The New York City crane collapse of 2023

August 11, 2023

The iconic New York City skyline is renowned for its dazzling lights, towering skyscrapers—and unfortunately its unsightly construction cranes and scaffolding.

On July 26, 2023, a crane—situated atop a 45-story building in Midtown Manhattan—abruptly caught fire and partially collapsed, sending the crane’s arm and its 16-ton concrete load into an adjacent building, before barreling to the street below. The catastrophe injured nine civilians and three firefighters. While thankfully there were no fatalities or serious injuries, the aftermath encompassed extensive property damage and injuries to individuals, foreshadowing an increase in insurance claims stemming from this accident.

Which policy responds …

Insurance claims across several insurance lines, including general liability, workers’ compensation, and commercial and personal auto insurance are inevitable.

First, the crane operator’s general liability insurance will be responsible for covering any property damage and personal injuries to civilians. According to the New York City Building department, for every project operating a tower crane, the project is required to have a general liability insurance policy of $80 million regardless of the permit or scope of work.[1]

Second, the next policy will be the workers’ compensation, which is designed to provide medical benefits, lost wages, and rehabilitation services to injured workers, regardless of fault. In this case, a minimum of four workers’ compensation policies potentially could be triggered. Three policies pertain to the valiant FDNY firefighters injured during their response to the crane incident, while a minimum of one policy concerns the worker who was engulfed by the fire on the crane’s platform. Moreover, potential additional workers’ compensation claims could derive from ground-level workers impacted by the disconnected crane and falling debris.

Third, this situation will lead to commercial- and personal-lines policyholders initiating claims through their insurance providers.

Lessons to learn

In the heart of the Concrete Jungle’s remarkable skyline, the 2023 crane incident serves as a vivid reminder of the juxtaposition of magnificence and vulnerability that defines urban landscapes.

While the 2023 crane collapse resulted in non-life-threatening injuries and extensive property damage, the absence of fatalities is miraculous.

The surge in insurance claims, spanning a spectrum of insurance lines, underscores the integral role of insurance in alleviating the aftermath of unforeseen events.


[1] https://www.nyc.gov/site/buildings/industry/general-liability-insurance.page

Theophilus Alexander
PIA Northeast

Theophilus W. Alexander joined PIA Northeast as a government & industry affairs specialist for the Government & Industry Affairs Department in 2023. Prior to joining PIA, Theo had served in both houses of the New York State Legislature. Previously, he worked as a legislative analyst for Hon. New York State Sen. Samra G. Brouk, D-55, and he served at the New York State Assembly, as a policy analyst with New York Assembly Program & Counsel. Theo received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Politics from Ithaca College in Ithaca, N.Y.

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