Does Tradesman Insurance Cover Me If I Damage Property On-Site

Caeva O'Callaghan | April 5th, 2023

Accidents happen, but will your tradesman insurance cover it?

Yes, under the public liability section. As long as the damage caused is purely accidental – and it should be! – then your public liability insurance will be able to handle the claim. Your tradesman insurance will not ever cover intentional damage done to third party property.

Public liability is the minimum level of insurance you need to trade as a builder in Ireland. If you don’t have it, you risk major expenses and legal headaches down the road.

In this article, we’ll go over the following questions:

Ultimately, if you are at fault, it’s good for business relations to fix what’s gone wrong. If it cannot be sorted there and then, it’s your responsibility to make sure you have the right insurance.

I’m a builder, what insurance do I need?

Contractors, tradesmen and builders all need to have specialist insurance for their business. Having the proper coverage in place allows them to work in and on others’ homes safely, and will cover the costs of repairs if unintentional damage is done. This applies not only to their clients’ property, but anything else that could be damaged which belongs to someone else.

For example, say you’re working on a boundary wall, and part of it falls over onto a neighbour’s garden ornament. Although you weren’t working on that property, having the right insurance in place will cover you for the damage.

Accidents like these are the number one reason builders need insurance. Without it, you may find it difficult to find clients willing to take a risk on an uninsured tradesman. Any builder worth their salt needs to purchase insurance before they take on work, and you probably need three types of liabilities included in your policy at a minimum. These are:

  • Public Liability
  • Products Liability
  • Employers’ Liability

Public liability, as we discussed, covers you for the risk of damage to other people’s property besides your own. Products liability covers your materials if they are faulty or arrive damaged, and the job suffers delays as a result. Finally, employers’ liability covers your employees and others that you hire to help you do the work.

Am I covered for public liability as a builder?

Yes – if you have any standard builders’ insurance, it will cover public liability at a minimum. It’s the most important part of builders’ insurance, as it protects the customers of the tradesmen or any member of the public in the event that a claim should arise and the tradesmen are responsible.

Basically, this is exactly what you’ll need to claim against if you accidentally damage your client’s property while working on the site. Their public liability insurance will cover the cost of the labour and materials involved in repairs.

Accidents happen, even to professionals. That said, it’s entirely your own responsibility to do the work you’re assigned to do safely. Do not attempt a big, messy, serious job such as a house extension if you aren’t competent enough to do so.

If you haven’t got the proper builder’s liability insurance and a neighbouring property suffers damage in the process, there is nowhere for repair money to come from except your own pocket. If you cannot pay, it’s likely a messy legal struggle will ensue and your business will suffer.

What happens if I damage my client’s neighbour’s house?

Your public liability policy will cover you for damage to third party property. But if your client’s neighbour suspects that a crack in their wall is due to your building work, and it’s not immediately obvious that it is, it’s up to them to prove it.

Naturally, with all the noise and commotion next door, they may be more vigilant than usual. This can lead to them spotting faults they may have otherwise gone unnoticed. Mean-spirited neighbours may even try to blame issues arising from their own negligence on innocent parties.

A peaceful resolution is within reach if the neighbour cares enough to hire a building or roof surveyor to come out and inspect the damage. They can claim for the cost of this survey on their home insurance.

If the surveyor’s findings prove that you were indeed negligent and your builders insurance cannot cover it, you have a couple of options. You can either agree to pay for the damage and be done with it, or you can hire your own surveyor for a second opinion.

Confused about where you stand with builders’ and tradesman insurance? Pick up the phone and give us a call – we can help you sort it out.








All Information in this post is accurate as of the date of publishing.