Who Pays for Builders Risk Insurance and What is it? A Detailed Guide


Explore who pays for builders risk insurance and its role in protecting your construction projects. Learn more in our detailed guide.

Who pays for builders risk insurance (and what is it) is a question that often arises in the midst of construction or renovation planning.  There is no definitive rule as to who should shoulder the cost.  Often, it’s tied to contract details and project specifics.  When it comes to these significant real estate projects, it’s important to have a solid understanding of the interplay with insurance to make sure you have the right protections for the intended parties. So, it’s essential to not only know who pays for builders risk insurance but also how it is structured so that there are no irreversible gaps or gotchas found later.

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What is Builders Risk Insurance?

The term ‘builders risk insurance’ refers to a specialized form of property coverage. It’s essentially designed for structures that are either under construction or undergoing renovation.

This unique policy stays in effect throughout the duration of your project, providing protection against unexpected events during the building process. From minor home remodels to large-scale commercial developments, builders risk insurance plays an integral role in safeguarding investments.

First-Party Coverage

The primary function of builders risk insurance is offering first-party coverage. In simpler terms, it shields you – as a contractor or owner – from financial losses resulting from covered risks while constructing or renovating buildings. The Balance provides more information on this topic that may prove helpful.

If unforeseen damages occur during your project – say due to theft or fire – this policy can help cover those costs and keep a project from financial distress.

A Broad Range Of Projects

No matter what size your construction venture might be, there’s likely a builders risk policy tailored for you. These policies cater not only to small residential projects like single-family homes but also extend to larger ventures like office buildings and beyond.

Bear in mind though; each insurer usually tailors its offerings based on specific factors including scope and scale which means having clarity about what exactly you need upfront will make finding suitable protection much easier down the line.

Durational Aspect Of The Policy

Your Builders Risk policy remains valid until the completion of the ongoing work itself. This implies once completed; regular homeowners’ (for residences) or commercial property (for businesses) insurances take over.

In case delays happen extending completion beyond initial estimates, it may necessitate adjustments within terms set out by the original contract; thus always keep insurers informed regarding progress updates throughout the entire journey. In summary, having a plan in place for builders risk can be advantageous to avoid potential time-consuming and costly difficulties down the line. It would be wise, therefore, to get one before commencing any work whatsoever. In any event, a lender or lienholder may require builders risk insurance to be in place before a construction project commences.

Let’s Recap: 

Builders risk insurance is a critical safety net for construction projects, offering protection against unexpected mishaps to structures, materials and tools onsite. It’s tailored to fit various project sizes and stays in effect until completion. Remember, being diligent and clear about your needs makes finding the right policy easier.

What is covered at or beyond the construction site

A builders risk insurance policy provides extensive coverage for different aspects of a construction project. It’s essential to grasp what this policy includes and, equally significant, what it excludes.

Coverage Within the Construction Site

The main emphasis of builders risk insurance lies in protecting the structure under development. This involves all elements that will become part of the permanent building upon completion. The materials used during construction are also safeguarded by this policy.

In addition to structural components, fixtures like appliances and cabinets installed during progress are included as well. Supplies necessary for building such as adhesives, screws, and nails fall within its scope too.

Machinery crucial for completing projects like bulldozers or cranes are generally protected under builders risk policies provided they’re stationed onsite. Tools owned by subcontractors or contractors may be covered depending on location and specific terms set out in your agreement.

Coverage Beyond Main Physical Structures

Beyond physical buildings and equipment utilized therein, certain temporary structures integral towards completion might also get insured under these policies. These could encompass trailers serving as provisional offices until primary office spaces have been constructed; scaffolding erected around buildings throughout renovation work all potentially falling within purview here.

This type of coverage can extend even further to costly items on site like trees for planting per landscaping plans; storage sheds housing extra supplies; fences built temporarily due to safety reasons and more.

Limits To Coverage

An important point about builders risk insurance rests with understanding limitations: not everything related to building projects gets covered.

A truck transporting HVAC equipment from the warehouse wouldn’t usually be covered since it operates outside the premises most times and would be subject to other separate policies.  Similarly, if faulty design issues aren’t taken care of and an architect makes a mistake leading to damages down the line, then you would look to professional liability coverage. One last example, if any worker gets injured while working on the construction site, workers compensation insurance would step into play rather than builders risk coverage which, again, primarily focuses on structural or material damage at the job location.

