Construction Contractor Insurance Trends and Tips

Construction Contractor Insurance Trends and Tips

Recent years saw surges in the cost of different types of insurance due to inflation, interest rates, the skilled labor market (or lack thereof), supply chain issues, and an increase in lawsuits and related six, seven, and eight-figure awards. While a couple of sources indicate the construction contractor insurance market may be stabilizing, there are other rumblings about continuing and emerging challenges specific to New York.

In the U.S., rates for workers’ compensation coverage appear to be the most grounded, especially for contractors with a favorable loss history. While some in this situation may see premiums stay flat or increase slightly, average increases are expected to be around 5%. Rates for general liability coverage and umbrella policy rate increases are expected to increase between 5% and 15%, while commercial auto coverage may average a 10% to 15% increase. (Source: Insurance Marketplace Realities Spring Update 2024, May 8, 2024.)

It will be interesting to see how this translates to coverage in New York, where some sources indicate contractors should prepare for double-digit increases upon renewal and potentially face a harder time securing coverage, especially if they have a history of losses.

A new report by the New York Civil Justice Institute asserts, “Construction insurance costs are highest in New York representing 12.5% of a project’s cost versus 2.5% in nearby states like CT, NJ, and PA.” It names the litigious environment and state laws for minimum insurance as two of the main cost drivers. It also says, “New York State is the most expensive insurance market in the country. In nearly every category of insurance coverage — from medicine to construction – insurance premiums (and the losses that drive them) are higher in New York than any other state in the United States.”

With a growing number of insurers paying out more in claims, verdicts, and settlements than what they receive in premiums in New York, there’s concern that more insurers will exit the market and leave people and businesses struggling to find coverage and keep it. Some are even calling it a crisis.

When it comes to escalating premiums for contractors in New York, many blame the state’s Scaffold Law (which holds contractors 100% liable for gravity-related injuries) for enabling dubious lawsuits and nuclear awards. While there is currently a bill making its way through the NY Assembly that would make staged construction site falls a felony, the push for reform has been an uphill battle for several years.

As the situation continues to play out in board rooms, courtrooms, and on legislative floors, a two-pronged strategy – focused on coverage and culture – may help contractors manage insurance premiums (and increases) while protecting their businesses, employees, and brand.

When it comes to coverage, it’s tempting to offset insurance premium increases with higher deductibles, lower coverage and/or more exclusions. Be sure to balance these considerations with what increased risks and exposure can mean to your business. Other ways to try and manage these costs include starting to shop around early (i.e., 90 days before a renewal); leveraging programs available through professional affiliations; and seeing if discounts are available for paying in full upfront rather than monthly. While some insurers (especially those new in the market) may make enticing offers, be sure to research rankings, customer experiences, customer service, and financial ability to cover losses before moving ahead.

As for culture, make safety an innate part of how you do business. Ensure recruiting processes help you hire the right people with the right skills and experience (yes, it’s tough in today’s labor market but worth the extra effort). Do your background research on subcontractors and work with legal counsel to make sure contracts address safety, injuries, and indemnification. Consider hiring a safety/risk manager to develop and oversee comprehensive safety plans for people, facilities, and equipment. Explore how technologies like drones, robotics, and wearables may mitigate loss while improving your risk profile.

Finally, keep an eye on developments. With so many factors influencing the New York contractor insurance arena, staying informed can help you make sound decisions for your business and employees.

Key Considerations When Renovating, Buying, or Building a Vet Facility

Key Considerations When Renovating, Buying, or Building a Vet Facility

Updating an existing facility or buying or building a new one is an exciting time in any business’s journey. Taking the time to understand the many facets of this venture can save you time, money, customers, taxes, and more.

Here are some considerations as you get started…

What’s your short- and long-term business strategy and goals, and how will the upgraded/new facility support them?

Are you looking for a facelift and to maintain the status quo or do you have plans to improve service and productivity, accommodate more clients, or expand your offerings? How does this align with and support your exit plan?

