What insurance should your builder have?

If you’re hiring a builder to work on your home, you’ll want to be confident they’ve got all the cover they need to keep you and your property safe. 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’ve got all the cover they need to keep you and your property safe. Here’s what to look out for.

Rachel Lacey
Insurance and money expert
5
minute read
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Last Updated 1 DECEMBER 2022

Do builders need insurance?

Whether you’re planning a loft conversion, extension or all-out renovation, you’ll want your home improvement project to run smoothly.

But even if your builder comes highly recommended and you’ve been impressed by other jobs they’ve done, projects can sometimes go wrong.

This is why it’s essential the builder you hire has the right insurance to do the job.

What proof of insurance should my builder provide?

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

Public liability insurance

This type of insurance covers any legal costs or compensation that could be payable if your builder’s work damages somebody’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, so if your builder doesn’t have it, you might want to consider arranging it yourself. 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 covers your builder if one of their employees is killed or injured as a result of their work.

Your builder is legally required to have employers’ liability insurance if they have anyone working for them who isn’t a direct family member.

If they don’t have employers’ liability insurance they risk a hefty fine. And you don’t want to risk being sued if your builder doesn’t have the right cover.

Contract works insurance

What if a storm destroys your builder’s work before it’s finished 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.

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 will cover your costs if this happens to you. While a warranty offers 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 all the necessary paperwork. When you look make sure the cover is still valid.

Be wary of any tradesperson that says they have insurance but isn’t able to 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 bit 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.

You could look into taking out accidental damage insurance and legal cover in case there’s a problem with the work. But be sure to check the policy documents carefully as there may be certain exclusions, such as being unable to claim for defective workmanship or disputes with tradesmen.

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 pad.

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 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?

A reputable builder won’t mind showing you proof of insurance and will understand why you want to see it.

If your builder refuses to show you their insurance certificates, consider this a red flag and think twice before hiring them.

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 own 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 – you could make a personal injury claim against your builder.

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.

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