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[TCML] liability coverage was Re: Pole Transformers for sale

On 4/28/18 10:25 AM, Edward Wingate wrote:

The reason T&R quit selling to individuals is because they were threatened with a lawsuit. Why would they subject themselves to huge lawsuits for the profit on a single pole transformer when they can sell dozens at a time to entities who use them as intended....on top of a power pole, not as a power supply for a Tesla coil where the potential for an accident is high. Not to mention a use the pole transformer was never designed for. It has nothing to do with absurd or ignorant sales terms, it has to do with corporate well-being.

Condenser Products stopped selling to individuals for the same reason, they were threatened with a lawsuit. I worked with them to get a TC line of capacitors, which was for naught after that happened.

Bottom line is if an individual buys dangerous commercial products from a supplier who is willing to sell to them and gets hurt they need to lick their wounds and move on, not threaten litigation and ruin it for everyone else.

It's called personal responsibility! A commodity that is currently in short supply.

Indeed, but sometimes, it's out of the original person's hands (i.e. the dead or injured coiler) - Once the "bad thing" happens, and there's insurance payouts (i.e. medical or life insurance), there's a sort of "casting about for other sources of funds" on the part of the insurance company.

The coiler may have been perfectly happy to accept responsibility, they probably even signed pieces of paper saying that. But that doesn't stop the filing of claims (or subsequent lawsuits) to try and recover the costs incident to the event. The cost to make the claim and threaten the law suit is small, even if ultimately, the claim is found to be unfounded. But the company has to deal with it anyway (or, in most cases, their liability insurance carrier deals with it).

This afflicts a lot of "dangerous activities" - people who provide resources to such activities (horse riding instructors, for instance) carry big liability policies, which might have small premiums, depending on the *actual* loss exposure and the *number* of claims - The insurance company has finely calibrated the cost to beat back unfounded claims and the cost of actual damages - if you're in a field where claims are common and payouts not, your premiums will reflect the cost to defend the claims and get them rejected.

More to the point with a company like T&R - their liability coverage might specify that they will defend claims from conventional customers (utilities, electrical contractors), but not unusual customers (Joe off the street).

Often, the "mark of trust" is possessing an appropriate business or professional license. Or, a Seller's Permit (allowing you to buy and resell, and collect Sales Tax)

For instance, around here (Southern California), there's a lot of electrical supply places that will only sell to you if you have an appropriate contractor's license (like a C10 (electrical), C-46(Solar), or maybe a B (general building)) . Or, if you work it, you're licensed as a Professional Engineer, but oddly, in California, having a PE doesn't make it legal for you to do electrical work - I have a PE license, and I can do designs and drawings, and I can supervise such work, but I cannot actually perform the work.

As it happens, also, your liability insurance carrier might put the kibosh on work that they view has unknown risk. When last I looked into it (about 15-20 years ago), my insurance carrier said that doing Tesla coil designs and safety analysis did NOT fall within the area they felt comfortable insuring. So if I had a client who wanted such work done, I'd have to work out some sort of contractual arrangement for them to indemnify me against claims coming out of the work.

And I'd want to see that client entity have sufficient liability cover for such things (kind of like being a "named insured") - the client would send me a certificate from their insurance company saying "James Lux, PE is covered for risks A, and B, and C under policy XYZ") This is actually a pretty standard thing - when I was in the effects business, rental yards for stuff like bucket lifts and forklifts would require our insurance company to send over a certificate identifying the rental company as a named insured on our liability policy.

I would imagine ATTI and similar companies have spent serious time, effort, and money getting suitable liability coverage (or having a contractual way to solve the problem). You'll note that Jeff Parisse (former TCML member) calls out "Risk Analysis and Mitigation" as a skill set on his website. That's part of the commercial game - you've got to have process and analysis and so forth pretty well nailed down to get the insurance company to buy off.

Individuals typically will not have this ability - I suppose you could go to your homeowner's company and get them to cover it.. people do it when they do things like hire rental halls for a big party, but that's a sort of known risk - there would be rules about dispensing of alcohol, etc. - but for Tesla coils?

But, as a result, I would NEVER engage in professional consulting for an individual interested in Tesla coiling. I'm overjoyed to give advice and opinions, but when it comes to putting a stamp or signature on a piece of paper, that's only going to happen with a lot of other paperwork around it.

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