Natural Stone Industry
Schechner-Lifson literally fell into providing coverage for businesses in the natural stone industry when our President, Mark Rosenrantz, was remodeling his house. “As everything was happening, I kept asking for certificates of insurance from all the vendors and came across a local stone distributor who helped me out. So, when the house was finished, I went back to them and said, “Let me see if we can help you.”
What Mark discovered was the distributor’s coverage was written inefficiently, costing them lots of money. From their, Mark led initiatives for Schechner-Lifson to become involved with the Ceramic Tile Distributors Associations, the Marble Institute of America , the National Tile Contractors Association and the Solid Surface Group, all groups working with natural stone and solid surface fabricators, installers and dealers.
Not only do we write the insurance for these associations, we stand on several committees for each one. We support the association by providing customized education and training to members; through sponsorships of special educational workshops and through the creation of special training programs to help members lower the cost of their coverage.
As an example, Marble Institute has an accreditation program for shops and fabricators that utilize higher level safety standards in their operations, qualifying for lower insurance rates.
Ultimately, while we call everything in our office stone, but there is a significant difference between the fabricator, who takes the slab and slices and dices it, versus the person who is actually installing the countertop or floor, versus the retail or wholesaler that sells the product.
In many cases that can be three different people, or it can be one organization that does all component jobs: importing, cutting and installation.
SAFETY FIRST, LAST AND ALWAYS
Schechner-Lifson brings association members a significant advantage, particularly in the handling of marble slabs. Many carriers now are very concerned about silicosis and it’s become a much more difficult class of business to write, particularly because of the risk for higher worker’s compensation claims. We have excellent partnerships that allow us to write that coverage.
The biggest potential for a claim– and the area were we see the largest frequency of claims—is in the slab handling. With the technology that is now being used to move slabs, we’ve found that many employees they lose sight of the very serious dangers involved with handling a stone slab. We like to say, with all seriousness, that when it comes to man versus slabs, slabs are the undefeated heavyweight champion, quite literally. Workers really have to pay attention to detail because it’s always dangerous and a potentially life threatening situation. Every shop and business owner would sign today to lose two or three slabs to breakage than have an employee die in an accident. And there is not a year that goes by that there’s not a death within the stone industry. That’s why Schechner-Lifson actively works with stone associations and members to support education and training on stone handling and safety within the workshop.
WHY USE SCHECHNER-LIFSON INSTEAD OF YOUR LOCAL AGENT
Underwriters’ perceptions of potential risks often don’t match with actual concerns. In the stone industry, an uneducated underwriter’s initial focus is drawn to the potential for lifting and back injuries. We explain that its a 600 pound slab which nobody tries to lift, so you’re not going to get a back injury because it’s just it’s just too heavy. And everyone is caught up now with silicosis and the effects of stone dust on worker’s health. These types of industry specific issues have not hit the general world of insurance yet, but with the way the legal system works, it’s just a matter of time before they will be.