Top Liability Money Traps to Avoid In 2021

What is a liability money trap? For what I am addressing here, it is a set of facts and circumstances that can lead to potential liability issues for restoration firms. Facts and circumstances have already set the trap for the unaware; below is some advice on how to not into the traps.

Insurance brokers who specialize in insuring restoration firms are in a unique position to identify future industry trends. In the insurance application process, we get to see the business forecasts for the upcoming year for firms in the restoration business from across the country. We also see the insurance claims themselves, which allows us to see trends in liability arising from the work performed by restorers. Often, the work leading to the claims was completed many years prior. 


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David Dybdahl

April 29th, 2021


There are other money traps for restorers to step into, but they are not as widespread as these four. The money traps are easy to see and avoid if you are looking for them. The bogus insurance certificates and no liability insurance at job sites involving cleaning up a speck of mold or bacteria (including category 3 water) are traps your insurance agent will need to fix for you. The other two, not being licensed as a pesticide applicator where a license is needed and the application of antimicrobials that is “a violation of federal law” are directly within your control. 


IRMI Article

By David Dybdahl

March 2021

Managing the Risks of Resiliency-Related Services

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This is an article for the contractors working to repair the effects of the 2021 winter storms. It contains useful information for the property owners as well.

Risk Management Considerations

Make sure that your insurance is fit for the purpose for which it is intended, many of the liability insurance policies sold to restoration contractors are not adequate to address the loss exposures commonly associated with restoration contracting.

Inform your insurance providers that you are performing CAT response work, especially if that work is outside of your normal operating territory. Adjustments to your insurance coverage are likely necessary.



Professional Liability Insurance

General Liability and Contractors Pollution Liability insurance policies routinely exclude losses from “Professional Services”. The IICRC Standards are “Professional” standards. Professional Liability insurance is available for no additional premium on the higher quality CPL+Professional liability and combined GL+CPL+Professional Liability policies designed specifically for restorers.

High-quality insurance with specialized coverage for biohazards is needed and readily available for the firms working to restore properties from the damages caused by the 2021 winter storms. It is especially important to address the biohazards on all losses involving water intrusion in the built environment.


Proactively Manage COVID-19 Risks in the Built Environment

By: David Dybdahl

Naive efforts to control the risks associated with a biohazard contamination in buildings can actually increase the risk of loss to the stakeholders in that building. A simple process of (1) do no harm, (2) utilize building cleaning and disinfecting sanitation procedures that are legally defensible in court, and (3) make sure the stakeholders are insurable and insured is an effective way to manage the coronavirus and other biohazards in buildings.

Through marketing hype and hoopla promoting a virus-free building, well-intentioned biohazard decontamination services providers can actually increase the hazards of virus contamination and, in doing so, significantly increase the risk of building owners and property managers. At a time when the owners and managers of buildings are uninsured for virus and other biohazard-related claims, finding cleaning and disinfecting services providers that are insured under specially modified CPL insurance is an essential and easy to implement risk management play. Hiring uninsurable contractors for biohazard decontamination work is a good way to make individual buildings and the services provided by property management companies uninsurable for biohazard risks as well.

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Production Opportunities in a slow market

 by: Dustin Helmenstine CIC,AINS

In this time of uncertainty, it is common for me to hear that new business pipelines are drying up. This makes sense because for as long as the insurance industry has been around, the main way to generate growth was through in-person networking. Just because that has been the model does not mean you cannot find new ways to generate growth.
As a millennial I find myself missing the traditional way of networking, who doesn’t love a happy hour, but it is important to realize just because the traditional way of generating growth has changed, doesn’t mean you cannot adjust and develop how you generate growth.
At the company I work for, American Risk Management Resources, we specialize in engineered environmental insurance placements that we sell on a wholesale basis. Through this pandemic we have been busier than ever because the retail producers we work with have done two things:

  • Used this time as an opportunity to review a client’s existing insurance program, and
  • Used this time to reach out to old connections to review their current insurance program to discover gaps in coverage created by exclusions for various contaminants that are universal in property and liability insurance policies.

