Is my driveway insured?

Damage to your driveway or landscaping is the number one question most people ask about when talking insurance on a crane lift. What is worst, most people assume the wrong answer is the correct one. The quick answer is a hard “NO”, your driveway is NOT insured. No crane company in their right mind would insure the ground under the crane. All crane companies and insurance companies would rather not do your job, then assume that risk. That makes it your problem, not theirs.

Why is my driveway not insured?

Cranes are generally, always a last resort for getting something in, due to the cost involved. Large cranes weight more then full cement trucks, because of all the counter weight in them to keep them from tipping over. The longer the reach required and the heavier the object being craned, the more force (pressure) the crane places on the ground. Now every job is completely different, and how does anyone calculate that force and how much force your ground can take?

Next, the crane operator is not Superman and does not have x-ray vision to see what is going on underground. The crane operator has absolutely no idea how strong your ground or driveway is and how much force it can handle. They could make a guess, but that is all it would be, a rough guess based on previous experiences based on the current ground surface of what they are seeing. That guess could be 100% wrong and no one will know for certain until you try and it is too late. What makes it even harder to guess, are all the hidden unknown factors. Temperature, water density, base materials under the ground, thickness of the driveway or base ground material layers, how well they were packed when laid, all play major factors. Since some of these factors change by the hour, like temperature and water saturation, what could be solid this morning, could be an accident waiting to happen this afternoon.

Some real examples how and why operators have no idea of ground strength.

The most destructive factor is water saturation. Have you ever noticed the difference on an outdoor sports field of a dry day vs. a wet day? On a dry day, the ground is rock solid, you would probably scrap your knee if you slid on the grass. On a wet day, everything is soft, slippery and mushy, you are less likely to hurt yourself if you slid on the grass and you would probably slide a longer distance leaving a nice mud trail for everyone to see with the grass half ripped up. That could be your ground.

Temperature also ranks high as a very important factor. In the winter, the ground is frozen solid, less likely to move. At the same time, it also can make certain things more brittle and more likely to crack. Is it freezing or thawing? Temperature changes by the minute/hour, what is good now, might not be in an hour from now.

The original construction of your driveway and where in it is in its current life cycle, also plays an important roll. Anyone in construction, will tell you, the quality of the base underneath, means everything to the strength of the ground or driveway, but who can see the base? Is it rock, sand, aggregate, top soil underneath and for how many inches thick is it? Has it settled? Was it laid yesterday or last year? No crane operator has any idea how well your driveway was built, how much force it was designed to handle and how much force it can handle right this second. Nobody knows that by looking at it and asking anyone to guess and make a decision on your behalf is totally unfair. That is your responsibility know or make that guess, not theirs. It is your property, your call, and your responsibility whether you would like to risk it.

Why take the risk?

This is a question that only you can answer. How badly do you want this job done? What are you willing to do to get it done? If the ground shifts, moves, cracks, that is just a cost of doing this job that you need to budget for. You plan for the worst and hope for the best. If you are not prepared to take that risk and pay those costs to fix it up afterwards if the worst case scenario occurs, you should not do it.

I hope this helps you understand why your ground or driveway is not insured when a crane travels over it. If you have questions, talk to the crane company, they will be happy to share their previous experiences with you. Just remember, their previous experiences, may not be your current experience. They are only helping you guess the outcome based on other jobs that they have done. They have no idea what the final outcome will be, until the crane lift is done and everyone can look and see for themselves.