5 Effective Must-Knows of Builder’s Risk Insurance for Contractors

Builder's Risk Insurance

5 Effective Must-Knows of Builder’s Risk Insurance for Contractors


In this article, we crack open the ins and outs of Builder’s Risk Insurance, answering the key questions you didn’t even know you had.


Let’s talk about something you might consider “dry” but is as essential as the foundation of the building you’re constructing—Builder’s Risk Insurance. In an industry where construction spending in the United States reached over $1.9 billion in July 2023, estimated at a seasonally adjusted annual rate, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, can you afford to overlook it? Definitely not.

Sure, this shows there is a mountain of opportunity. But in a booming construction industry, it’s imperative to take calculated risks, not gambles. Because despite the opportunities, you’ll find a molehill of potential setbacks if you’re not adequately insured.

So, if you’re spearheading construction or renovation projects, understanding Builder’s Risk Insurance is not a luxury—it’s a necessity.

But What is Builder’s Risk Insurance?

Picture this: you’ve invested countless hours and resources into a construction project, only to have it derailed by an accidental fire. What then? Builder’s Risk Insurance has your back, providing the financial cover to rebuild or repair the damages.

So, what is Builder’s Risk Insurance? Simply put, it’s a specialized form of property insurance designed to cover buildings during construction. Think of it as a safety net that stretches beneath your construction project, ready to catch you if—or let’s be realistic, when—something goes wrong.

Why is this a big deal, you ask? One in five worker deaths in 2021 was in construction. The industry also made up 46.2% of all fatal falls, trips, and slips in the same year. But accidents aren’t just tragic; they’re costly.

The direct costs of these incidents can run into the millions, not to mention the ripple effects like project delays and reputational damage. While Builder’s Risk Insurance can’t prevent accidents, it can significantly mitigate the financial blows.

So, what is Builder’s Risk Insurance? It is what you need to cover the materials, labor, and sometimes even the land value of your project. From theft to natural disasters like fires or storms, builder’s risk insurance ensures you’re not left high and dry if calamity strikes.

With Builder’s Risk Insurance, you’re buying more than a policy—you’re buying peace of mind.

Who Pays for Builder’s Risk Insurance?

Who needs this type of insurance? Better yet, who pays for Builder’s Risk Insurance? Generally, the property owner or the general contractor will pay for Builder’s Risk Insurance.

The costs are often baked into the construction budget, and sometimes, these costs are split between various parties through a contractual agreement. But the answer isn’t one-size-fits-all and can differ depending on several factors, including the type of construction project and the terms of your contract.

Think about it: Various parties might require this insurance, including:

  • Property owners – If you’re the one who stands to lose the most should anything go wrong, you’re likely the one who needs builder’s risk insurance coverage.
  • General contractors – They might have insurance, but construction contracts often require a Builder’s Risk policy covering their interests.
  • Subcontractors – Many policies extend coverage to subcontractors but ensure its specified in the contract.
  • Financial institutions (lenders and investors) – In some cases, the financial institution backing the project might require you to take out Builder’s Risk Insurance to protect their investment.

So, who pays for Builder’s Risk Insurance? The answer is in your contract. Read it carefully and consult your attorney and insurance broker to make an informed decision.

How to Estimate the Cost of Builder’s Risk Insurance

Several factors influence the cost of Builder’s Risk Insurance, including the scope and nature of the project, its location, and the duration. However, the average cost of Builder’s Risk Insurance specifically can range from a few hundred dollars for smaller projects to tens of thousands for larger, more complex projects.

Understanding how to estimate the costs of Builder’s Risk Insurance will give you a leg up in budget planning and negotiations. That means you must learn the several factors that influence the cost of Builder’s Risk Insurance. That is:

  • Project Scope: Larger projects with higher costs are generally more expensive to insure, as the potential losses are more significant.
  • Location: If your construction site is in an area prone to natural disasters like floods or hurricanes, expect higher premiums.
  • Duration: Longer projects often cost more to insure due to the increased timeframe for potential mishaps.
  • Materials: Using high-risk or costly materials can raise the price of your insurance policy.
  • Coverage Extent: The more comprehensive your coverage—like including protection against theft or vandalism—the higher your premiums will likely be.

The good thing about the 21st century is that Builder’s Risk Insurance cost calculators are available online and can give you a rough estimate. However, remember, Builder’s Risk Insurance cost calculators often don’t capture your project’s scope and nuances.

For a more accurate figure, consult insurance professionals who can tailor estimates based on your project details. Don’t shortchange yourself by skimping on coverage; the right insurance policy can make or break your project’s success.

What Does Builder’s Risk Insurance Cover?

So you’re asking, what does Builder’s Risk Insurance cover? It’s a good question. A standard policy often includes protection against theft, vandalism, fire, and natural disasters. Some policies can be expanded to include extra coverages like debris removal and soft costs, which involve legal fees and loan interests.

The bottom line is that knowing what you’re protected against is crucial for peace of mind and preventing nasty surprises.That said, most Builder’s Risk Insurance policies will cover the following:

  • Theft: Unfortunately, construction sites can be a hotbed for theft. Your policy can cover the cost of stolen materials or machinery.
  • Vandalism: Whether graffiti or sabotage, vandalism can delay your project and incur costs.
  • Fire: One of the most devastating risks, a fire can bring your entire project to a halt. Fire coverage is generally standard in these policies.
  • Storms and Natural Disasters: Hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes can lead to severe damage. Many policies cover these calamities, though sometimes at an extra cost.
  • Accidents: This can include a range of unforeseen incidents that can harm the structure under construction.

