement plans
- You lease or own your own office building
- You store valuable equipment or property in your office
- Clients or vendors visit your office
What insurance coverage do I need as a transportation engineer?
Transportation engineers are best equipped with a variety of insurance policies, not the least of which is professional liability insurance, which can protect against lawsuits related to professional services or work. Other important coverage types include general liability, which covers third-party injuries and property damage; workers’ compensation insurance, which protects your employees financially if they are injured on the job; and commercial property insurance, which covers your business property if it is damaged or destroyed. Below we review some of the most important insurance coverages for transportation engineers.
Professional Liability Insurance
Professional liability insurance, also known as errors and omissions insurance, protects your firm from lawsuits relating to your professional services and work. During the course of business, you may encounter clients who are dissatisfied with your work. Whether the dissatisfaction comes from legitimate mistakes or negligence on your part or are simply unfounded, professional liability can pay for the judgements or legal defense costs from any resulting lawsuits. Moreover, unlike most forms of professional liability insurance, professional liability policies for engineers typically include coverage for third-party bodily injury or property damage.
- Errors/Negligence: Your firm is hired to design a new bike path for the city’s largest park. You have the experience and expertise to design these paths, as you have done so in the past. On this latest project, however, you mistakenly design the bike path lanes too narrow. The paths must be reworked, adding time and cost to the entire project. The city sues your firm for damages.
- Performance: You design a new transit system for a small town in Michigan. Because of mismanagement on your part, the project is delayed for multiple weeks, forcing the town to hire another firm to complete your unfinished work.
- Bodily injury and property damage: Your firm is hired to design a new highway overpass. After construction is complete, part of the overpass collapses, injuring multiple drivers and damaging their vehicles. It is found that your design was faulty and the cause of the collapse.
General Liability Insurance
General liability insurance protects your company from lawsuits claiming property damage, bodily injury, or personal and advertising injury caused by your business or your employees. If you accidentally damage a client’s property on a site visit, if a client visiting your office injures himself, or if you unintentionally slander a competitor in an advertisement—these are all situations in which general liability can protect you from any claims. General liability can help pay for any damages relating to lawsuits, as well as legal defense costs and any medical payments for injured parties.
- Property damage: You are hired to build a new railway, so you send one of your colleagues to a local railway station to inspect a few train cars. While inspecting the cars, your colleague trips and falls backwards, breaking a glass window. The car was vintage, and the glass is irreplaceable. The railway company sets out to sue your firm.
- Bodily injury: One of your clients visits your office to discuss an upcoming project. While he is there, he walks through the kitchen area, where he slips on a pool of water and dislocates his hip. He decides to sue you for bodily injury.
- Personal and advertising injury: Your company is releasing a new brand campaign, with advertisements featuring imagery of a train, airplane, and car crossing paths against the backdrop of a hardhat. You find out later that this imagery is incredibly similar to another well-known engineering firm’s ads. That firm sues your company for misappropriating their advertising idea.
Commercial Property Insurance
Commercial property insurance protects the value of your leased or owned buildings, as well as the contents inside those buildings. If an unexpected accident or disaster damages your property, commercial property insurance can help your business pay for repairs or replacement. Some examples of property that are typically covered include buildings, equipment, inventory, furniture, artwork, and computers. Commonly covered causes of loss include fire, lightening, wind, hail, explosion, theft, and vandalism.
- Buildings: After a year of good business, you decide to purchase the office building that your company works from. Unfortunately, a severe windstorm hits the area the following week. The building is over 50 years old and has been poorly maintained, so many of the exterior shingles are torn off by the forceful wind. Commercial property insurance can cover the cost to replace them.
- Contents: Protests and riots break out in the downtown area of your city, where your office is located.Your building exterior is severely damaged, as rioters have thrown rocks through your office windows and vandalized the walls. Commercial property insurance would cover the cost to repair your office exterior.
- Property of others: A neighboring business has lent you their 3D printer, while yours undergoes repairs. Over the weekend, your office is broken into, and much of your electronic equipment is stolen, including the borrowed printer. Commercial property insurance would cover the cost to replace your equipment that was stolen, including the 3D printer.
Workers’ Compensation Insurance
Workers’ compensation insurance provides financial benefits to employees who suffer work-related illnesses or injuries while employed by your business. In most states, businesses that have employees are required to carry workers’ compensation insurance. In exchange for accepting workers’ comp benefits, an injured employee agrees to not sue your business for the injury. Workers’ compensation insurance is no-fault, which means that it pays benefits regardless of whether the employer or employee is at fault for the injury.
Workers’ compensation can cover the costs of:
- Funeral expenses
- Disability benefits
- Medical expenses
- Rehabilitation costs
- Death benefits
- A portion of lost wages
- One of your employees is out in the field overseeing the development of a new road. Unfortunately, a construction worker responsible for pouring the pavement doesn’t watch what he is doing and mishandles the asphalt paving machine. Your employee’s leg is covered in hot asphalt, and he must be rushed to the hospital where he is diagnosed with severe burns. He can’t work for a week. Workers’ comp will cover the cost of his hospital stay, as well as a portion of the income that he misses out on.
Business Owner’s Policy
A business owner’s policy, also known as a “BOP,” is a special bundling of policies that can provide coverage for risks that are common to small business owners. BOPs combine property, general liability, and business income and extra expense insurance coverages for qualified small businesses. Importantly, a business owner’s policy can help you save money, with lower premiums than buying the individual coverages separately.
As a transportation engineer, you utilize your skills in civil engineering and urban planning to create accessible roads, railways, and transportation systems. Though you may be well intentioned, mistakes and accidents are sometimes an inevitable part of doing business. To better protect you and your firm from any unexpected events, including lawsuits, injuries, and natural disasters, invest in a comprehensive business insurance package. From general liability to commercial property insurance to workers’ compensation, there are a number of coverages that will help to protect you and your employees in the face of any unfortunate events.