How can a renovation or new facility enhance your brand and reputation?

The customer experience you create and deliver can be enhanced with the right design and execution. For example, if you want to allow clients to visually or physically accompany pets throughout visits, an open-concept design or glass walls may be in your future.

What’s your budget?

Developing a budget enables you to set realistic parameters for your project and helps you prioritize where to invest so you get the biggest return on investment. It also helps when it comes to determining the best way to finance and pay for the upgrade.

What’s on your wish list?

Maybe you’ve always wanted a triage area or more on-site diagnostic capabilities. Perhaps you want your passion for sustainability and the environment reflected in your facility (i.e., covered parking spaces with solar panels powering your facility). Is it time to upgrade your technology infrastructure to promote paperless transactions and communications, while allowing pet owners to work while waiting?

Is talent recruitment and retention a priority?

Consider how a renovation can enhance your employee experience with upgrades like lockers to store personal items; a break room that really provides a break; an outdoor mental health space; or a private nursing area.

Be prepared to consider a lot of details.

How can your facility design foster patient flow from arrival through treatment and payment? Do you need a triage area with easy access to a lab and x-rays? Do your pharmacy and retail items need to be located by where customers checkout and pay? How about the outside of the facility – from parking to walkways and awnings? What about isolation areas, lighting, flooring, noise control, ventilation, storage, security, cleaning, and sanitation requirements? Patient flow, functionality, and safety should be top of mind.

How will it impact your clients and business today?

Can you still conduct business while a renovation is taking place? Will the number of clients you treat, the services you provide, or your revenue be affected?

Should you engage professionals who specialize in renovating or building veterinary facilities?

Companies and people who find and oversee the renovation or building of veterinary facilities know the ins and outs, from regulations, zoning, and codes to location, planning, design, and execution. Talking to these professionals can help you better understand everything involved in a renovation, purchase, or build. Engaging them frees you up to continue focusing on your practice while having a partner to help you navigate the process.

Do you know the tax strategies, credits, deductions, and options are available?

Your renovations and improvements may qualify for Section 179D and Section 179 deductions for things like furniture and equipment; computers and software; machinery and medical equipment; security and HVAC systems; roofs; fire protection systems; and more. There are efficient energy deductions and solar incentives available to consider as well. For example, are you contemplating installing electric car chargers at your facility? You could benefit from certain tax incentives in the year of installation. Also, employing cost segregation can make a difference when it comes to writing off costs. Some elements of your renovations and improvements can be eligible for accelerated depreciation methods so a cost segregation could lead to accelerated tax benefits and increased cash flow.

If you’re considering renovations, moving, or building a new facility, please remember, RBT CPAs professionals are available to help you with budget creation and tracking; tax strategy; and more. We are also available to support all of your accounting, tax, audit, and advisory needs. We’ve been proudly serving municipalities, businesses, non-profits, and individuals in the Hudson Valley for over 55 years. Please don’t hesitate to give us a call and find out how we can be Remarkably Better Together.


RBT CPAs is proud to say 100% of its work is prepared in America. Our company does not offshore work, so you always know who is handling your confidential financial data.

Post April 15: Is It Time to Adjust Your Business Tax Strategy?

Post April 15: Is It Time to Adjust Your Business Tax Strategy?

Now that another tax season is wrapped up and the impact on your business is top of mind, consider taking some time to evaluate whether your tax strategy is supporting your business goals or whether you should consider making adjustments. (Even if you filed an extension for your 2023 tax returns, it’s still a good idea to check in on your tax strategy to maximize what you can do in 2024.)

First, conduct a thorough review of your 2023 tax returns. Were you happy with the outcome? Did you pay more in taxes than you expected? Did you take maximum advantage of tax deductions and credits? What changes would better help support your business plans for 2024 and over the long term?

Next, consider your business growth strategy. Is your business expanding? Do you plan to invest in new assets or hire more employees? Are there tax opportunities to support your goals?

