Frequently Asked Questions

Why Choose Builtin?

Our mission is to help Kiwi construction and trade businesses manage their risk. From risk advice to insurance our team of construction-focused experts will deliver the best possible service, quickly and cost effectively.

Your Virtual Risk Adviser

Builtin customers have their own dedicated virtual risk adviser. Their job is to help understand the risks you face and recommend solutions, including both insurance and non-insurance-based risk reduction strategies.

The Strength of The Steadfast Group

Steadfast Group is the largest general insurance broker network in Australasia, with growing operations in Asia and Europe. The network's brokers place over $11bn in premium every year, managing 3.6 million policies on behalf of their clients.

As a Steadfast broker Builtin has access to over 150 insurers around the world and Steadfast's scale means we can negotiate the best possible rates for our clients. Steadfast membership also gives us access to enhanced policy benefits and services, such as escalated support for challenging claims.

A Relationship for the Long Term

As trusted risk advisers our role is to ensure our clients have the best possible cover with the best possible service. That's been the focus of our business for more than 20 years and it's why customers choose us year after year.

Making Your Life Easier

We know you're busy and that insurance is a complex area. So while it may not be top of your list it is ours. That's why we aim to make the process of arranging, amending, renewing and claiming on it as painless as possible. And it means we're always at the end of the phone when you need to get hold of us.

Real Values

Our values are a key part of how we deliver for our customers every day. We Give a S**t, You Can Rely On Us, We Look After Construction, We Go the Extra Mile & We're Real People.

Questions About Liability

These are some of the most common questions we get asked about liability insurance. For details of policy coverage visit the policy pages.

What's the difference between public liability & professional indemnity insurance?

Public liability insurance covers you if you cause accidental physical damage to someone’s property. For example, if a scaffolding pole fell and damaged the neighbour’s house. It also covers the loss of use of undamaged property, where a financial loss to a third party can be established. Liability for personal injury to third parties is also insured in situations where ACC doesn't apply, such as stress.

Professional indemnity covers claims of compensation by a third party due to a mistake in your professional service. For example, if there is an error in the design, engineering specification or site survey that you are alleged to be responsible for. Professional services are typically understood to mean advice for which a fee is charged.

I'm an LBP employed by a company, do I need to get insurance?

As an LBP, unhappy clients can make a complaint to the Building Practitioners Board, which you will have to defend. The cost of defending yourself can be covered by insurance, as can the cost of any fines that are imposed.

Your employer may take out insurance that covers their employees, but if there’s an issue in the future and you’ve moved on or the company had closed up you may not be covered.

Of more concern to most builders & tradies is the risk of civil court claims, where a homeowner takes them to court over an issue that they claim has cost them money. The LBP may be joined to that legal case too.

Professional indemnity insurance covers claims of negligence in the provision of certain professional services, such as design, engineering, surveying and project management. This covers legal defence costs and any compensation/damages awarded. As an employee you are unlikely to be dragged into such a situation.

Holders of an LBP license do face the potential of a complaint to the board, as well as liability for errors in the Records of Work documentation and for negligent supervision of non-LBPs. Many LBPs, particularly those signing off work on behalf of their employer, prefer to have their own policy that they can take with them wherever they go.

Does having an LBP license mean I now have more liability?

Basically no. You still have to comply with Building Act rules and regulations, other legislation and in contract law, as most professionals and business people do. Being licensed doesn’t change your basic obligations to clients for the services you provide.

However, as an LBP you can be brought before the Licensed Building Practitioners Disciplinary Board now and they can impose a range of penalties, including fines of up to $10,000.

The more concerning change is that consumers are becoming more willing to have a go at you if they’re unhappy with some aspect of your service. And you’re easier to track down now that you have to submit a Record of Work for the restricted building work you do.

Builders have also been under-insured compared to other building industry professionals, such as architects, engineers and building inspectors, who all have professional indemnity insurance in case they make a mistake (or are responsible for mistakes made by subbies for example).