Let’s Recap: 

Builders risk insurance provides comprehensive coverage for construction and renovation projects, safeguarding everything from the ongoing structure, building materials to on-site machinery. However, it doesn’t cover everything – vehicles used off-site or issues arising from faulty design need separate policies.

What Type of Losses Does Builders Risk Insurance Cover?

The type and extent of losses covered by a builders risk insurance policy hinge on the specifics. Generally, these policies are either all perils or named perils.

All Perils vs Named Peril Policies

An all-perils policy (or open-perils policy) offers comprehensive coverage for any loss not explicitly excluded in your contract. This makes it a broader safety net compared to its counterpart – the named peril policy.

In contrast, a named peril policy covers only specific events listed within your agreement. If an incident isn’t directly mentioned, no compensation is offered if damage occurs due to this unlisted event.

Occurrence Based vs Claims Made Policies

Beyond choosing between all-risk and named peril coverages, you’ll also need to decide whether you want an occurrence-based or claims-made policy. Most builders’ risk policies fall under occurrence-based, providing coverage for incidents happening during active policy periods irrespective of when claims get filed.

A claims-made plan differs as it only covers those instances where the notice of claims occurs within active policy periods; thus offering more limited protection than their occurrence-based counterparts.

Additional Insureds

The intricate world of construction projects often involves a myriad of parties. While the general contractor or property owner might be the named insured on a builders risk insurance policy, it’s crucial to understand that other key participants in the project are typically included as additional insureds.

Who Are The Additional Insureds?

Typical builders risk insurance policy includes not only the property owner and general contractor but also any subcontractors working on various aspects of the project. This provision allows these individuals or businesses to file claims directly with insurers if they suffer loss or damage within their scope of work.

Including them as additional insureds circumvents potentially contentious negotiations over who bears responsibility for specific losses incurred during construction projects.

The Impact on Subrogation and Claims

Subrogation and claims, which allow an insurer to pursue recovery from third parties responsible for causing loss covered by insurance, can be impacted when multiple entities are listed under one policy.

If both contractors and subcontractors find themselves listed as ‘additional’ rather than primary named-insured, this could limit subrogation actions because essentially they’d be suing themselves.

Towards Better Risk Management: Who Isn’t Typically An Additional Insured?

Certain roles do not usually qualify for status as ‘additional’ due to their nature and extent of involvement in physical activities; architects and engineers fall into the category despite playing pivotal roles shaping through design inputs & technical supervision respectively.

Suppliers too aren’t generally considered eligible since the role primarily delivering materials rather than participating actively onsite where the majority of risks occur.

When Should Builders Risk Insurance Be Purchased?

Builders risk insurance is a crucial safeguard to provide coverage for your construction project, and the timing of its purchase can significantly impact coverage. To ensure you’re adequately protected from day one, it’s best to secure this policy before breaking ground. In certain cases, obtaining coverage may be more difficult to the extent that coverage is not obtained at the outset. Even more, lenders will require coverage to be obtained before the first sign of work starts.

Purchasing Before Project Commencement

To sit among the treetops in terms of protection against property damage at your construction site, builders risk insurance should be active prior to any physical work commencing. This includes initial activities such as excavation or groundbreaking that may seem preliminary but are not without risks.

If an accident happens during these early stages and no builders risk policy is in place yet, out-of-pocket expenses could skyrocket quickly. Thus securing coverage beforehand helps mitigate financial risks associated with potential accidents or damages right from the start.

Coverage Duration: Until Construction Completion

The question of how long builders risk plays into protecting their investment often pops up among individuals undertaking construction projects. Typically, this type of insurance remains valid until all contracted work on-site has been completed successfully.

This means when every task outlined in your contract is done and necessary inspections have been carried out – usually marked by the issuance of a certificate of occupancy by local authorities. At the completion point other types like homeowners or commercial property insurance take over where builders risk policies leave off.

