What insurance should a builder have?

Kim Jones
Kim Jones
Updated 17 January 2022  | 4 mins read

Renovating your home is always exciting and although building work can cause mess and disruption, the end results are usually worth it.

However, things can go wrong in even the most meticulously planned builds.

So, it’s important to check that your builder has adequate insurance to protect against any unfortunate mishaps, accidents, injuries or building blunders that may occur.

Key points

  • Though it’s not a legal requirement, most reputable builders should have public liability insurance
  • If your builder doesn’t have the right insurance, you may be liable to pay damages if someone’s hurt during building work on your home
  • You’ll need to let your own home insurance provider know about any intended renovation work to make sure you’re covered

What insurance should my builder have?

It isn’t a legal obligation for your builder to have all the following types of cover, but you may want to ask what insurance they do have to give you peace of mind during your renovation:

Public liability insurance

This will cover the cost of any legal proceedings and compensation claims if someone is hurt or even killed because of your builder’s work, or if someone else’s property is damaged.

For example, a brick may fall from scaffolding and hit a passer-by or a ladder might fall onto your neighbour’s car.

If your builder doesn’t have this type of insurance, then you could be liable. So, you may want to think about taking it out yourself.

Employers’ liability insurance

If your builder employs any staff, then they legally must have this insurance in place. It covers damages, compensation, and legal costs if an employee sues the builder for illness or injury at work.

You’ll want to make sure they have this cover, or you’ll leave yourself at risk of being sued.

Professional indemnity insurance

This insurance is invaluable if your builder provides professional advice and guidance on a project’s design.

It can provide protection if a customer takes legal action against the builder because they feel they’ve been given damaging advice or there’s been errors in their work.

Contract works insurance

This type of insurance covers ongoing building work if it’s damaged by an insured event, like a fire, storm, flood or vandalism.

For example, if an extension that’s half-built is destroyed by a fire, it will pay out for the work to be repaired and redone up to the point when the fire started.

Tools and equipment insurance

If your builder’s vital tools are stolen, this type of insurance will pay out for replacement equipment, so they can carry on with urgent jobs.

Insurance-backed guarantees

This will honour the terms of your builder’s original warranty if the work they’ve completed has, or develops, faults and the builder goes out of business or ceases trading.

How do I find out if my builder has insurance?

Most reputable builders will be happy to show you their certificates of insurance if you ask to see them.

Remember to check that the names on the insurance certificate match those you have contracted to do the work and that the insurance will be valid for the duration of your building work.

You might also want to call the insurance company to confirm the policy with them and to check that the work you’re having done is covered.

Tips for choosing a builder

It can be difficult to know who to trust when it comes to house renovations, so here are a few tips to get you started:

Get recommendations

Personal recommendations are always good, so get details of contractors from friends and family who’ve been happy with recent building work. You could also ask other trusted tradesmen you use for their recommendations.

Similarly, if you’ve seen building work in your area that you’re impressed with, knock on doors to ask the homeowners to share details of their builder.

Ask to see recent work

A reliable builder should be happy to show you examples of recent projects they’ve completed. They should also be able to provide testimonials from satisfied customers and even put you in touch with clients who’ve had work done.

Check for membership of reputable trade associations

Builders that are members of the Federation of Master Builders, for example, need to pass a vetting process to join and must undergo regular inspections.

You can use their Find a Builder tool to search for Master Builders in your area. Other reputable trade associations include the Guild of Builders & Contractors.

Get full contact details and the address of the business

Don’t be fobbed off with just a mobile number. Get a full address and landline for the company. You need to be sure you can contact them easily if any problems arise.

Ask if the builder offers guarantees

Warranties and insurance-backed guarantees can protect you if faults crop up down the line.

Check they have insurance in place

This could be important for protecting you, the public and the builders themselves if an accident happens or someone is injured while building work is taking place.

Home insurance and renovations

Accidents happen and things can get damaged during any type of building work. These risks mean your home insurance may not cover you.

Plus, your policy could become invalid if you move out of your home for more than 30 or 60 days (depending on your policy’s terms and conditions) while building work is underway.

Always tell your insurer about any renovations you’re making at home - especially big projects like an extension or loft conversion. Otherwise, you could risk your policy becoming invalid.

You’ll likely be covered for cosmetic work like having a new kitchen or bathroom fitted, but for other structural work, you may have to pay an extra premium during or after the work. You may even need to take out a specialist renovation insurance policy.

Your insurer will want to know how long the work will take to complete, the cost of it and whether you’ll be living at home during the work.

They’ll also want to know the builder’s details and whether they have public liability insurance in place.

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