By having LBP insurance licenseholders can protect themselves from the financial cost of having to defend a complaint by a disgruntled client. The legal support available can help to minimise the consequences of a negative ruling on your ability to do restricted building work, including having a black mark against your license on the public register.

I'm liable under the Building Act for 10 years, do I need to keep paying for insurance even after I've retired or given up the trade?

You don’t have to continue paying for insurance, choosing to do so is up to you. There are typically two ways that insurance is triggered. One is known as "occurrence" based and the other is "claims made". Whether you need to keep up the cover after you retire or stop trading depends on the type of policy.

Public/general liability policies are occurrence-based. This means the policy that is triggered is the one in place when the actual event occurred. So, if you become aware of a claim a year after the event, the policy in place a year ago (when the damage was done) is the one you would claim on. It's unlikely you'd need to continue to renew an occurrence-based policy years after you've stopped doing any work, since if you're notified of any damage you can go back and claim on the policy that was in place back then. A period of run off is advisable in some situations, for example where the actual damage could be delayed beyond the time you did the work. An example of this is with the delayed damage to wet timber after a water leak due to a faulty shower installation.

Most other liability policies are of a claims-made type. The most relevant is professional indemnity, where an error or omission may not become apparent for many years after the work was done. With this type of policy it must be in place when the claim is made, so it is one that needs to be renewed for as long as there is a possibility of a claim being made against you. However, if you are no longer trading the policy can be switched to "run off cover", whereby the premium reduces over time, since you're only continuing to cover old events and not adding any new liability.

When is a claim triggered?

Liability claims are triggered when a third party, such as your customer, a neighbour or utility provider, has suffered a loss for which they hold you responsible.

There are typically two ways that insurance is triggered. One is known as "occurrence" based and the other is "claims made".

Public/general liability policies are occurrence-based. This means the policy that is triggered is the one in place when the actual event occurred. So, if you become aware of a claim a year after the event, the policy in place a year ago (when the damage was done) is the one you would claim on. Keeping up the cover for a "run-off" period after you've done your last job is advisable in some situations, for example where the actual damage could be delayed beyond the time you did the work. An example of this is with the delayed damage to wet timber after a water leak due to a faulty shower installation.

Most other liability policies are of a type known as claims-made. The most relevant is professional indemnity, where an error or omission may not become apparent for many years after the work was done. With this type of policy it must be in place when the claim is made. This means it needs to be renewed for as long as there is a possibility of a claim being made against you. If you are no longer trading the policy can be switched to "run off cover", whereby the premium reduces over time, since you're only continuing to cover old events and not adding any new liability.

In both cases a third party must have suffered a loss and be holding you liable for that loss. You cannot make a liability claim if the loss suffered is only to yourself. For example, if you're part way through a contract and you cause damage to or make an error with something that is part of the contract, it's your responsibility to fix it. No third party has suffered a loss at that point, so you can't make a liability claim. If it's damage to the works then a claim should be lodged under contract works insurance (faulty workmanship is excluded but resultant damage is still covered).

How does faulty workmanship cover work?

With public/general liability policies one of the triggers for a claim is that there must be physical property damage. If that damage is due to faulty workmanship then polices that include a defective workmanship or "property being worked on" extension can provide cover to remedy that damage. Typically they have a higher excess and lower sublimit than the main policy. It's helpful to consider damage in two different ways. Firstly, there is the damage to the item being worked on, such as the concrete that gets scratched while being polished. This would be covered under the faulty workmanship/product being worked on extension, with the corresponding excess and sublimit. Then there is "resultant damage", which is damage to other property caused by the faulty workmanship. For example, damage to ceilings and walls that result from an incorrectly installed shower waste that leaks. This would be covered by the main policy excess and sublimit. Typically the insurer will apply the higher excess if there is damage to both the actual product being worked on as well as resultant damage to other property. Some insurers claim to cover liability for workmanship that leads to a defective product but where no actual damage to property has occurred.