Also, take a closer look at your estimated tax payments. If your business income is fluctuating, you may need to adjust payments accordingly. Remember that estimated tax payments are not set in stone. They can and should be adjusted based on changes in income, expenses, or changes in tax law.

Finally, be proactive so you can maximize opportunities to reduce tax liabilities. Some things to consider:

  • Is it time to upgrade or expand your facility and take advantage of beneficial tax treatment for energy-efficient renovations? Security and HVAC systems, fire protection systems, and structural improvements to non-residential buildings may qualify for a Section 179 deduction.
  • Do you need new (or used) equipment? Most small and medium-sized businesses qualify for Section 179 deductions for the cost of office furniture and equipment; computers and software; certain vehicles; machinery and equipment and other property used for business. Just be sure to put any eligible purchases into service before December 31, 2024, to be eligible for the 60% bonus deduction (which drops to 40% in 2025; 20% in 2026; and expires thereafter).
  • Are you stepping up research activities and maximizing related payroll tax credits you may be eligible for?
  • Are you staffing up? Hiring targeted workers can earn tax credits for your business.
  • Should you offer a qualified retirement plan, a Section 125 plan for health and dependent care expenses, or educational assistance (which can also be used to pay off student loans through 2025)? Not only will these benefits support recruitment and retention, but your business can get a tax deduction for contributions.
  • Do you have an accountable plan for employees’ business expenses? Should you? You get to deduct the expenses and you and your employees don’t have to pay withholding or FICA taxes (as reimbursement is not treated as income).

While April 15th signifies the end of tax season, it should also mark the beginning of proactive tax planning for the remainder of the year. To ensure your business is taking full advantage of all tax benefits and staying compliant with changing tax rules, RBT CPAs is here to help.

Make the most of the rest of 2024 when it comes to your tax strategy, credits, incentives, and deductions. Schedule a tax review and planning session with one of our tax or advisory professionals, click here. That way you can find out how we can be Remarkably Better Together.


RBT CPAs is proud to say 100% of its work is prepared in America. Our company does not offshore work, so you always know who is handling your confidential financial data.

Know Your Numbers: The Importance of Monitoring Food, Labor, and Operation Costs

Know Your Numbers: The Importance of Monitoring Food, Labor, and Operation Costs

Forecasting, tracking, and managing food costs, labor costs, and operation costs helps foster strong financial management during the best of times. These actions take on a whole other level of importance during the uncertain times we’re navigating today.

With food prices up 25% since 2020 and labor costs up an estimated 25% due to the tight talent market and mandatory wage increases, restaurant owners are being challenged like never before. Keeping a close eye on key numbers can help restaurant owners make informed decisions to help protect profits and drive success.

While there are numerous metrics to track financial performance, for restaurants the top three focus on food, labor, and operations.

Food cost is the total expense incurred for the ingredients used in preparing a dish. It is a significant factor affecting a restaurant’s profitability as it directly influences the pricing of menu items. For example, if a dish costs $5 to prepare and sells for $15, the food cost percentage is 33%.

Ways to manage food costs include negotiating prices with suppliers, strengthening inventory management, recipe costing (down to the ingredient and portion size), joining a purchasing program, taking a more flexible approach to creating a menu, and regularly reviewing menu pricing based on market fluctuations.

A daily review of Cost of Goods Sold (CoGs) – the total cost of food and drinks served in a day – can help you spot rising costs, make adjustments, and prevent over-ordering and waste. Staff can help manage costs by avoiding over-portioning, preventing waste, and getting orders right the first time.

Labor cost, on the other hand, encompasses all expenses related to staffing, including wages, benefits, payroll taxes, and training. In a labor-intensive industry, these costs can quickly escalate and impact profitability. You can manage these costs by optimizing scheduling to prevent overstaffing during quiet periods and understaffing during peak times, cross-training staff in multiple roles, retaining high-performing employees and implementing efficient processes to reduce the time taken to perform tasks.