Don’t forget that one size does not fit all. Therefore, depending on your project’s specifics, you might need additional coverages, or “riders,” for things like:

  • Soft Costs: Additional expenses like legal fees or loan interests can accumulate due to construction delays.
  • Equipment Breakdown: If crucial machinery like cranes or bulldozers break down, this rider can cover the repair or replacement costs.
  • Temporary Structures: Some projects require temporary structures like scaffolding or portable toilets; these can also be covered.

Understanding what Builder’s Risk Insurance covers helps ensure your policy is comprehensive and tailored to your project’s needs. So go ahead, consult your insurer, and ensure you’re covered from every angle. You’ll thank yourself later.

Tips for Choosing the Right Builder’s Risk Insurance Policy

You wouldn’t build a skyscraper on a shaky foundation, would you? So, why compromise on your insurance? This is where the rubber meets the road. When picking the perfect Builder’s Risk Insurance policy, don’t just grab the first one that crosses your inbox.

Scout the Landscape to find Different Builder’s Risk Insurance Providers.

Not all insurance providers are created equal. Each comes with its perks, coverages, and fine print. Do your research. Ask for quotes from multiple insurers, check reviews, and consult industry experts.

Some reputable names in the industry might include giants like Allstate, Liberty Mutual, or specialized construction insurance providers. However, don’t overlook local or niche insurance companies—they may offer personalized service and unique coverages that big players might not.


When choosing the Right Builder’s Risk Insurance Policy, Look for:

  • Comprehensiveness: Ensure the policy covers all risks your project could encounter, from theft to natural disasters.
  • Affordability: While the lowest premium might be tempting, ensure it doesn’t come at the cost of essential coverages.
  • Flexibility: Look for policies that allow you to add or subtract coverages as your project evolves.
  • Customer Service: Responsive customer service can be a lifesaver when you need to file a claim or have questions.
  • Claims Process: Choose a provider with a transparent, quick, and fair claims process.
  • Exclusions: Be wary of what’s not covered and assess if you can live with those exclusions or need to purchase additional riders.

How to Make an Informed Decision

Choosing the right Builder’s Risk Insurance policy can be as critical as any other decision you’ll make during your project. So,

  • Consult a Broker: An experienced insurance broker can help you navigate the complexities and find a builder’s risk insurance policy that fits like a glove.
  • Read Reviews: Customer testimonials can offer real-world insights into the pros and cons of different providers.
  • Compare Quotes: Get multiple quotes and meticulously compare them to ensure you get the best deal.
  • Legal Advice: Consult your attorney to ensure the insurance coverage meets all contractual obligations and legal requirements.
  • Reevaluate: As your project progresses, reevaluate your coverages to ensure they align with any new risks or changes.

Remember, a little due diligence now can save you a mountain of regret later. Take your time, do your homework, and make the choice that sets your project up for success.

Also, read our approved construction liability insurance selection process here.

Common Pitfalls to Avoid When Choosing Builder’s Risk Insurance.

These are the kind of “wish I knew that sooner” lessons that can save you time, money, and sleepless nights.

Common Mistakes When Selecting Builder’s Risk Insurance

  1. Going for the Cheapest Option: Everyone loves a bargain, but insurance is not the place to skimp. A cheap policy might lack crucial coverages that leave you exposed when you least expect it.
  2. Ignoring Exclusions: Many business owners gloss over the exclusions section in the policy document. This can lead to nasty surprises down the line when you discover your policy doesn’t cover certain risks.
  3. Failing to Update the Policy: Construction projects are dynamic, with regular changes. Failing to update your insurance to match the changing scope can be disastrous.
  4. Overlooking Subcontractors: Sometimes, business owners assume that their Builder’s Risk Insurance automatically covers subcontractors. This isn’t always the case; you may need to specify this in your policy.
  5. Not Reading the Fine Print: Terms like ‘deductibles,’ ‘coverage limits,’ and ‘claim procedures’ are often ignored but are crucial to understanding what you’re getting.

How to Avoid Builder’s Risk Insurance Mistakes

  1. Balance Cost and Coverage: Instead of simply going for the cheapest option, look for a policy that offers a good balance of cost and comprehensive coverage.
  2. Know the Exclusions: Read through the exclusions carefully and consider if you need additional riders to fill in the gaps.
  3. Regular Updates: Make it a practice to review and update your policy, especially when there are significant changes to your project.
  4. Include All Parties: Make sure your policy explicitly states who is covered, including subcontractors and other third parties involved in the project.
  5. Read and Consult: Always read the fine print and consult professionals, like lawyers or experienced brokers, to fully grasp the policy’s details.

Remember, ignorance is not bliss when it comes to Builder’s Risk Insurance. And in the complex, stressful construction world, that peace of mind is worth its weight in gold—or at least, the weight of your next construction project.

Conclusion: Why It Matters

The bottom line is clear: If you’re involved in construction or renovations as a business owner, understanding Builder’s Risk Insurance is non-negotiable. This is a safeguard that protects your investment, your future, and your peace of mind.

So, consult insurance professionals for tailored advice that suits your unique needs. They can help you navigate the intricate world of insurance coverages, riders, and premiums, ensuring you’re adequately protected without breaking the bank.