Cellphone network towers present a broad range of risks for many parties. That’s why companies in the telecommunications industry need specialized risk management and insurance coverage.
Erecting and operating a cell tower involves many parties as well as exposures to different types of risks, which require coverage lines such as personal, property, criminal, and more. To provide the right protection, telecom insurance policies must include all these risks. Let’s take a look at some of the basic requirements to protect your people as well as your valuable investment.
Coverage for All Parties
The first thing a telecom insurance provider must recognize is the number of parties involved, which includes:
- The owner of the property where the tower is located
- The owner of the cell tower itself
- The operators and users of the tower and its telecommunications systems
- Workers who build, repair, and maintain the tower and property
- Neighboring property owners, residents, and those who work nearby
- In rare cases, passersby
The risks themselves vary widely from equipment malfunction to personal injury to automotive accidents, e.g., a tower in a busy city can be hit by a car.
Risks During Construction
During the construction phase for a cell tower, telecom insurance must reflect the numbers of people and range of equipment involved. Policies should take into consideration and cover vehicles, equipment, and tools; general liability and coverage for theft and other crime; and the property and buildings where the tower is being constructed upon.
Telecom insurance must extend to all parties, including all subcontractors, subsidiaries, and affiliate companies of the network operator and the property owner and their employees. Look for a blanket waiver of subrogation favoring the tower owner, subsidiaries and affiliates, the contractor, and subcontractors.
Risks After Construction
Policies should extend into the time period after construction is completed and cover the property owner and tower operator, their equipment, and employees.
Workers who climb cell towers to do repairs or maintenance face an extremely high accident rate. In 2008, the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) called the job one of the “most dangerous in America” due to the number of fatalities, which is more than ten times the rate for construction workers. Rigorous adherence to safety regulations has improved things since then. However, OSHA reported seven tower structure related fatalities in the U.S. in 2019 so far, according to Wireless Estimator.
In addition to falls, cell tower workers face other hazards such as burns from powerful radiofrequency (RF) radiation. This exposure to risk raises premiums for telecom insurance, and carriers have made their underwriting guidelines more stringent. Before signing an agreement with an insurance provider, check the policy for any gaps in coverage per contract for products and completed operations, errors and omissions, action over exclusion, types of automobiles, and other factors.
Talk to a Telecom Insurance Specialist
While insurance can be complicated, remember that premiums should be based on exposure to risk. For example, a tower erected on a large parcel of otherwise unoccupied land would have less exposure and, therefore, should have lower insurance costs, than a large tower erected in a busy city neighborhood.
Before you sign a contract for telecom insurance, talk to an independent insurance expert experience in the telecom industry. He or she can point out gaps in coverage and suggest riders or extensions to cover the risks for your particular circumstances. They also can guide you in multistate coverage, where different laws and regulations can have a profound impact on telecom insurance.
With more than four decades of combined experience in the telecommunications industry, we understand the complexity of erecting and operating cell towers. Give us a call or send us an email to talk about your needs.