You may also want to consider how technology can help boost productivity and lower labor costs, with self-service ordering options and kiosks; online reservation systems; dynamic menus linked to QR codes; pay-at-the-table tools; and more data to forecast more accurate scheduling.

Operating cost refers to the total expenses related to housing the restaurant. This includes rent or mortgage payments, property taxes, utilities, and maintenance. Ways to manage these costs include negotiating lease terms, improving energy efficiency to lower utility costs, and performing regular maintenance to prevent costly repairs.

Knowing your numbers provides several benefits. First, it aids in pricing decisions. By understanding the costs involved in creating a dish, restaurants can price menu items appropriately to ensure profitability. Second, it helps identify inefficiencies. High food costs may indicate waste or theft, high labor costs could point to overstaffing, and high operating costs might mean it’s time to renegotiate a lease. Finally, monitoring these costs allows for better budgeting and forecasting, enabling restaurant owners to plan for the future and make informed business decisions.

If you need assistance tracking, monitoring, and evaluating costs, RBT CPAs are available to help you manage the financial side of your business with accounting, audit, taxes, and advisory services. Let us know what you need so we can show you how we can be Remarkably Better Together.


RBT CPAs is proud to say 100% of its work is prepared in America. Our company does not offshore work, so you always know who is handling your confidential financial data.

Keeping Up with Evolving Cybersecurity Plans and Resources

Keeping Up with Evolving Cybersecurity Plans and Resources

While Federal and New York state cybersecurity efforts have made huge strides over the past several years, a report issued by the New York State Comptroller last October indicated cyberattacks are continuing at alarming rates, with attacks on critical infrastructure in New York almost doubling in the first half of 2023.

There are numerous reasons why New York businesses, infrastructure, individuals, and government operations are so attractive to cyber criminals who are constantly evolving their tactics and prompting an all-hands-on-board mentality at the Federal and state levels. Here are highlights of strategies, resources, and initiatives to strengthen and leverage cybersecurity across the country and New York.

  • New York’s Joint Security Operations Center opened in February of 2022 to provide a statewide view of threats and better coordinate threat intelligence and incident response. A few months later, New York named the state’s first Chief Cyber Officer – Colin Ahern — to oversee cyber threat assessment, mitigation, and response efforts.
  • The White House released the country’s first National Cybersecurity Strategy in March of 2023.
  • New York Governor Hochul released the New York State Cybersecurity Strategy in August of 2023.
  • In October 2023, the Office of the New York State Comptroller issued a Cyber Profile Report focusing on NY local government and school cybersecurity, challenges, and resources.
  • Earlier this year, Governor Hochul announced almost $6 million from the federal State and Local Cybersecurity Grant Program (SLCGP) will be used to support local governments by expanding access to cybersecurity information, tools, resources, and services. To help the local government build a baseline of security, the state will be offering shared services initiatives for multi-factor authentication (MFA); scholarships for cybersecurity certification; and employee cybersecurity awareness training. Eligible entities were invited to submit an interest form earlier this year and a Cybersecurity Grant Plan application is expected to be forthcoming.
  • Last week, 68 of the worlds’ leading manufacturers of software committed to CISA’s Secure by Design Pledge to promote greater security built into products.
  • On May 8, the Office of the National Cyber Director (ONCD) released the 2024 Report on the Cybersecurity Posture of the United States, providing an update and identifying five trends driving change: risks to critical infrastructure; the continuing ransomware threat; supply chain exploitation; a growing market for commercial spyware; and the evolution of artificial intelligence.

If you’re looking to bolster your municipality’s cyber awareness and defenses, the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), “offers a range of cyber and physical services to support the security and resilience of critical infrastructure owners and operators and state, local, tribal, and territorial partners.” You may also want to visit the NYS Office of Information Technology Services Local Government Cybersecurity webpage, which provides access to online training, information resources, cybersecurity awareness, and cybersecurity toolkits for local government.

