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

I live in a suburban neighborhood where I am known as Mr. Wizard or the mad scientist. I occasionally run my big SGTC (8 foot sparks) in my backyard. The neighbors always come over to watch and love it. I suppose there is the remote possibility that one of them could be hurt by it somehow even though I take extensive precautions. I don't know if my homeowner's insurance would cover that, but I am willing to take that small risk because if we let the lawyers and insurance companies dictate everything that we do, then nothing will be fun or interesting. I have always believed that almost everything in life that is really fun or very interesting has an element of risk to it. If other people want to go through life wrapped in 12 inches of bubble wrap then let them but their life will be pretty boring. I suppose if I wanted complete assurance, I would not let anyone come into my yard to watch my coil. If I did that, I would be the only person that ever saw it and what would be the point of even building it?

On a related topic my brother, and others, at various times have suggested that I contact the local TV station to see if they wanted the news department to do a story about my big SGTC. I have even thought of that myself because I live in a small city where no one else does this sort of thing. But then I have second thoughts about the publicity. Before I built this coil, I read the city ordinances in fine detail. There is nothing in there to prevent me from operating this coil in my backyard other than if someone made a noise complaint, which has never happened. I have been operating this coil for about a year with no problems, at most once every few months. But then I think if a news story about it was broadcast, then there would suddenly be a swarm of "safety police" coming out of the woodwork trying to figure out a way to shut me down possibly resulting in a new city ordnance specifically aimed at me. Or my homeowner's insurance company hearing about it and canceling my policy. Because of these possibilities, I just let people know by word of mouth that I will be operating my coil on a certain day if they want to watch. Last Halloween I ran it for several hours with hundreds of people stopping by to view.


----- Original Message -----
From: "jimlux" <jimlux@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
To: tesla@xxxxxxxxxx
Sent: Saturday, April 28, 2018 1:29:14 PM
Subject: [TCML] liability coverage was Re:  Pole Transformers for sale

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

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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