Do I still need site insurance if I’m using a main contractor?
When you’re in the planning stages of a house extension, conversion or self-build, your to-do list from the start is already quite lengthy, with broken down elements from the design, planning, and build stages and costs associated with each aspect. This may include appointing an architect, structural engineer and of course, someone to build it!
So, once you’ve decided on the best team for the project, funds are agreed and you’re ready to go, you should also ensure you have the right insurance in place and that it will last for the duration of the works.
Many of us make the same assumption that if you are using a main contractor then their insurance will be adequate protection throughout the project, however, if you are contracting with one builder to carry out all the works from start to finish, then be sure to check that the contract states they are responsible for insuring the whole project from the moment they start excavation right up to project completion. You can’t guarantee that your builder/main contractor will have insurance — you’d be surprised at just how many builders and tradespeople don’t carry any/or adequate insurance for the work they do, especially if they work ‘cash in hand’.
Your builder isn’t an insurance expert, so although they may say they are ‘fully insured’, it’s possible they only have Public Liability insurance which covers them in the event they cause damage or injury to a third party following a negligent act. What public liability doesn’t cover is issues like storm damage, theft of materials and plant, arson, or foreseen liability – essentially all the things you do need cover!
Ideally, your builder should have a 'Contractors All Risks' insurance policy. Check that it’s in force and if the renewal date falls during the project make sure it’s renewed on time, and you get a copy. It’s important to check the limit on the policy is sufficient to cover the full reinstatement cost of the contract too! If you have any doubts, then organise some site insurance yourself.
“You can’t guarantee that your builder/main contractor will have insurance — you’d be surprised at just how many builders and tradespeople don’t carry any/or adequate insurance for the work they do, especially if they work ‘cash in hand’.”
Those carrying out a project by using a builder with a single contract may feel that, as the builder has their own insurance policy, there is no need to go to the expense of a policy in their own name. They might be right, but they should check the details of the builder’s policy to firstly make sure that it’s current and secondly, that it is sufficient to cover for any eventuality.
Even if the builder’s policy is technically sufficient, the whole business of self-building is to get what you want and to be interested and involved in the process, and the chances are that at some point you will opt to buy your own materials such as kitchen units, sanitaryware or even plumbing equipment.
But if any of those items get stolen or damaged because the builder didn’t buy them and never had title to them, they will not be able to claim for them. So, it really does make sense to have your own self-build insurance policy.
If you are building using subcontractors or direct labour, then technically you are the main contractor and you are deemed to be employing all of the people working on the site. Even if the subcontractors do carry professional insurance, the chances are that if they have an accident, they will see your insurance as the best option for recompense and if you haven’t got it, then you’ll be in trouble.
You can also review some of our specific product pages for in-depth information on the rest of our Self-Build Insurance website.