Questions About Contract Works

These are some of the most common questions we get asked about contract works insurance. For details of policy coverage visit the policy page.

Who should take out contract works insurance?

It depends on the type of work and what it says in your contract. Typically, if it’s a new build and the builder has a full contract, the builder should arrange the policy. It will still cover all the parties to the contract, including the principal and sub-contractors as well.

If the builder is labour-only and the owner is project managing then it should be their job to take it out. Again, the policy will still cover all the parties involved in the work.

If the contract is for work to an existing structure, such as renovations, alterations or extensions, the building owner should ideally take out the cover with their existing insurer. This is because it is preferable to have both the existing structure and the new work insured together, as claims could become complicated if two insurers are involved in a claim that affects both.

Some insurers don’t provide contract works insurance, and in these cases they can request it from us. The house insurer must still be informed that the work is going, as failure to do so could result in a claim for damage to the existing structure being declined.

What's the difference between "contract perils" or "full cover" when insuring the existing structure under the contract works policy?

If an existing structure that is being worked on (eg. a major renovation, reclad or alteration) is uninsured then it can be covered in full by the contract works policy. This means claims for accidental damage due to the construction works are covered, as well as for other perils such as natural disasters, storms and floods.

If the existing structure will continue to be insured during the works for non-construction related perils, for example by earthquake or fire then you can cover it just for construction-related perils. These might include water damage due to inadequate protection while a wall or part of a roof is removed, or fire from grinding, cutting or the use of heat during the construction, or just from damage caused by a worker while they are onsite. This would be necessary where the insurer of the existing structure won't cover construction-related damage.

When do I need to arrange contract works insurance?

Whenever construction work is being done a contract works policy should be put in place. In some cases, both for domestic dwelling and commercial property, the existing insurance may include an allowance for construction work. In the case of residential insurance this allowance might cover small jobs, maintenance and renovations where no structure work is being undertaken and a building consent is not required.

If cover is required it should be in place from the time any work commences on site. Trying to arrange it after work has started can be more costly and difficult. Don't wait until the foundations are laid or the frames stood up.

When does cover finish?

Cover under contract works insurance finishes on the earlier of:

  1. The expiry date on the policy
  2. Practical completion of the work (eg. when a practical completion certificate is issued or when the work is substantially completed apart from minor work and the building is habitable)
  3. When the owners move in, either fully or partially (for example by storing some of their property there)

It's important that you're aware of this because once the contract works cover ends other insurance needs to be in place. Normal house insurance can be tricky to obtain if a CCC hasn't been issued, so there can sometimes be a gap between when the contract works insurance ends (as above) and when house insurance can be arranged. Often, house cover can be sorted out if the property has passed its final inspection. 

Contract works insurance can include an extension, commonly known as Completion Cover, to close this potential gap in cover. The extension maintains cover for a defined period after the end of the construction period, bridging the gap between practical completion and when a CCC has been issued and house insurance can be arranged.

It's important to note that contract works insurance, including the Completion Cover, doesn't insure damage caused by the owners' occupation of the works. So, a flood caused by a blocked sink or a fire from a faulty heater won't be covered.

Do I need to extend the policy if the project is delayed?

Yes. For as long as the works are underway, ie. until practical completion, you should maintain the cover. If you're the builder and the homeowner has arranged the cover, make sure you remind them to extend it.

When can I move in?

Contract works insurance expires once the works are occupied. So, if you want to move in before the project has been completed this may cause problems from an insurance perspective. Without a final inspection or CCC it may be difficult to arrange normal house insurance, but the contract works insurance may not automatically continue once you've moved in.

An extension known as "Partial Occupancy" can be added, which will allow contract works cover to continue even after the owners have moved in. However, it still important to note that occupancy-related risks aren't insured, and nor are their contents, so the owners take that risk on themselves.

Are materials insured if I buy them in advance of starting the job?