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Dustin Helmenstine joined American Risk Management Resources Network, LLC in 2015. He works as an insurance broker specializing in environmental risk management and insurance. He works on insurance placements ranging from contractor’s pollution liability contractual requirements to the transfer of contaminated properties and the cleanup of superfund sites. He has provided support in the design of multiple insurance programs. Dustin is the lead researcher in support of expert witness engagements and risk management consulting projects with project values exceeding $10,000,0000. He has analyzed insurance coverage on over a thousand insurance policies and the financial stability of large, Fortune 500 companies as it pertains to their environmental risk exposures. Past clients include Minnesota’s Department of Commerce, the Michigan Department of Attorney General and Contractor Connections, the largest contractor insurance referral network. Dustin graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a bachelor’s degree in personal finance. He has completed his Certified Insurance Counselor (CIC) designation, Associates in General Insurance (AINS) designation and is working towards his Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter (CPCU) designation. He is currently a committee member of the IIAW Emerging Leaders and volunteers his time to the Sons of the American Legion and coaching youth basketball.


Property Insurance Coverage for COVID-19 aka Coronavirus

(Where the Hell is My Business Interruption Coverage?)

Author: Randy C. DeLopst, CPCU

Taurus Insurance & Risk Management Consulting, LLC

608-203-6357  Office

608-282-5854  Mobile

The Short Version of this Article
For a property insurance policy to provide coverage for claims arising out of a virus like COVID19, the following conditions must exist:
1. The state where the claim occurs must be one where courts would hold that the presence of a virus on insured property is “direct physical loss or damage”. Some states do and some states don’t. If the actual presence of the virus on the property is not verified, it will be very difficult to show there was a
“direct physical loss”.

2. The virus must be physically present on the Covered Property for loss of Business Income & Extra
Expense and Dependent Properties coverages to be triggered. It is very difficult to confirm the actual presence of a virus on a property. There are no simple tests. For Civil Authority coverage, the virus must be on property other than the properties at the described insured premises.

3. The state where the claim occurs must be one where courts would hold that a virus was not a “pollutant” under the policy’s pollution exclusion. Some states probably would and some probably wouldn’t. Is there is any case law on whether or not a virus is a “Pollutant” in property insurance policies? I could not find any such cases. 

4. The policy does not have any separate exclusions for viruses, microbes, microorganisms, microbial matter, microscopic organisms, biological agents, contamination or similar terms. Such policy exclusions would probably exclude coverage for virus claims. You will most likely need to look to the Environmental Impairment/Pollution (EIL) insurance market for reliable property coverage for virus claims. This EIL policy will need to clearly state that coverage is
provided for virus claims and be adapted for indoor use.


or those who want to dig a little deeper into the reasons for why a property policy is not reliable for a contamination- driven cause of loss like a virus, hang on to you hats, ingest lots of caffeine and read on.

March 31, 2020

Wayne Marsh


Warren Santiago



Ask the Expert: Liability Insurance Recommendations for Coronavirus Cleaning

Dave Dybdahl of ARMR Network answers three questions related to liability coverage and cleaning during the coronavirus pandemic: 

  1. What is the #1 question you are getting from your restoration clients?
  2. What are some of the “must haves” for liability insurance if you’re doing coronavirus cleaning?
  3. What are some helpful documents out there for contractors right now? (This is obviously the place to mention the RIA/IICRC doc)

Diving deeper into the discussion, here are some risk management tips for restorers going out in the field to conduct virus decontamination work:

  1. Job #1: Protect the workers. If your employees have not been trained on personal protection equipment, if your firm does not have the equipment and experience working with bio-hazards, this is not place for on the job training.
  2. Follow the guidance and advice offered in the new RIA and IICRC Preliminary Report for Restoration Contractors Assisting Clients With COVID-19 Concerns. This document was produced s specifically to help contractors mitigate risk. DOWNLOAD HERE.
  3. Get your insurance coverage in order. At a minimum, contractors should review their general liability, contractor’s pollution liability, professional liability, and workers’ compensation policies with an insurance agent or broker with specialized knowledge or access to specialized knowledge in restoration contracting and bio hazards. There is no training available for insurance agents on the specialized needs of restoration contractors. Which explains why more than 90% of restores are inadequately insured today, not just on biohazard work. If you do not have a Contractors Environmental or Contractors Pollution Policy with its own insuring agreement section, stop all biohazard jobs. Job site coverage extensions on the General Liability policy do not fulfill this requirement.


Opening My Business Again after the COVID-19 Shutdown.
Do I Have Liability
Insurance Coverage if a Customer Gets This Virus?

Quick answer: Your Insurance Company’s likely response: No or Hell No.