In certain cases, unforeseen circumstances such as inclement weather conditions or material shortages might push back original estimated completion dates leading to the need for longer builders risks periods than initially planned. Most insurers provide options for extending coverage if needed; however, each provider will have unique extension possibilities so make sure you discuss those details upfront (Insurance Journal).

Note though that extensions often come at additional costs and there might be limits on how many times you can extend a single policy term therefore planning accurately regarding timelines while purchasing will save both money and effort later down the line.

Let’s Recap: 

To ensure your construction project is covered from the get-go, get builders risk insurance before breaking ground. It’s typically valid until all contracted work wraps up and other insurance takes over. If delays occur, policy extensions are available but often come with extra costs.

Additional Coverages to Obtain beyond Builders Risk

In the world of construction, risk is a constant companion. While builders risk insurance helps protect your investment in materials and structure during the course of construction, it’s not an all-encompassing safety net. There are other types of coverage that you should consider adding on.

General Liability Insurance: A Must-Have for Contractors

General liability insurance, often referred to as commercial general liability (CGL), is something every contractor needs. This type of policy provides protection against claims resulting from injuries or property damage sustained by third parties.

The Role Workers Compensation Plays in Construction Projects

Apart from CGL, there’s another crucial piece missing here – workers compensation insurance. In many states, carrying this coverage is compulsory when employing others. It safeguards employees who may suffer job-related accidents, offering them wage replacement along with covering their healthcare expenditures.
In essence, having workers comp ensures business continuity without worrying about any unexpected employee injury claims.

Your Umbrella Policy: The Extra Layer Protection You Didn’t Know You Needed

Don’t underestimate the importance of umbrella liability policies. These policies offer an extra layer of protection that goes beyond what standard insurances, like builders risk coverage carried by general contractors provide. If a situation arises where damages exceed the limits of your regular general liability or other underlying policy, an umbrella policy will extend the underlying coverage limit to ensure that you don’t have to self-insure the difference.

While our focus has primarily been on contractors, project owners must also consider securing their own umbrella policy. This ensures that the entire operation is protected against unexpected and significant losses. It is crucial for project owners to obtain a comprehensive insurance package that covers various risks associated with large-scale construction and renovation projects. By doing so, they can navigate any challenges that may arise during the process smoothly. It’s important to remember that every project is unique, so seeking professional advice and customizing insurance requirements accordingly is highly recommended.

Let’s Recap: 

Don’t just bank on builders risk insurance in construction; it’s not a cure-all. Consider adding General Liability Insurance and Workers Compensation to your safety net, too. And don’t overlook Umbrella Policies – they’re the extra shield against unexpected losses that are more significant.

How Much Does Builders Risk Insurance Cost?

The cost of builders risk insurance is influenced by a variety of factors. These include the type and size of your project, its geographical location, and the specific scope involved in construction.

Type and Size of Project

Different types and sizes of projects carry different levels of risk which directly impact how much you’ll be charged for a builders risk insurance policy. For instance, commercial building projects usually come with higher premiums than residential ones due to their complexity.

Larger-scale ventures also involve more materials, equipment as well as a bigger workforce – all these elements increase potential losses during any mishap thus leading towards increased premium costs.


Your project’s locale plays an integral role too when it comes down to determining your coverage expense. Certain areas are prone to natural disasters like hurricanes or earthquakes which pose additional hazards during the construction phase hence insurers might charge higher premiums for such high-risk locations.

Conversely, given a site’s low crime rate and minimal exposure to extreme weather conditions, insurers may offer lower premiums.

Scope Of Work

The tasks being performed over the course of development also affect insurance costs. Projects involving complex operations like structural alterations tend to have greater perils compared to simple cosmetic renovations and therefore may attract greater premium charges accordingly.

Here are a couple of quick cost examples:

  • A small home renovation valued at $50k might result in an annual premium ranging from $500-$1000 based on standard industry rates, i.e., 1-2% of the value of the insured property per year.
  • Larger commercial constructions worth millions of dollars potentially could see annual premiums reaching tens of thousands of dollars, reflecting the increased risk associated with these types of ventures.

Let’s Recap: 

Builders risk insurance costs hinge on your project’s type, size, location, and scope. Larger or complex projects like commercial buildings command higher premiums due to increased risks. Locations prone to natural disasters may also spike up the cost while safer areas might reduce it.

