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Builder's risk insurance is a special type of property insurance which indemnifies against damage to buildings while they are under construction. Builder's risk insurance is "coverage that protects a person's or organization's insurable interest in materials, fixtures and/or equipment being used in the construction or renovation of a building or structure should those items sustain physical loss or damage from a covered cause."
Buildings are subject to many different risks while under construction. They may catch fire, be damaged by high winds, or fall victim to other force majeure. A principle of common law is that any new construction or other improvement to land becomes property of the owner of the land - the title holder - once there has been an "improvement" to the owner's site. Builder's risk insurance indemnifies against some of these losses.
Builder's risk covers perils such as fire, wind, theft and vandalism and many more. It typically does not cover perils such as earthquake, flood or wind in beach zones unless the policy has been specifically endorsed to do so. Coverage is typically during construction period only, and is intended to terminate when the work has been completed and the property is ready for use or occupancy. If you are going to properly setup your policy, coverage should be effective prior to when the materials are delivered to the job site. Coverage ends upon the earlier of closing of the sale, occupancy or the policy expiration date. After builder risk coverage expires, due to sale or occupancy, the new owner should take out permanent property insurance on the building such as a home owner's policy or a commercial property policy.
Coverage should be purchased by the custom builder or general contractor and may also be purchased by the property owner. Builder's risk coverage may be necessary to show proof of insurance to comply with local city, county and state building codes and is often required as a condition to many contracts.
If the project involves renovations or additions to an existing building, the owner's existing property insurance may cover the work under construction, obviating the need for builder's risk insurance. (Policies vary.) However, in the case of new buildings under construction on vacant sites, the owner may not have an existing policy that provides coverage.
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