Preventing Builder’s Risk Claims
Builder’s risk insurance is a property policy purchased by building owners, developers, or general contractors to cover a loss of all or part of a building or building materials during construction. Fire and water are the most common causes of significant losses covered by a builder’s risk policy, and trespassers often are a contributing factor.
Site security is a growing issue in many regions, including Alaska. Advances in technology have led to the development of options beyond the traditional chain link fence and patrolling security guard arrangement. Continuously monitored camera systems installed around the perimeter and interior of a jobsite provide more thorough surveillance than staff on patrol. Many camera systems have the option to allow security ﬁrms to speak directly to the intruder, which often results in them leaving the site immediately. Increasingly, construction companies ﬁnd this more effective than security guards that cannot monitor the entire site continuously.
A key policy for every construction site is a well-run hot work program managed by the general contractor with permits reissued daily. These permits, which include a separate risk assessment for each area, must be issued for activities that produce a ﬂame, spark, or another signiﬁcant heat source. Don’t forget activities that are out of sight, such as torch down rooﬁng, ﬁnishing tasks like handrails, and cutting tasks like metal stud installation.
The risk of ﬁre does not end when the hot work task is complete. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports that ﬁres can start up to four hours following hot work. For this reason, a ﬁre watch should continue after hot work ends for a period of time dependent on the type of task, heat load, and combustibles present.
When laying out a jobsite, think about ﬁre safety as well. Store ﬂammable gasses and liquids away from the building and high trafﬁc areas, in a location protected from vehicle strikes.
Electrical safety is also important for ﬁre prevention. Using appropriate cords for the electrical load, protecting electrical cords and junction boxes from damage, and implementing GFCI breakers all help prevent ﬁres.
There are many potential sources of water on a jobsite; groundwater, rain, hoses, and pipes present risk from all directions. A leaking or burst hose during the night inside a building can cause extensive damage by the time it is found in the morning. Controls can include removing hoses at the end of the day, closing valves, and installing monitored water ﬂow alarms.
Although the perils to a building under construction are many, integrating preventive measures during the planning stages and implementing them in the ﬁeld greatly decreases the likelihood of ﬁling a builder’s risk claim.