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What insurance should your builder have?

If you’re hiring a builder to work on your home, you’ll want to be confident they have the cover they need. Here’s what to look out for.

If you’re hiring a builder to work on your home, you’ll want to be confident they have the cover they need. Here’s what to look out for.

Written by
Helen Phipps
Insurance comparison expert
Last Updated
12 APRIL 2024
6 min read
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Do builders need insurance?

It’s essential the builder you hire has the right insurance to do the job.

Even if your builder comes highly recommended and you’ve been impressed by other jobs they’ve done, projects can sometimes go wrong. If that happens and your builder doesn’t have the right insurance, you could be seriously out of pocket.

Whether you’re planning a loft conversion, extension or all-out renovation, figuring out what insurance your builder should have is an important step to making sure your home improvement project runs smoothly – and safely.

What proof of insurance should my builder provide?

Before you hire a builder, check whether they have the following types of insurance in place:

Public liability insurance

This could cover any legal costs or compensation that might be payable if your builder’s work damages someone’s property, injures somebody or, worse, kills them.

A visitor, for example, might trip over tools that have been left in your hallway. Or a ladder could fall and smash your neighbour’s window.

Public liability insurance isn’t a legal requirement. But if your builder doesn’t have it, you might want to consider finding one that does. Alternatively, speak to your home insurance provider about arranging extra cover.

In a worst-case scenario, if something goes wrong and your builder isn’t covered, you could be taken to court.

Employers’ liability insurance

Employers’ liability insurance could cover your builder if one of their employees is killed, injured or falls ill as a result of their work.

Your builder is legally required to have employers’ liability insurance – with a minimum cover level of £5 million – if they have anyone working for them in the UK who isn’t a direct family member.

If they don’t have employers’ liability insurance, they risk a hefty fine of up to £2,500 for every day they’re not properly insured. And as the homeowner, you too risk being sued if the builder you contracted doesn’t have the right cover.

Contract works insurance

What if a storm destroys your builder’s work before it’s complete and your existing home insurance won’t cover it? Contract works insurance covers works in progress in case your builder needs to repair or re-do work after damage by fire, flood or vandalism, for example.

Sometimes known as Contractor’s All Risk cover, this type of insurance could be especially important if you’re planning a big, expensive renovation project. If your builder doesn’t have a policy in place, you may want to look for cover yourself.

Professional indemnity insurance

If your builder is giving you professional advice or doing any of the technical design work involved in the build, you may want to check they have professional indemnity insurance in place.

This could cover them if their professional negligence or bad advice causes you financial loss. And it could provide compensation to you to help fix their mistake.

However, it’s important to note that professional indemnity insurance won’t cover you if the builder simply does shoddy work.

Building guarantees and warranties

It’s going to be a major headache if the building firm you’re using goes bust before they finish the job. An insurance-backed building guarantee could cover your costs if this happens to you.

Meanwhile, if you’re planning any big renovation projects or extensions that could affect the structure of your home, a builder’s warranty could offer you protection in case any work is faulty.

Your builder may offer guarantees or warranties as part of the job. Either way, it’s worth asking them for one. Be sure to check what’s covered and how long any warranties are valid.

How do I know my builder has insurance? 

The short answer is that you don’t, unless you ask to see their certificates and policies.

All reputable tradespeople will be happy to show you any necessary paperwork. When you take a look, make sure the builder’s insurance policy is valid and will remain valid for the length of your project.

Be wary of any tradesperson that says they have insurance but can’t provide any evidence of it.

Home insurance during renovations

In addition to checking that your builder has the right insurance, it’s also important you tell your home insurance provider about any work you’re having done.

Depending on your project, this may mean you have to pay a little more for your cover or that restrictions are added to the policy.

If you don’t tell your home insurance provider about any building projects, there is a risk your policy will be invalidated.

As well as making sure your home insurance provider is aware of the work you’re having done, you could look into taking out accidental damage insurance to make sure your contents are protected from any related mishaps.

You could also check what legal cover is included in your policy. This could help you take legal action against a builder or tradesperson who doesn’t do their job properly.

If you’ve had major works done – for example, you’ve increased the size of your home – you may also need to update your home insurance to ensure you have the right amount of cover for your new and improved home.

For more information, read our guide on how home improvements can affect your home insurance.

Frequently asked questions

Why do builders need insurance?

Building work is inherently risky, which is why you’ll want to know that your builders are protected with the right insurance should anything go wrong during your project. That way, in the event of an accident, you won’t have to worry about paying for any damage as your builder’s insurance should cover any third-party costs.

What can I do if my builder won’t provide proof of insurance?

If a builder refuses to show you their insurance certificates, consider this a red flag and think twice before hiring them. A reputable builder won’t mind showing you proof of insurance and will understand why you want to see it.

It’s important to make sure your builder signs a contract before starting work, and there should be no reason why they can’t email you copies of their insurance certificates along with the contract.

What do I do if there’s an accident while a builder is working at my house?

Once you’ve ensured that everyone’s either safe and well, or getting the medical treatment they need, you’ll need to check the terms of your insurance. What happens next will depend on the causes and circumstances of the accident.

If there’s negligence or liability on your part, you may need to seek legal advice or at least speak to your insurance provider. Similarly, if your builder’s at fault, they’ll need to speak to their insurance provider.

If I’m injured as a result of my builder’s work, can I claim compensation?

If your builder’s work is shoddy and you end up injured as a result, you could be eligible for compensation. Similarly, if you trip over some unattended tools or break your ankle falling into a hole, for example, you could make a personal injury claim against your builder for failing to protect you from harm.

Whether you’re due a payment will depend on what happened and how you’re affected. In the first instance, you’ll need to seek legal advice.

Do builders have to guarantee their work?

Under the Consumer Rights Act of 2015 (and before that the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982), builders have a legal responsibility to carry out the work they’re contracted to do with ‘reasonable care and skill’. That means if you’re not satisfied that the job they’ve done is worth what you’ve paid, you have the right to either ask them to fix the problem or request a refund.

If the builder has done anything unsafe or dangerous, you can report them to trading standards.

To avoid any disputes about what is expected from a builder down the line, it’s good practice to have a formal written contract before the job starts. That way, you can clearly evidence what’s been agreed if problems do arise.

Citizens Advice have helpful information on what to include in a contract.

If you need advice on handling a dispute with a builder or tradesperson, you can contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline.

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Helen Phipps - insurance expert

Having worked in both sides of the industry, Helen’s a real insurance expert. She’s worked directly with several insurance providers and now Compare the Market. She’s always searching for the cheapest prices for customers and is passionate about saving people money. Being married with two kids, Helen knows all about the cost of living and the benefits of having the right products and insurance for the whole family.

Learn more about Helen

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