The average commercial premium for a solar-energy policy is $5,000 to $15,000 a year, says William Dyer, commercial-lines coverage specialist and vice president and co-founder of HCP National Insurance Services Inc. in Aliso Viejo, Calif. Liability limits can reach up to $20 million for inland marine policies and up to $100 million for property, Dyer says.
HCP has about 15 renewable-energy customers nationwide, ranging from small side businesses to large solar-power plants. Clients include installers, who physically place wind turbines and solar panels for customer use, to alternate-energy generators that produce electricity.
Dyer urges clean-energy principals to talk to local insurance brokers who specialize in this area to make sure they are well covered. “Our biggest challenge is getting [renewable energy] policyholders to understand that what they have is not what they need,” he says.
Several carriers offer insurance packages for the alternative energy industry, including Lloyd’s of London, One Beacon, ACE Westchester, Markel, Chartis and Starr Indemnity. “There’s lots of capital right now because the industry is still in its infancy,” Dyer says. Yet, “A lot of people are buying the wrong coverages because they don’t even know this exists.
Business Interruption could come into play in solar installations if panels are installed improperly or a lightning bolt hits the solar panels. Workers Comp is starting to grow; yet solar installers are often mistakenly rated as roofers but have more exposures. That can include Professional Liability (re: advice given on the amount of electricity generated), or not applying for a customer’s green-energy rebate. “That’s an E&O risk,” he says.