One of the most interesting facts about the Irish Construction industry is that there is no legal requirement for a construction company to hold any from of construction insurance! In fact, the only insurance an Irish contractor is legally obliged to have is basic motor insurance on his/her motor vehicles!
Although there is no legal requirement under Irish law for a contractor to hold adequate Construction Insurance it is extremely important that adequate cover is in place.
One of the most important reasons is the high injury & mortality rate on Irish Construction sites. One major positive of the recent construction boom is the fatality per thousand ratio has fallen in recent years although it is still at an unacceptable level.
For example, in 2001 28% of workplace fatalities were Construction related and the Irish Construction industry is consistently second only to the Irish Agriculture& Forestry Industry.
As many primary contractors require their subcontractors to hold Construction Insurance the reality is that although Construction Insurance is not a legal requirement it is usually a prerequisite to obtaining work on the majority of the countries construction sites so the need for construction insurance is a necessity in everything but law!
Although Construction Insurance is quite a complex field the four main areas of cover are as follows:
• Public Liability Insurance
• Employers Liability Insurance
• Contractors All Risks
• Personal Accident
Public Liability Insurance
Public liability insurance [PL] provides cover in the event that the policyholder is sued by a third party who feels that they have suffered injury or loss as a result of the policyholders negligence (lack of care).
Consider the following examples where Public Liability Insurance will provide cover:
• You run a plumbing company. One day you are called to an office to sort out a problem in their kitchen. Accidentally, you burst a pipe, and flood the office. Your client then makes a claim against you for the damage to their carpet and computer systems which have been damaged by the water.
• You are a building contractor. While walking along scaffolding one of your men drops a piece of equipment which falls to the street, injuring a passing pedestrian. The pedestrian makes a claim against your firm.
Obviously these are very simplified examples and we haven’t discussed the complexities of Products Liability/Liability Law/Duty of Care etc however it should provide a basic understanding of Public Liability Insurance.
Employers Liability Insurance
Employers Liability Insurance [EL] provides cover if any of your employees suffer physical injury or death, and it is proven that as an employer you acted negligently and subsequently could have prevented their loss. If they then decide to pursue you for compensation the insurer will pay the cost of the claim.
Consider the following examples where Employers Liability Insurance will provide cover:
• You run a carpentry company. One of your employees loses a finger while using a chop saw and decides to claim against you for his injury
• You are a scaffolding contractor and are erecting scaffolding around an apartment block. While erecting the scaffolding one of your employees falls and suffers severe bodily injury. He decides to claim against your firm.
Please note that Public & Employers Liability is offered ‘hand in hand’, that is when arranging construction insurance you will need to arrange both Public Liability & Employers Liability Insurance together [Also known as Combined Liability Insurance] as Employers Liability Insurance is not available on a ‘Stand Alone’ basis..
Contractors All Risks Insurance
Contractors All Risks insurance (also known as Contract Works insurance) is an insurance policy specially designed for builders and a number of other trades working at a contract site. Contractors All Risks insurance can include cover for contract works, own plant, hired-in plant and employee's tools. The main part of the contractors all risks insurance is the contract works section which provides cover for the property being worked on (e.g. new house, etc.). However, cover for the existing property is excluded (e.g. the existing structure when building an extension) and must continue to be insured under its own insurance cover.
Consider the following examples where Contractors All Risks Insurance will provide cover:
• You are a building contractor and are building a house for resale. So far you have spent €200,000 on materials and labour. The property catches fire and is destroyed before it has been completed. • You are groundwork’s contractor and are presently digging foundations for a new housing development. Naturally you leave your excavator on site until the contract is completed however one night your excavator is stolen.
Personal Accident Insurance
Personal Accident Insurance [Also known as Income Protection Insurance] is highly recommended for a sole traders, business partners and company directors as a combined liability policy does not cover any injury caused to a sole trader/business partner while it is extremely difficult for a company director to sue his/her own company. A policy can be tailored to your exact needs and policies include a tax free monthly benefit, a lump sum [capital benefit] and hospital cash.
Consider the following examples where Personal Accident Insurance will provide cover:
• You’re a self employed carpenter with no employees. You cut your hand and are unable to work for eight months. As you have Personal Accident cover you receive a tax free benefit of €1,500 after one month and continue to receive this amount until you return to work.
• Although Personal Accident/Income Protection insurance is no substitute for full time earnings it will provide you with an income if you are unable to earn and it will reduce your financial worries at a time when your recovery should be your number one priority.
Machinery & Plant Insurance
Machinery & Plant Insurance is normally arranged on a case by case basis and provides Accidental Damage Fire & Theft Cover on Machinery. This policy is normally taken by contractors who wish to cover a specific number of items.
Health & Safety Executive
In Ireland the HSE [Health & Safety Executive] have the ultimate authority over Construction Sites and have the ability to close a site if they feel it is a safety hazard. Their primary initiative is the ‘Safe Pass’ – a one day site safety training programme.
Who needs to do Safe Pass awareness training?
Safe Pass is a one-day safety awareness programme aimed at general construction workers, craft workers and "on site" security personnel in the construction industry. The aims of the programme are to:
• raise the standard of safety awareness in the construction industry
• ensure that site personnel after completing the one day awareness programme can make a positive contribution to the prevention of accidents and ill health while working on the site
• maintain a register of personnel who have received training
• provide participants with a FAS Safe Pass registration card, indicating that the holder has attended a formal course in health and safety awareness
Under the Safety Health and Welfare at Work (Construction) Regulations 2006 Safe Pass / Safety Awareness Programmes applies to -
(a) craft and general construction workers,
(b) persons undertaking on-site security work, and
(c) persons or classes of persons as may be prescribed by the Minister.
For more information on Irish Site Safety please visit the website of the Health & Safety Authority www.hsa.ie while for more information relating to Irish Construction Insurance please visit the website of Keystone Insurance www.keystone.ie, Ireland’s premier supplier of Construction Insurance