What insurance should your builder have?

Planning a building project? How do you know your builder has all the cover they need to protect your property and keep you safe? Here’s what to look out for.

Planning a building project? How do you know your builder has all the cover they need to protect your property and keep you safe? Here’s what to look out for.

Chris King
Home insurance expert
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Last Updated 13 MAY 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 what happens if something goes wrong? This is where insurance comes in.

What proof of insurance should my builder provide? 

As a homeowner, you’ll want to know that any tradespeople you employ have the right cover in place. Here’s what they’re likely to need: 

Public liability insurance

This type of insurance covers legal and compensation costs if your builder’s work damages someone’s property, or even injures or kills them. For example, a ladder could fall and smash through your neighbour’s window or a visitor might trip over tools left in your driveway.

Public liability insurance isn’t a legal requirement, but if your builder doesn’t have it, consider taking it out 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, 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 is there to cover works in progress if they have to be repaired or re-done because of a 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 halfway through the works. One way to guard against the impact of this is an insurance-backed building guarantee. Similarly, having a warranty in place could cover you against faulty work.

You may find that your builder offers you these 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.

Asking about insurance is one of the first steps you should take before hiring your builder, and a reputable tradesman will be happy to show you their certificates. When you look, check to see how long their policies are valid.

Home insurance during renovations

You must let your home insurance provider know exactly what work you’re having done so your policy remains valid, and they may add restrictions to your cover until it’s completed.

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.

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 renovations. That way, in the event of an accident, you won’t have to worry about paying for any damage as your builder’s insurance could cover 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 employing them.

It’s important to make sure that 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 safe and well, 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’re injured as a result of your builder’s negligence – let’s say, 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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