Where to Obtain a Builders Risk Policy

The process of obtaining builders risk insurance may be as simple as adding an endorsement to your existing policy. Often, it is preferable to obtain a distinct builders risk policy instead of simply adding an endorsement to an existing plan.

Addition via Endorsement: A Possible Route?

An insurance endorsement, or rider, allows for modifications in coverage on an existing contract. If your current property insurance provides some form of protection against construction-related risks, it might be feasible and cost-effective to add a builders’ risk endorsement instead.

This could potentially save time by eliminating the need for securing another standalone policy altogether. But remember – endorsements are not universally available across all insurers and even when they are offered, they might fall short in providing comprehensive coverage required for complex or large-scale projects.

A Standalone Builders Risk Insurance Policy

If procuring an endorsement isn’t possible or doesn’t provide adequate protection, then purchasing a standalone builders risk insurance should certainly be considered. These policies have been specifically crafted keeping in mind the risks associated with renovation and construction projects, which makes them aptly suited.

Select Insurers Offering Builders’ Risk Policies

  • Travelers: This insurer stands out due to its broadened water damage coverages, including flood exposures under certain circumstances.
  • The Hartford: Known widely among clients who appreciate their optional green building upgrade coverage, paying additional costs incurred while replacing damaged property using eco-friendly materials.
  • Chubb: Offers worldwide capacity along with dedicated claims handling service specialized at managing large complex losses, making it the preferred choice among many project owners.
  • US Assure: Recognized as one of the active insurance companies providing flexible builders risk insurance policies.

Tapping into Independent Agents For Your Needs

An independent agent can also prove beneficial when looking into obtaining builders risk policies because they aren’t tied down to one single company’s offerings but rather have access to multiple carriers’ products, offering more choices and flexibility.

Let’s Recap: 

Getting builders risk insurance might be as easy as adding an endorsement to your current policy, but a standalone policy is often the better bet. Depending on the type of project, a separate builders risk policy may be the only option to obtain the protection needed. Consult with independent agents for more options and flexibility in choosing the right coverage.

FAQs About Who Pays for Builders Risk Insurance

What is builders risk insurance?

Builders risk insurance is a type of insurance that provides coverage for property owners and contractors during the construction or renovation of a building. It protects against potential damages to the structure, materials, and equipment on the construction site. This policy typically covers risks such as fire, theft, vandalism, and natural disasters. Builders risk insurance is essential for both residential and commercial projects to ensure financial protection in case of unforeseen events or accidents during the construction process.

What is typically covered under a builders risk insurance policy?

A builders risk policy typically covers the structure itself and the materials, fixtures and supplies used in its construction.

What is the difference between builders risk insurance and property insurance?

The main distinction lies in their coverage. Property insurance safeguards established structures, while builders’ risk provides coverage for properties under construction, including building materials and construction equipment on site.

What is the difference between builders risk and general liability?

Both Builders Risk and General Liability insurance policies offer coverage for risks on a construction site. However, Builders Risk primarily focuses on providing protection against physical damages to the project work itself, while General Liability insurance covers claims related to third-party injuries or damages.


While contract details and the nature of your project will likely determine who pays for builders risk insurance, this coverage is nonetheless critical to obtain for many types of construction projects.  Builders risk policies help protect property owners and contractors from potentially major losses as it includes protection for the structure, materials, equipment, and even items like temporary structures. The cost of the policy will vary depending on the type, size, and location of the project. To get this critical coverage in place before it’s considered too late, work with an independent insurance agent to find an appropriate policy from leading insurance providers like US Assure or other preferred carriers who offer policies for builders risk insurance.


DISCLAIMER: The information provided in this blog post is intended for general educational purposes only and should not be relied upon by any individual or party for any specific purpose. Additionally, the information contained herein is not regularly updated. Neither this blog post nor any of its content (express or implied) should be considered as legal, financial, health, or other professional advice. It is essential to consult with your own advisors regarding any matters discussed in this blog post or elsewhere. Notable Risk LLC and its owners, members, managers, directors, officers, partners, consultants and similar entities do not make any representation or warranty regarding the accuracy or completeness of the information presented in this blog post or elsewhere.