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What is Bridge Insurance?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 14 November 2016
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Bridge insurance is an insurance product that covers bridges, both during construction and once they are in use. Public works projects, like bridges, are very expensive to build and if problems occur during construction or after the bridge is put in service, the repairs can quickly become extremely costly. Bridge insurance provides a mechanism for paying for these problems so that taxpayer monies do not have to be used.

For bridges under construction, bridge insurance is taken out by contractors, and the government agency handling the contract may take out a supplemental insurance. This insurance covers injuries that occur during construction, work stoppages, and other problems that may develop. Without insurance, a contractor could be in big financial trouble if there is a problem with the construction of the bridge. The insurance does not cover losses that are the result of negligence, fraud, and/or other illegal activities.

Once a bridge is put in service, bridge insurance taken out by government agencies pays for the bridge in the event that it needs to be replaced or repaired. Insurance policies usually exclude damage or destruction caused by acts of war, normal wear and tear, and inherent defects in construction. Things like flooding, unusual weather conditions, and accidents that cause damage to the bridge will be covered under the policy. If a bridge needs retrofitting, the insurance policy will usually not cover it, as this is a separate operating expense.

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Bridge insurance is a rather unique insurance product and it is not available through all insurers. The cost and value of the policy vary depending on the value of the bridge, as determined by an assessment performed by the insurance company, and other factors. For example, a bridge in a flood plain is obviously at increased risk of damage by flooding and thus a policy that covers floods will be more expensive.

Policies of this type need to be written with a specific bridge in mind. Governments and contractors in need of bridge insurance meet with the insurance company to discuss the specifics. Once a policy has been written up, it is usually reviewed by an attorney to confirm that it will meet the needs of the party purchasing insurance. If there are disputes about coverage or clauses in the contract, these will be addressed before the policy will be endorsed and purchased. Development of an insurance policy can happen very early during the planning stages to ensure that the bridge will be fully insured as soon as possible.

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