Why You Need Site Insurance

Protek’s Simon Middleton reveals how to make sure your home building project is properly covered, even before it begins
Protek self-build insurance
by Protek
20th January 2022

Site insurance is a crucial consideration for anyone planning any kind of home building or improvement project.

Whether you are undertaking major alterations to a building, remodelling or creating a home from scratch, you are likely to have exposure to risks which may not immediately be apparent.

Those can start many months before works actually get started on site, so you need to make sure you have an adequate insurance policy in place.

Understand where your responsibility lies

Unless the project is a new build, being constructed by a fully insured main contractor from start to finish under the provision of a written contract, then you are usually going to have overall responsibility.

This is especially true if you are managing the project yourself, hiring trades as required, or where a contractor is building the shell so that you can finish it off. If there is any element of retained existing structure, like in a conversion, then site insurance will become very important as you will need to cover the new and existing works.

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Remember that site insurance isn’t just for self builds. A small extension project can create more liability exposure to you than a major new build development. That’s because your original home could be damaged or perhaps even destroyed during the build, and conventional home insurance isn’t designed to cover a construction project.

For example, you may be placing foundations alongside your neighbour’s property. If you cause movement and subsequent damage to it, then you will be liable for putting it right. Even simple issues like concrete splashed on a neighbour’s car or mud left on a road following deliveries can quickly turn into an uncomfortable liability situation.

So, when do you need to get it in place?

It really depends on when your exposure to risk starts, and every project is different. Therefore, it is important to discuss your project with a provider like Protek who genuinely understands the risks you face.

If you have any Party Wall Liability exposure, then you will need to communicate this early on and get cover in place well before any works start on site.

How to mitigate risk on site

It might seem like common sense, but don’t put cardboard boxes on the other side of any lovely, glazed doors, because a thief will break into it, just to see what’s inside.

Try to avoid becoming a burgling opportunity. Take note of people coming to site – get names and ID – so they’re less likely to blab about what they’ve seen.

If you’re hiring plant, tools or equipment, you’re responsible for it. That means if it gets stolen, you will need to replace it. You’ll also be liable for the continuing hire charges until it has been replaced – which is why Protek offer that as standard if you request cover for own or hired plant.

NEED TO KNOW: Don’t rely on your contractor’s insurance

Time after time I speak to self builders and home improvers at events who tell me that their contractors are fully insured or that their home insurance will be covering them.

In the vast majority of cases contractors only have public liability, which will not provide you with any protection unless the contractor was found to be negligent.

Unfortunately, proving that is not straightforward. A flooded project could simply be as a result of impact damage to a pipe, it’s not negligence on a contractor that can easily be proven.

If you are going down the turnkey route, check your contractor has got contractor’s all-risk coverage, and get a contract in place.

Similarly, your home insurance might cover some of the extension, but probably not the extent of work you’ll be undertaking – it’s so important to realise what is excluded under a home insurance policy, frequently ‘alteration’ is one of the key ones to consider.

Cover for the works, materials, plant, tools or equipment, will be insured on an indemnity basis, not new for old. So, you need to be able to evidence any money you’ve spent and keep receipts as evidence of value.

Make sure you insure the overall project for professional reinstatement (what you would pay for a builder to do all the works) – don’t rely on your build costs alone as you could end up underinsured.

If you’re managing the project, you’re also responsible for health and safety. Which means you can be held liable for injury to the public or workers as a result of an incident on your site. Get a risk assessment and check out the HSE website for some great guides.

If you’ve got friends helping out on site, they should be covered under employer’s liability, which must include volunteer workers, not just paid ones.

What to do if you suffer a loss

Advise your insurer within the terms of your insurance. Don’t try to make a claim months after the event. Act as if you’re uninsured; take photographs and keep the receipts for any extra measures you need to take. For example, if you need to buy pumps and dehumidifiers after suffering a flood, those costs can be recoverable as part of the claim.

Simon Middleton is managing director at Protek Group. He has been underwriting site insurance and structural warranties for over 26 years.


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