Taking the Risk Out of Building

As the U.S. home market slowly recovers, builders are seeing a boost in construction contracts. New commercial buildings are being built at a rapid pace. With these surges in construction, specialized policies like Builder’s Risk provide important protection against exposures that are unique to the building trade.

The Basics of Builder’s Risk

The Builder’s Risk policy provides protection for homes or commercial buildings under construction, while being remodeled, or undergoing renovation. The policy covers materials like concrete, lumber, and fixtures as well as machinery and equipment used to maintain the building. The policy also covers the cost to remove debris caused by a covered accident, like a fire or lightning strike.

In most cases, a Builder’s Risk policy is required for buildings under construction and purchased when the home or building is at least 30% complete. The limit of insurance is based on the estimated value of the project once its complete. Because the value will increase as glass, framing, and other materials are added, the limit should also be increased. Once the project is done, coverage will end when the building has been taken over by the owner, the work has been complete for 90 days, or the builder has abandoned the project.

Pitfalls and Perils

Accidents happen and by their nature, they’re never anticipated. An accident can stall or completely stop a building project. To avoid the pitfalls of damage, there are three types of perils coverage to choose from: Limited Perils, Specified Perils, or Special Perils.
Each has their own unique advantages but the most inclusive is Special Peril, which covers accidental losses that are not specifically excluded. While this type of coverage is the most attractive, it is also the most expensive. Though the cost may be more than its counterparts, the broad coverage pays for itself in the event of a large loss that might otherwise have been excluded.
Valuing Your Property

It’s a common misconception that all property policies replace damaged items based on their original replacement value. While many companies sell enhanced policies with special endorsements, like Replacement Cost, a great majority of policies come with Actual Cash Value.

In the event of covered damage to your property, claims are paid on an Actual Cash Value basis by default. This means only the depreciated cost to repair or replace will be paid. This can leave the project with a shortfall in funds and possibly halt further construction. To avoid this common mistake, check the policy and endorsements to ensure that Replacement Cost coverage is included.

Policy Limitations

While the coverage provided is vital to most building projects, limitations apply. Builder’s Risk does not cover Earthquake, Flood, Steam Boiler, or intentional acts of damage. Because policies vary by company, coverage for materials in transit, equipment such as scaffolding and trailers, or theft of materials may be limited or excluded. For an additional premium, separate policies or endorsements can be added to ensure coverage is in place where it is needed.

Coy Sunderman is a risk advisor specializing in risk solutions for construction businesses, oil & gas operations, manufacturers and distributors/wholesales. Coy is a Certified Work Comp Advisory and holds his CIC (Certified Insurance Counselor) designation.

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