Insurance advice for tradesmen and construction contractors during the COVID 19 pandemic

65% of UK construction market value is shut down.

Recent reports suggest that construction projects across the country with a combined value of £104b are being affected by coronavirus related delays. But what does this mean for the thousands and thousands of tradesmen up and down the country working as contractors? No matter whether half way through a domestic renovation project, or working as a sub-contractor on a major site, we’ve had lots of questions from our tradesman customers.

As a specialist construction insurance broker, we would always urge our clients to speak with our broking team about their specific circumstances. But there are some common queries which are understandably coming up many times a day.

Ongoing sites

Half completed works can be left with the homeowner or customer. But a contractor may still be responsible for loss, damage and certain injury arising from their works. This type of exposure would typically be covered by a Tradesman’s Public Liability insurance policy. It’s worth thinking about that value or saving made potentially suspending this type of cover vs the value of protection it could bring should a member of the public make a claim.

Tradesman tool and plant insurance covers

We recognise and accept that many clients see little value in tools insurance while not working. Tools that are in safe storage at home or in a garage are clearly less likely to be stolen or damaged than usual. That said, claims for loss or damage at home can and still do occur and you may therefore wish to consider keeping insurance in place to cover this.

It’s worth considering whether you need to maintain insurance for any long term hired in plant or machinery that you may still have in your possession – or where it has been left on site and you still hold a liability.

PL/Products (or Contract Works Defects Liability)

A defects liability cover such as this is designed to offer protection to the tradesman and / or contractor for a specified period of time after they have completed their work and left the site. An escape of water, structural defect or collapse, or an electrical fire may occur months after work has been completed but a policy needs to be in force at the time of the loss, not at the point when the work was carried out. For this reason, in most situations, it would seem important to maintain the cover in place.

Other considerations for tradesmen looking to safe money on insurance while off site

Outside of suffering a claim that you’re potentially not covered for, its worth bearing in mind other contractual requirements. As a responsible tradesman, you may well be a member of a trade body or a scheme – for example Trusted Trader or Constructionline. But in many cases, a condition of membership is that you have a current Public Liability insurance policy in place. Some such bodies guarantee their members work, so that should the worse happen and the member is uninsured, the customer may revert to the organisation for compensation.  Its worth considering, however, how that may impact on your future membership of the body may be affected when it comes to membership renewal.

If you are at all unsure about what covers you should keep in force, and what you may well be able to dispense with during the lockdown period – and beyond – speak with our broking team who will be happy to discuss your options.