Get control of your manufacturing insurance rates

Posted in: Commercial Insurance

Many of my manufacturing clients are interested in learning more about how their annual insurance premiums are determined and why their rates can vary significantly from year-to-year.

A number of factors impact your company’s rate. The two most significant factors considered by the insurance carrier’s underwriter include your historical loss experience and the inherent exposures associated with the nature of your daily operation.

Although it is hard to change the past or drastically overhaul your business, the good news is that there are a number of best practices you can implement today to mitigate your future exposures and minimize your losses. Below, I provide some practical steps you can implement to help manage the costs of your core business insurance policies.    

Property Insurance

Minimize some of your most prevalent risks, such as fire and theft that are covered by your property policy:

  • Check your electrical and sprinkler systems periodically to protect against power surges and fire. Your exposure to a fire incident is especially high, if you are operating large amounts of new high-tech equipment in an older building with an electric system that is not up to code and could overheat and short circuit. Make sure fire prevention devices are located near the areas that would require the most immediate attention, clearly marked and not obstructed.
  • If working with flammable materials, keep your equipment that produces heat or sparks in a separate area. Train your team what to do in the event of a fire.
  • Install a security system to help protect against burglary and break-ins. This positively impacts your insurance rate in two ways: 1) carriers typically provide a discount for purchasing a security system that will help offset the system’s cost, and 2) it will also improve your overall risk profile, which can further lower your rate.

Equipment / Inland Marine Insurance

Equipment breakdown or loss is inevitable in any manufacturing operation, which can increase your rate. To keep costs at bay:

  • Provide a list of all equipment used in your operation to your insurance carrier. It is especially important they are aware of unique machines or equipment so you can secure sufficiently tailored coverage. Such equipment is considered high risk because in the event of a breakdown, fixing or replacing it, or finding a third party operation to complete your product could be expensive.

General Liability Insurance

Insurance carriers typically apply discretionary credits to the cost of your General Liability insurance when you implement three of the most critical procedures:

  • Implement a written quality control process for all products manufactured at your facility, which should include assigning batch numbers to your goods. This can help track and promptly recall faulty products to reduce the number of injuries, complaints and potential lawsuits.
  • Review your product recall policies periodically. It is important to keep all terms and conditions up to date to properly handle a recall and protect your business from consumer claims.
  • Verify Certificates of Insurance from all vendors and suppliers to make sure they have proper coverage and sufficient limits for product liability. If these parties are not adequately insured and they supply you with a faulty product, you could be held responsible for their mistakes.

Workers Compensation

Manufacturing is one of the industries most prone to accidents and injuries on the job. Implementing a comprehensive and formal safety program can help keep your employees safe and your insurance costs low. Consider the following when designing your program:

  • Have your employees wear personal protective equipment (PPE) such as steel toe boots, hard hats, safety glasses and other protective garments.
  • Enforce proper lifting techniques and provide formal training.
  • Have designated areas for eye wash stations and first aid.
  • Create a formal Return to Work and Light Duty program to get employees back on the job quickly and smoothly. This is a win-win solution that allows employees to work while still recovering, retain their income and help boost productivity.
  • Conduct periodic and pre-employment background checks and drug testing.
  • Make sure you enforce sound lockout/tag out policies and procedures to safeguard workers from injuries when fixing or maintaining any equipment.


Your commercial auto policy rate can be affected by your employees’ personal and business driving records.

  • Review motor vehicle records (MVR) at least once a year to ensure your employees driving any company vehicle or their personal auto for business purposes maintain a clean record.
  • Implement a formal Vehicle Safety Manual specifying driving best practices including a hands free device protocol, using business vehicles for personal purposes and proper reporting of claims.

In my experience companies that have implemented these practices have typically saved up to tens of thousands of dollars compared to those that didn’t. While this list is a good starting point for your organization, there is a lot more you can do. For a comprehensive list and further recommendations to lower your overall exposures and costs, please contact me at