If you need to free up time to focus on cybersecurity, RBT CPAs are available to support your accounting, audit, advisory, and tax needs. Let us know what you need so we can show you how we can be Remarkably Better Together.


RBT CPAs is proud to say 100% of its work is prepared in America. Our company does not offshore work, so you always know who is handling your confidential financial data.

Trust that Your Financial Legacy Carries On with the Right Type of Trust

Trust that Your Financial Legacy Carries On with the Right Type of Trust

Different types of trusts are available to help ensure your long-term financial legacy is honored and more of your assets go to the people or causes you care about, rather than taxes.

At the simplest level, a trust is a legal arrangement that gives you, another person, or an institution the ability to manage your money or other assets (like stocks, bonds, real estate, art, jewelry, heirlooms, furniture, and life insurance) for your benefit or the benefit of others, during your lifetime and/or upon your death.

There are two basic types of trusts. Revocable trusts can be changed or amended after they are created; irrevocable trusts cannot (with few exceptions, based on state law). These trusts operate similarly to a will, with one key difference: upon your death, assets in a trust are not subject to probate.

Probate is a legally required process that follows one’s death to confirm a will is valid and that the executor carries it out based on the decedent’s wishes. Probate can take several weeks to several months or even longer in cases where the will is disputed. During the probate process, all of the decedent’s assets and wishes are made public. Having a trust helps you – and your beneficiaries – avoid the probate process altogether.

With a revocable trust, you name a trustee to manage its assets. You are still viewed as the owner of the assets and can make changes at any time. You remain responsible for any applicable taxes. You decide what happens to your trust upon your death. One option is to close the trust and have all assets distributed to beneficiaries. Another option is to have your trust automatically create irrevocable trusts for the people or institutions you name (this type of trust is called a testamentary trust).

When it comes to an irrevocable trust, your assets are moved into a trust managed by a trustee you name. You cannot make any changes or amendments once the trust is created. The trustee takes over all responsibility for the assets, including paying any required taxes; you give up your assets and all control over them. While the trustee can distribute income to you if authorized by the trust agreement, he/she will not distribute principal to you – you are putting 100% trust in that person.

This can sound scary, but it also gives you a way to protect assets while addressing other needs. For example, you may have to spend most of your assets before Medicaid will cover any of your long-term healthcare needs (whether at home or in a nursing home). However, if you open a Medicaid Asset Protection Trust – a type of irrevocable trust – at least five years before requiring care, you may be eligible to receive long-term care benefits via Medicaid and protect your assets at the same time.

Another good example of how a trust can protect assets while addressing other needs relates to a special needs child. If a special needs child is gifted money, they may be disqualified from receiving public assistance. However, a special needs trust allows you to gift money to a special needs child without impacting their eligibility for public programs like Social Security and Medicaid.

There are trusts that protect assets from claims of future lawsuits or creditors; trusts to benefit qualified charities; trusts to protect against reaching the lifetime gift tax exemption; trusts that transfer wealth across generations without tax implications; trusts for beneficiaries who aren’t great managing money or who have multiple creditors; trusts to protect a spouse or family members from high estate taxes; family trusts; funeral trusts; land and life insurance trusts; residence and property trusts; pet trusts; and more, depending on the state where you live.

There is no minimum amount of assets required to open a trust. You do have to cover related legal fees, which can run upwards of $1,000 (or significantly more depending on your total assets and wishes). In general, if you have more than $100,000 in assets and real estate (i.e., a home), you may want to evaluate how the cost of setting up a trust compares to potential tax and other savings. We can help.

We are RBT CPAs Gift, Estate, and Tax practice professionals. We help clients define their financial goals, understand and weigh their options, and develop an estate plan. We are not lawyers; we are accountants and financial planning experts. We can work with your attorney or refer you to one, and we can review legal documents to make sure they accurately reflect your wishes. We can meet with you annually to review your estate plan, ensuring it’s on track to reflect your wishes and is adapted to address any tax law changes that occurred during the year.

