Dear YouDig?

Dear YouDig?,

We thought we had insurance coverage if a subcontractor screws up. Now we hear that the Ohio Supreme Court says we might not? What is going on? I would never be caught dead without comprehensive insurance. I don’t want my tombstone epitaph to read, HE DIDN’T BUY THE INSURANCE.

-In Good Hands?
Dear In Good Hands,

You are not in good hands. It’s a matter of a few months or weeks or even days when you may get burned. Sorry to give you this news. I suggest you get your affairs in order and focus on the quality of life … that is … IF you don’t act immediately to maximize your efforts for protection.

The problem? I don’t want to bore you with fine line elaboration but the Ohio Supreme Court issued a ruling in October of 2018, which sent the Ohio construction industry in a tizzy when it ruled that claims against general contractors based on the poor workmanship of their subs is not a “fortuitous” event and therefore not a covered “occurrence” under most CGL policies. This creates a major problem. Who pays for the subcontractor’s mistakes if its insurance company won’t? … Yep …you’ve got it … YOU DO!

Save yourself by setting up a meeting with your liability insurance agent and your lawyer immediately. The law is in flux and there are measures that you can use to limit the risks and, perhaps even eliminate it through contractual language, modified endorsements and practical risk aversion habits and policies you should incorporate in all your work.   Stay Alive, YouDig?

John Swansinger is the author and founder of YouDig and is a partner in Buckingham, Doolittle & Burrough, LLC‘s real estate and construction practice group. He works with contractors, developers and construction owners on construction law issues including construction contracts, commercial agreements, construction litigation, subcontractor issues, insurance liability, breach of contract and more. He can be reached at or 216.615.7356.

YouDig is an online resource that connects the construction community with vital issues affecting the industry and is a component of the business law firm Buckingham, Doolittle & Burroughs, LLC that is specifically geared toward construction.