Construction Risk

Identifying Your Business Risk Liabilities

Construction is a high-risk business, from the types of work being done to the financial uncertainty of payments and potential for lawsuits. Insurers and surety companies view risk in terms of exposure to possible losses. Some losses have a higher probability of occurring than others, and some will have greater consequences for your business.

What are the risk categories to consider?

When identifying and analyzing risk, it’s helpful to see how risks fit into categories. Here are some you should consider as you begin to identify your own project risks. Use this checklist to look at your construction business through a risk liability lens.

  • Technical risks — poor design, insufficient site investigation, inadequate specifications or unavailability of materials
  • Logistical risks — lack of equipment, spare parts, fuel, labor or transportation
  • Construction risks — uncertainty of supplies, worksite injuries and accidents, negligence, construction defects, and weather and seasonal uncertainty
  • Contractual risks — legal and regulatory issues, and contract and labor disputes
  • Financial risks — cost escalation, delays in payment, rising interest rates, lack of sales or unmanaged growth
  • Project risks — improper management, inadequate allocation of resources, and unrealistic schedules or schedule changes
  • Political risks — zoning disputes, lack of funding for public projects or political unrest
  • Competitive risks — pressure to underbid a competitor, lack of profitability or being overextended
  • Ethical risks — pressure to engage in political games or win bids using questionable tactics that could put current and future contract engagements at risk

Categories and sub-categories of risk

Now that you’ve made notes on the categories of risk for your construction business, take the next step. Write down your risk areas and organize them. This checklist will help you identify specific liabilities.

  • Write a description of each risk.
  • What’s the likelihood that the risk will occur (low, medium, high)?
  • What’s the potential impact on your business (low, medium, high)?
  • How would the risk affect your workers or subcontractors?
  • How would it affect scheduling?
  • How would it affect the quality of materials?
  • What about the safety of the job site?
  • What actions can be taken to mitigate the risk (options to correct or transfer the risk elsewhere)?
  • What are the early warning signs of liability (several recurring accidents, invoices rarely go out on time, contracts are incorrect)?
  • What methods would be used to communicate the risk, once recognized?
  • Who owns the risk category and what methods are used to handle risks previously reported to the owner?
  • What contingency plans or written guides are in place?
  • How are the steps of the written plan communicated (formal training)?

Consider how critical each of these areas is to the success of the job. You may and it helpful to create a table that lists each project area and its relative importance (low, medium, high).

Sample risk exposure and business impact assessment

Risk areaLiability exposureBusiness impactEasy to correct?Action plan
No formal employee trainingWorkplace injury resulting in higher workers’ compensation premiums or risk pools  HighYes — employee training is controllableEstablish training program
Tornadoes at certain worksitesTornadoes are seasonal — we have protocols in place and commercial property insurance coverage LowNo — weather is uncontrollableTransfer risk to insurance

Once you’ve figured out the risks, liabilities, and potential business impact, move on to assembling a risk management team to figure out the details of your risk management plan. Use a risk management team checklist to help you and your team develop your plan. For more information on OneGroup’s risk management capabilities, click here.

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out at your convenience.

For more information please contact Brett Findlay, Vice President Business Risk Specialist at (315) 280-6376 or

This content is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing professional, financial, medical or legal advice. You should contact your licensed professional to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Please refer to your policy contract for any specific information or questions on applicability of coverage.

Please note coverage can not be bound or a claim reported without written acknowledgment from a OneGroup Representative.

Written content in blog post: Copyright © 2020 Applied Systems, Inc. All rights reserved.