If you want to learn more about how we can be Remarkably Better Together, please don’t hesitate to give us a call or send us a message.


RBT CPAs is proud to say 100% of its work is prepared in America. Our company does not offshore work, so you always know who is handling your confidential financial data.

Employee Business Expenses: Know Your Options and Responsibilities

Employee Business Expenses: Know Your Options and Responsibilities

As a general contractor, you likely have multiple employees at multiple worksites incurring expenses related to meals, communications, travel, accommodations, and more. It’s important to understand your responsibilities and tax-related options for these expenses, and how they impact employees.

In general, you can handle expenses using an accountable plan and/or a non-accountable plan.

With an accountable plan, reimbursement for eligible expenses is not treated as part of payroll, so they aren’t taxable for you or your employees. What’s more, you get to deduct payments made to employees as a business expense (meal expenses are subject to the 50% limit). To qualify, an accountable plan must meet all of these criteria:

  • Exist to reimburse employees for allowable business expenses paid or incurred in their performance of services as employees;
  • Clearly identify plan payments;
  • Require any expense being reimbursed to be substantiated with information about the amount, time, place, and purpose of the expense; and
  • Require employees to return any portion of an allowance for days or miles of travel not substantiated within a reasonable time.

An accountable plan allows you to reimburse eligible expenses directly, per diem (at or below rates set by the U.S. General Services Administration each fiscal year – otherwise, amounts above those rates are treated as taxable income – and only for certain types of expenses), or with company assets.

If the arrangement does not meet all of the accountable plan criteria, it is considered a non-accountable plan. In this case, you provide a flat dollar allowance for expenses. Employees do not have to account for how the allowance is used (so no expense accounts or receipts are required). Sounds simple, but there are trade-offs.

The allowance is considered part of compensation. You can deduct it as part of payroll, but you are also on the line for withholding and FICA taxes. What’s more, any pay-related coverage like workers’ compensation insurance may cost more to reflect the additional “pay.” For employees, the allowance is considered taxable income and appears on their W-2s. Through 2025, employees cannot deduct any of these expenses on their personal income tax returns.

Important Note! You can no longer claim any miscellaneous itemized deductions that are subject to the 2%-of-AGI limitation, including unreimbursed employee expenses.

In addition to understanding the different types of business expense reimbursement plans, it’s important to know that there are a lot of rules for different types of expenses. Take mileage, for example. Not all miles for work-related travel are reimbursable. Instead, eligibility depends on whether work is at a regular workplace (a place where an employee performs work for longer than a year); a temporary workplace (work is expected to be performed for a year or less); an indefinite workplace (work is expected to take more than a year); or multiple locations.

Mileage is considered an eligible business expense for:

  • Travel from an employee’s regular work location to a temporary work location
  • Travel from home to a temporary work location if the employee has a regular work location
  • Travel between multiple work locations

Mileage is not considered an eligible business expense for:

  • Travel between an employee’s home and regular work location
  • Travel from home to a temporary work location if the employee has no regular work location (unless travel is outside of the normal work area)

If a company-owned vehicle is provided for travel, a whole other set of considerations apply. There are also several layers of rules for the reimbursement and tax treatment of lodging and fringe benefits.

One closing thought – having the right software solution (i.e., Expensify, Docyt, and Navan) to help your employees track and submit receipts and expenses is critical. Without proper documentation, an income tax or workers’ compensation audit may lead to the identification of expense reimbursements as additional employee compensation.

Your current and future business plans and goals play an important role in determining how to handle employee expenses. RBT CPAs business advisory and tax professionals are available to work with you to evaluate your options and determine the best strategy for your business and employees. Let us know if you want to get the process started and see how we can be Remarkably Better Together.


RBT CPAs is proud to say 100% of its work is prepared in America. Our company does not offshore work, so you always know who is handling your confidential financial data.