The policy starts on the later of the start date on the policy or commencement of work at the site. So, even if your policy shows an earlier start date, if you haven't begun work on site yet there is no cover. If you're planning to buy materials in advance it would pay to contact us so that we can ensure these are properly covered.

Do I need all the allowances?

We sometimes have clients asking to remove the automatic allowances within contract works insurance, since they believe they are not relevant to their job. This is a bad idea! These are the common ones:

Principal Supplied Materials

Some insurers give an automatic allowance if the homeowner supplies materials to the builder to incorporate into the works. For example, they buy the bathroom vanity or tiles themselves, or purchase the whiteware.

Demolition & Removal of Debris

This covers the extra costs if there is a disaster and the works have to be dismantled and carted away and the site cleared before rebuilding can start. If you don’t have this then the insurer won’t pay anything towards these costs. We know from the experience after the Christchurch earthquakes that demolition and removal costs can skyrocket after such an event, so an allowance needs to be made for this.

Professional Fees

This covers the additional costs of professionals such as architects, engineers and surveyors, as well as any consent fees necessary to rectify the loss after an event.

Increased Costs During Construction

This covers costs incurred for variations and fluctuations in the contract price, and/or increases in the costs of labour and materials during the construction period.

Escalation in Cost During Reconstruction

This covers the increases in costs during reconstruction work. It also covers the cost of inflation on any unbuilt part of the works prior to the loss.

To be clear, the last two don’t mean you can claim for increased costs on your project. They just mean that if there is a claim (accidental damage to the works) that there is an allowance for cost increases that may have happened during the build or during the reconstruction.

Plans/Drawings and Site Documents

Covers the cost to replace any loss to these documents.

There are standard amounts for each of these, usually between 5-10% of the contract value. They can be adjusted on request and the amounts need to reflect what your contract requires.

Transit & storage

Covers accidental loss or damage to materials stored at other locations, as well as during their transit around the country.

Completion Cover

Normally contract works insurance ends at the earlier of practical completion or the date on the policy. Completion Cover provides an extended period of cover after practical completion, which helps to cover the potential gap where a domestic house policy may not yet be in place (for example because a CCC hasn’t been issued yet). Completion Cover doesn’t typically apply to spec homes, so you would need to specifically ask for this and have an endorsement added to your policy.

There are plenty of other extensions, both optional and automatic. All are contained within the policy wording and it’s a good idea to understand what they are and ensure you’re meeting the terms of your contract and covering any potential hazards.

Why does it cost more to extend the policy?

The cost of contract works insurance is based on the understanding that the risk increases over time. At the beginning of the project there's not too much risk, since there isn't that much value built up on site yet. As the project advances there is more value on site, so both the risk and the cost of a potential claim increase. When you first arrange the policy this is all accounted for in the premium. However, if you need to extend the cover you're doing so at the end of the project, when there is more value on site and greater risk of a more costly claim, so the cost to insure it is higher.

Questions About Vehicles

These are some of the most common questions we get asked about vehicle insurance. For details of policy coverage visit the policy page.

How do I calculate the market value of my vehicles?

With a market value policy the sum insured for the vehicle may not be the amount that would be paid if the vehicle is stolen or written off. The most you will be paid in the event of a claim depends on the particular insurer's wording. Some will be the market value of the insured vehicle. This could be more or less than the sum insured you have chosen. Others will cover the market value of the insured vehicle or the value stated in the vehicle declaration, whichever is the lesser. This means you'll only get the lower value.

What your policy says could determine whether you get the vehicle's full market value or a lower amount if your chosen sum insured is below market value.

Market value is generally defined as “the reasonable sale price of the same or a comparable vehicle of similar pre-loss age, condition and specification, including the value of any accessories but excluding the value of any sign-writing.”

It is your responsibility to set the sum insured for your policy, based on your vehicle’s actual market value, when you arrange your insurance.

