Empowering Crane Owners: Next-Gen Risk Management for Enhanced Control Over Costs


By Kevin Cunningham

Over the past 27 years, from 1996 to 2023, commercial insurers have designed and administered crane risk management with a focus mainly on crane insurance.

Insurer–controlled risk management served a purpose then, but today’s altogether different business environment warrants a different approach to crane risk management.

Today’s dramatically changing crane insurance marketplace can best be described as “disrupted,” with significant changes in rates, available options, and reduced coverage limits that hurt all crane operators across the country.

Righting the Ship in the Midst of Storm

Recent record-high loss settlements like those in the Seattle and Dallas incidents, as well as changes in ownership of major insurance providers and the resulting shortage of insurance carriers, are driving traditional insurers to focus on their own survival, rather than providing the kind of risk-management support they used to. 

Traditional insurers’ focus on “righting their ships in the midst of a storm,” have diminished the real-life risk management support they give crane owners.

NextGen Owner-Controlled Crane Risk Management

The time has come for the next generation of crane owners to control their own destiny by managing crane risk themselves, instead of relying on insurance providers to do it for them. This is especially true thanks to recent innovations in software and technology.

Certainly, any insurance provider will benefit from its customer reducing crane risk factors, but the responsibility for improving safety is — and really always has been — on the crane owner to manage risk factors in their operations, with their people, operating their equipment.

Today, the insurance company receives the value of the crane owners’ success at risk management, rather than the insurer being the crane owner’s primary provider of risk management services.

That evolution is a strong incentive for the next generation of crane owners to use today’s software and technology innovations to help save lives and contain litigation in their crane operations in 2024 and beyond.

By relying on themselves to manage risk, crane owners drive the process instead of relying on third-party insurance providers. Crane owners and crane insurers should both benefit from this next-gen-owner-controlled method of managing crane risk. 

As incidents and their related costs go down, insurers should have fewer claims to pay, and crane owners should see premiums decrease accordingly.

The innovative components of NextGen, Owner-Controlled Crane Risk Management Software Systems include:

  • Crane Risk Analytics
  • Crane Risk Mitigation
  • Crane Risk Culture
  • Crane Risk Evaluator 

Self-Insured Retention Increases Create Opportunity for “Special Forces” Style Risk Mitigation

Since the crane insurance marketplace has become a “hard market” practically overnight with significant renewal rate increases and limited capacity restrictions, the natural outcome has been crane customers taking on more risk through increased Self-Insured Retention levels to offset these current market conditions.

This Self-Insured Retention factor has opened opportunities for crane owners to receive and utilize “Special-Forces style” crane risk mitigation protocols to protect their interests beyond traditional insurance methods, through the innovative CRL Incident Response Protocols that is being introduced currently into our crane marketplace:

Contract Support System for Increased Risk Mitigation

The absolute foundation for effective crane risk mitigation begins with how crane owners administer their daily work tickets.

A properly designed crane work ticket system goes well beyond providing a single document to a crane customer.

Today’s Next Gen Crane Risk Manage-ment includes crane owners’ recognition and ongoing diligence in their own contract administration that uses the proven and copyrighted “RCM Contract Risk Management” methodology.

RCM refers to attorney Robert C. Moore, who invented the crane industry’s state-of-the-art crane work ticket system.

This system delivers multi-faceted contractual protection to crane owners through a defined, systematic resource that includes:

  • A 50-state compendium of state-specific insurance and indemnification language to protect crane owners’ interests.
  • A separate Terms and Conditions library of contract protections that tracks directly with the compendium intelligence mentioned above.
  • A unique, user-friendly, systematic process that makes it easy for crane customers to upload contract intelligence onto their company servers so they can use it for daily work tickets that match the requirements of the jurisdictions where they work.
  • A layman’s explanation for the use of ‘Incorporation by Reference’ features and method for crane owners’ administration of this progressive legal protection via their own internal company technology resources.
  • A summary legal description checklist of existing crane customer work ticket language to identify areas needed for contract upgrades.
  • An immediate contract review of a work ticket involved in ongoing incidents incurred using this contract risk service via CRL / RCM Contract Risk Support System.

This contract risk management resource is where the previous article’s topic on Borrowed Servant Doctrine had originated from with regard to attorney Robert C. Moore as one of our industry’s pioneers in crane risk management.

How Positive Crane Risk Culture Affects Safety

Crane owners regularly ask what, really, is “culture?” Culture has been defined as “shared behaviors, beliefs, attitudes, and values regarding organizational goals, functions, and procedures” (Cooper, 2000).

It is seen in how your people do their jobs. People act on their perceptions of what they are expected to do to achieve their organization’s goals.

Culture has also been defined in terms of what an organization “is” — the values, attitudes, and beliefs of the people in it, and what an organization “has” in its procedures, policies, and activities — to guide and direct its people to achieve its values (Reason, 1998).

Culture can be thought of as consisting of psychological, behavioral, and situational elements … all of which continuously interact with each other. A continuous measurement process of each variable (psychological, behavioral, situational) can positively influence your company’s safety performance.

Culture itself is intangible. But it resides in your people’s heads – as their personal values, beliefs, attitudes, knowledge, and experiences. It is embodied in people’s words and actions and in organizational decisions and documentation. Measure for aspects of culture can be developed from what your people and your organizations say and do, along with their reported perceptions, attitudes, and beliefs.

The key to measuring and then managing safety behaviors is identifying what behaviors drive safety performance in an organization, measuring those specific behaviors, while encouraging wanted behaviors and discouraging unwanted behaviors. 

Your people are able to respond to crane risks when they accurately understand and evaluate the risks they are dealing with daily in their job functions, in addition to when they are “pushed” by the safety culture to act to effectively mitigate the risk.

Measures should address all aspects of crane operations to give an understanding as to the best areas for intervention to improve safety performance in those areas over time.

The “NextGen Crane Risk Management” method involves “righting the ship” with the currently broken legal/insurance system, and that it can be done by crane owners taking control of their own risk management destiny with innovative software-based risk mitigation solutions.

Reliance on insurance providers for tangible risk management improvements to counter the extreme legal verdicts against crane owners in today’s disrupted marketplace needs progressive change.

In conclusion, using new tech solutions in contract risk, loss mitigation, and culture upgrades will support the transition of risk improvement controls back into crane owners’ hands to make a measurable difference going forward. 

Kevin Cunningham is president and CEO of Crane Risk Logic Inc., and has 27 years of experience in crane risk management. He can be reached at kcunningham@cranerisklogic.com.


Crane Hot Line is part of the Catalyst Communications Network publication family.