grove and dean

Does Public Liability Insurance for Builders Differ from Other Sectors?

Essentially, public liability policies for Builders do not differ unrecognisably from those issued to other professions and sectors.

As with any policy types, the core elements remain quite self explanatory and aptly named. Various provisos can differ quite dramatically sector by sector, but public liability insurance, just as its title stipulates, offers businesses financial cover against claims for damages to property, injuries and illnesses instigated by members of the public or other third parties.

As a professional Builder, you will already be fully aware that the environments you work in can be minefields of accidents waiting to happen. Your due diligence to health and safety regulations might be second to none, but this commendable attribute does not cancel out the fact that your work entails numerous potential dangers.

When working at heights, with heavy equipment, materials and serious power tools, it is difficult to gauge where the most potential risks lie – in the realms of property damage or personal injury. Either way, the very nature of your work dictates that, at some point, an accident might and quite possibly will unpredictably happen.

Carrying out building work can equate to claims being brought against you for damages not only to your customers’ property, but also other local properties or public properties. Similarly with claims for injuries and illnesses, you need to consider how your modus operandi might inadvertently and unintentionally lead to claims by your customers, members of the public, sub-contractors and suppliers. In these respects, liability cover serves identical purposes for Builders as it does for any other profession.

Likewise, your own business is covered by liability insurance in cases of damage, loss or theft to either your own equipment or hired in equipment. It is not all about doom and gloom. Whilst the work you carry out is undeniably high risk, public liability cover was not designed to solely insure you against claims being made against your business.

It also offers you financial protection and coverage against anything happening to your tools of the trade that could financially jeopardise your business. Once again, this applies to both building trade insurance and that available for all other sectors.

Builders public liability can differ and become more bespoke when taking in to consideration the services you offer and if you operate as a contractor or a sub-contractor.

How do services offered effect builders public liability policies?

Builders public liability insurance starts to differ from that of other sectors when the nature and scale or your business come under the radar.

You may offer comprehensive building services that include other related services such as electrics, plastering and plumbing. If so, you are well advised to insure the selection of different risks that are involved with these inter-related trades, each carrying its own sets of specific dangers.

Specific job types, besides skills, can also warrant their own recognition. If you carry out work that requires you and your team to come in to contact with asbestos, heightened health and safety measures naturally need to be adhered to. Accordingly, heightened insurance befitting of the risk levels should be considered.

You will be well aware of the many highly publicised liability claims relating to long term serious illnesses and deaths associated with asbestos. If dealing with asbestos, it is worth your while to be upfront about this when applying for your liability cover.

Demolition work is not automatically included in public liability policies and also requires additional insurance cover due to its very dangerous nature.

Does contracting and sub-contracting make a difference?

In the building trade, the ethos of contracting and sub-contracting is a deeply embedded and long-standing norm. So much so that it has been acknowledged by HMRC and a sector specific Construction Industry Scheme implemented for taxation purposes uniquely for the way that your trade operates.

If you contract work out to self employed individuals or other small firms, these workers and their activities will be covered by your public liability policy. This is provided that they are fully supervised by yourself and use your materials and equipment to fulfil the roles you have temporarily hired them for.

This same does not apply, however, if you sub-contract parts of a job to a specialist person or team who are self supervised and use their own materials and equipment in order to fulfil their parts of the job at hand. In such cases, you will require your sub-contractors to provide their own public liability certification.

If they cause damages or accidents whilst working on your contract, you need to ensure that they are held financially and morally responsible. If you fail to do so, blame and costs will be apportioned to your business rather than theirs.

In reverse, the same is required of you if you are contracted by another Builder or building firm to work either on a supervised or self sufficient basis on their jobs. If you are hired on an official sub-contract basis, efficient Project Managers are loathe to allow you on to their sites is you are unable to provide them with written evidence of your public liability credentials.

They do not want to take the rap for your mishaps, just as you would not for theirs if the tables were turned. You might decide to replicate their good practice when dealing with your own sub-contractors in order to minimise your risks.

With so many potential risks, are there any more?

Your public liability cover is one thing and your Employers liability is another if you directly employ any other staff whatsoever besides yourself. Bear in mind that this also includes back of office staff, besides those working on building sites under your direct supervision.

Standard legally mandatory Employers liability policies generally cover £10million indemnity cover against damages, injuries and illnesses caused to any of your own team members during the course of their work for you.

As a Builder, it is also quite likely that you might also need to factor in Commercial Vehicle insurance if you have vans to transport your equipment, materials and team.