Who We Are

For a deeper dive into this issue, let’s analyze how a Liability insurance policy may respond to a bodily
injury claim arising out of COVID-19. Many Liability insurance policies use Insurance Services Office (ISO)
policy forms to provide Liability insurance coverage. As such, this is a reasonable place to begin a
discussion of how Liability insurance policies respond to COVID-19 claims

Read the full article here

Randy C. DeLopst, CPCU

Taurus Insurance & Risk Management Consulting, LLC,
8519 Reid Drive, Madison, Wisconsin 53717.
Phone: 608-282-5854

Edna Jennings


Trevor Ramsey



Confusing Insurance Terms

Seven words most don’t understand but are likely to encounter when dealing with insurance for their businesses. By Kari Dybdahl

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Dedicated to Quality

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Find Out More

Insurance industry jargon can seem like a whole different language, but I’m here to help with an explanation of seven terms!

Have you ever been speaking with your insurance agent or insurance company and found yourself completely confused? Don’t worry; you are not alone. Insurance industry jargon can seem like a whole different language, but I’m here to help with an explanation of seven terms you’re likely to hear when planning and handling your company’s insurance policy needs.

For More articles by Kari Click HERE

By Kari Dybdahl in CleanFax


Creating Opportunities from the Toxic Misperceptions of Environmental Risk Management

What are the toxic misperceptions held by insurance producers and how can you use them to your competitive advantage?

Extraordinary new business production opportunities are created by common misperceptions about environmental risks and insurance. The biggest challenge for new business producers is how do you create a competitive advantage in a business where your competitors likely have forgotten more than you have had time to learn in the insurance business.  There are few lines of coverage where that deep experience of the incumbent agent works against them. Environmental insurance is one place where that holds true.

Read The Full Article in Insurance Nerds HERE

There is no such thing as “virus” insurance!

David Dybdahl, CPCU, CIC, MBA, ARM

With this much economic disruption on the horizon,
insurance buyers are asking their insurance advisors
this question; “Am I covered by insurance”?

As specialists in environmental risk management, we are getting
the same question on an hourly basis from the insurance agents
and brokers that we serve.
In this writing, I will detail how to go about insuring losses arising
from a virus.
As it turns out there is potentially a lot insurance coverage
already in place for losses incurred from the Coronavirus. The
closer an insurance placement is to the standard ISO property
and liability insurance policy, the better off the insurance buyer
is going to be. In my research so far on this topic, if an insurance
company has deviated from ISO on a policy form in reference to a
virus caused loss, it has only been to eliminate coverage.


Similar to spinning the coverage wheel of fortune with the
totally unreliable coverage givebacks in common pollution
exclusions, trying to figure out a covered cause of loss arising
from a virus will lead to a lot of gray coverage areas. Avoiding gray
coverage areas is a very good idea because of insurance coverage
litigation on contamination caused losses can take a decade or
more to resolve in court, assuming the insurance buyer has the
funds and will to pursue the legal case for that long.
Having an affirmative coverage grant for virus as a cause of loss
would be much more reliable for everyone involved in a loss.
Those policies exist but are they not common in the world of environmental insurance. Environmental insurance coverage is
not a panacea.
Today, less than 5% of commercial properties are properly
insured for indoor air loss exposures. For the very few properties
that have EIL coverage on them today, if a virus is a covered
“pollutant” that could emit or discharge thereby triggering
the policy coverage, there is a 90% chance that policy has a
communicable disease exclusion thereby rendering it useless for a
loss caused by the Coronavirus.

Download the Full Guide HERE

1. Do not ignore the effects of Pollution/Fungus/Mold/Bacteria/Virus exclusions and sublimits in property and
liability insurance policies.
2. Explain the environmental loss exposure, the effects of exclusions, and sublimits in the current insurance
program to the customer.
3. Always recommend the purchase of environmental insurance. Doing otherwise takes on undue errors and
omission risks.
4. Offer to procure environmental insurance, to fill the identified coverage gaps, in the current insurance
program for an agreed upon target premium.
5. Only go to market to obtain a quote for insurance after steps 2,3 and 4 above have been completed.
6. Find qualified help in getting you through this process.


READ HERE: What we have done at ARMR to make the coverage interface between the traditional P&C insurance program and the gap-filling environmental coverage easier for our retail producers:


Engaging customer experience so that as an end result, we be CMSable. Leverage below the fold and finally gain traction. Generating bleeding edge and creating actionable insights.

Birdie Kelley

Brand Expert | Mantell Design

Generating best in class in order to improve overall outcomes. Inform outside the box thinking and finally target the low hanging fruit. Repurose big data and possibly gain traction.

Hattie Munoz

Support Staff | Gerwyn Financial