Construction projects face a wide range of risks – from natural calamities such as bushfires, cyclones, earthquakes, and flooding to man-made hazards like arson, theft, and vandalism – and for this reason, getting the right insurance is crucial for everyone involved, whether they are a tradie, a contractor, or the lead builder.
Having the proper coverage can help safeguard not only the property in development but also the company handling the project. But with all the different building and construction insurance options available, picking the right one can be an overwhelming endeavour.
Coverage comes in many forms, depending on the type of work being carried out, so it is vital for everyone involved to sift through the choices and find the policy that best fits their needs.
How does construction insurance work?
Construction insurance, also known as construction works or contract works insurance, provides protection for all assets during the construction period and covers the business from any liability claims resulting from the building project.
Coverage comes in two main types, according to Arundel-headquartered specialist insurer BuildSafe. These are:
When it comes to annual plans, builders also have two options:
“All construction insurance policies are going to have a defects exclusion,” BuildSafe wrote in a guide on its website. “But it’s understanding what covers are written back in that’s important.”
What does construction insurance cover?
A contract works insurance policy typically provides two types of coverage. These are:
1. Cover for assets and property
Construction insurance protects businesses against accidental damage, theft, or loss of their assets – including building materials, tools, and equipment – left on-site during the building period. It can help cover the cost of replacing these assets, as long as the damage was caused by an insured event.
According to Aon-subsidiary HIA Insurance, contract works insurance also covers expenses incurred to prevent or minimise damage, including transport and storage costs for removing materials from the construction site due to an impending event such as a storm.
“If the storm still causes damage to your project resulting in a claim, not only would contract works insurance cover the cost of repairing or replacing the damage from the storm but you could also be reimbursed for the costs you paid to remove and secure your materials,” the insurer explained.
2. Cover for third-party liability claims
A construction works insurance policy also protects businesses against liability claims resulting from their construction activities.
“A comprehensive construction insurance policy will also extend to cover completed operations liability, which ensures you are protected for any legal liability claims that arise once you have handed over the work,” Moolooba-based brokerage and risk advisory firm Crucial Insurance noted.
The company also advised construction firms to make sure their policies include the following form of legal liability:
Other features that can be added to a standard construction insurance policy, depending on the contractual requirements of a building project include coverage for professional fees, debris removal, defects liability period, owner supplied materials, inland transit, off-site storage, and escalation and variations expenses.
What should Aussie builders consider when taking out construction insurance?
According to East Melbourne-based specialist brokerage Master Builders Insurance Brokers (MBIB), there are several factors that contractors and builders need to assess to ensure that the policies they choose are “right for you and deliver best value for money.”
“There is no such thing as a standard policy, so builders should take particular care when taking out construction works insurance, as there are significant variations in the extent and quality of policies issued by different insurance companies,” the firm advised.
Here are some of the key policy elements that builders must consider when choosing the right plan, according to MBIB:
Read more: Builders' faulty work has massive impact on home building insurance premiums
How much construction insurance do builders need?
When determining how much cover a construction project needs, there are several factors that companies need to consider. These include the total value of the contracts, the number of staff working on the project, and how much assets such as materials, tools and equipment are worth.
Experts advise construction firms to talk to an experienced insurance agent or broker as these professionals can help thoroughly assess the key risks they face and walk them through the different coverage options they have.