Why self-employed builders need tradesman insurance protection
The key reason for self-employed builders to obtain comprehensive cover is due to the financial implications should something go wrong with their work.
If you’re a self-employed builder and you’re accused of causing damage or injury to a member of the public, they could make a claim against your business for damages. Without the correct level of cover in place, this could cause your business significant financial distress.
Meeting the requirements of the project and the main contractor
Many self-employed tradespeople work on-site for general contractors, as well as undertaking their own projects. As a self-employed builder this might be a rarity, but there may be instances where you are drafted-in for bricklaying or remedial work for a small contractor.
The contractor will typically have a list of required insurance policies that you must carry before you can start work on-site. Some contractors may also require you to be accredited with the regulatory body for your profession.
Meeting lawful requirements
There are few insurance policies that you are required to carry by law. If you employ staff, then you are legally bound to hold employers’ liability insurance to protect your employees. However, there may be legal requirements attached to the particular project you are working on. This will be especially true if you are being drafted-in to work for a main contractor.
Mitigating on-site risks with builders liability insurance
Building sites can be hazardous places and accidents happen no matter how careful, tidy and organised you are. From open trenches dug for foundations, to materials spread out on the ground, to sharp objects such as broken bricks and nails. There are multiple accident risks that can cause injury to your client, members of the public, and of course yourself and your employees.
These risks are why public liability insurance is such an important form of cover for builders, in the event of a claim. For example, a member of the public or a client may make a claim against you for a variety of reasons, such as tripping over trades materials that you’ve left on the floor and injuring themselves.
Many self-employed builders employ a small team of staff due to the nature of the work being too much for one person to handle on their own. As an employer you are legally required to carry Employers’ Liability insurance, with a minimum of £5 million of cover. Caunce O’Hara’s employers’ liability insurance provides £10 million of cover as standard.
Builders insurance can cover allegations of negligent work and mistakes
Mistakes occur, that’s the nature of human beings, we make mistakes and hopefully learn from them so we don’t make them again. As a trades professional you cannot afford to make mistakes, because mistakes cost money.
If you make a mistake in a client’s building project and you’re not holding adequate insurance cover, you could find yourself having to pay out a lot of money from your own pocket.
An example could be if a builder is contracted to build an extension and misreads the plans and builds the extension too large. Conversely, he could build it too small which would arguably have been worse. A mistake such as this could cause planning permission issues and even a rebuild at significant extra cost.
Other mistakes reported online include builders knocking down the wrong wall and having to rebuild it before knocking down the correct wall. A mistake such as this can be relatively minor if the wall is outside, but if it was inside and potentially a retaining wall the consequences could be a lot worse.
Trades professional indemnity insurance provides cover for your business to cover the costs of defending a negligence claim, and compensation awards, and could potential save you a lot of money and stress.
Product failure or failed installation of product/s
Product failure isn’t always due to the product itself being faulty, it can be due to the product being installed incorrectly.
As a self-employed builder it’s likely that you need to be adept at multiple tasks, from bricklaying and plastering, to kitchen and bathroom installation. You will encounter many different issues, such as getting all of your clients’ integrated appliances to fit in the available space, then ensuring they all work, ensuring the integrated washer drains properly, and fitting the worktops correctly with a faultless finish and no visible surface joins.
Product failure or incorrect product installation can potentially lead to claims for product liability if the product fault causes damage, or could lead to a professional indemnity claim if it is alleged that you were negligent in how you installed the product, or if how the product has been installed has created a hazard which then causes an accident to your client.
Personal injury or illness sustained while on-site
Working in a manual profession poses a risk of personal injury, some of which could be more serious than others. Lifting heavy materials, operating plant machinery, working with bladed equipment such as cement mixers, to name but a few instances which can result in a strain injury, cuts and bruises, or more serious injuries which can be painful and cause you to be unable to work.
Occupational personal accident insurance offers cover for work-related injuries and illnesses sustained during the course of your job which have an impact on your ability to work.
Cover for your tools, trade materials
Van and tools theft is big business, and what’s worse is that it isn’t difficult to get away with either!
After a long workday, you park your work van on your driveway and you head inside your home. Due to tiredness you don’t move your tools into the garage for safe keeping overnight thinking, “they’ll be safe out there, it’s only one night!”
The next morning, you discover your rear van door has been prized open and your work tools are gone, which means you have to cancel your work for the day and replace your stolen tools at a significant unexpected cost. Tools insurance can help to soften the blow and get you back to work with a minimum of downtime.
Cover for plant machinery
If you’re building extensions, laying drainage pipes, landscaping gardens, you’ll likely operate plant machinery. Whether you own your own plant or hire-in plant equipment, it’s vital to ensure it is covered from theft, so if you do experience plant theft you’re not out of action for too long and you don’t delay building projects and your business operations experience only minimal disruption.
Plant insurance is designed to pay the costs of any continuing hiring charges you incur while the plant is being replaced or repaired.
Cover for contract works you’ve already completed
How would you cope if you were nearing the end of an extension build for a customer, but one night it was accidentally destroyed by a fire or a flood? Do you know who would be liable for the costs for the work to be redone?
Contract works insurance will cover eventualities such as this and the cost of having to re-do work that is part of a contract, including the cost of the tools, materials and the labour required for the work, should the existing work be destroyed by fire, flood, or theft.
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