As the value of your vehicle changes over time, it’s important that you update the amount that your vehicle is insured for at renewal and adjust it to match what your vehicle is worth. This will help avoid over or under-stating the value of your vehicle, which could affect the premium you pay or the amount you'd receive in a claim.

Here are some ways you can work out the market value of your vehicles:

• Ask your Registered Motor Vehicle Trader (RMVT) – visit to check the traders in your area
• Visit for a free calculator for light vehicles
• Check out for a good guide to vehicle sales prices
• Contact a professional valuer like Manheim by emailing [email protected] or Turners at

Can you do agreed value for vehicle insurance?
Yes we can. At present, when it comes to insuring commercial vehicles the insurers we deal with require a professional, written valuation of the vehicle before they will offer agreed value cover.
Can anyone drive the vehicle?

Yes. With a commercial vehicle policy anyone can drive the vehicle. Some conditions apply. There are different excesses for drivers under a certain age, without a full license or with less than 2 years on a full license. There are also conditions and exclusions if you knowingly allow people who are disqualified or under the influence of alcohol or drugs to drive.

If a driver is in breach of the policy conditions, for example driving with a suspended license or while under the influence, but you were not aware of this, then the policy will still respond to a claim. In these cases the insurer may seek to recover their claim costs from the driver.

While not required, it's good practice to keep a record of worker's licenses (such as any conditions and when they expire) and ensure their contracts require them to obey traffic rules and notify you if they commit an offence.

Are window glass claims free?

There is no excess for window glass claims, and there is currently no limit on the number of window glass claims you can make. This benefit also extends to other glass in the vehicle, including sunroofs and lights (provided these are fully glass). The exception is vehicles insured by Vero, where a separate extension to the policy must be purchased for the nil excess to apply.

Do I need to tell you as soon as I buy a new vehicle?

It's good practice to arrange insurance before you take ownership of any new asset, including vehicles! However, commercial vehicle policies will automatically cover any new vehicle you buy during the policy period, even if you don't notify us of this at the time. When you do tell us we will simply add the vehicle from the date it was purchased, however long ago that was. The same applies when you sell a vehicle.

My vehicle has modifications and accessories, how do I cover these?

A vehicle that has been modified should be advised to the insurer and can be covered as normal. Accessories are covered for their market value and this value should be included in the vehicle's sum insured. Accessories are considered to be anything that is attached to the vehicle but without which the vehicle would still be able to operate. This includes racking and drawers installed in trade vehicles, load securing or protection equipment. Accessories and spare parts stored away from the vehicle are also insured, with a sublimit, and provided they are stored securely at your own premises or worksite.

Can I get a hire vehicle when mine is off the road for repairs?

If your vehicle is stolen the policy will cover the reasonable cost of hiring another one between the time the vehicle is stolen and when the claim is settled. The first 7 days of hire isn't covered and the amount is capped at $5,000.

For claims where your vehicle is damaged in an accident and you need to hire a vehicle while it's being repaired there's an optional extension called "loss of use" you can add to cover this.  It has to be added per vehicle at the beginning of the policy (not at the time of the claim). You can choose the amount and length of cover you want.

If neither of the above options are available, but you're not at fault for the accident and the other party was insured, you can apply to Right2Drive for a free hire vehicle. They will recover the cost via the other party's insurer. Contact us to check if you're eligible.

Questions About Tools & Equipment

These are some of the most common questions we get asked about tools cover. For details of policy coverage visit the policy page.

Where are my tools insured?
Your tools and other equipment are insured anywhere in New Zealand. This includes on site, in your vehicle, in an employee’s vehicle, in your garage or home, shed, workshop or yard.

If there is no forced entry then theft from vehicles is excluded, unless the vehicle is parked at the worksite. Theft of tools from a vehicle when it is accompanied by forced entry is covered anywhere.

What's the difference between burglary and theft?
When it comes to your insurance policy burglary means that there has been some forced entry (or threat of violence). For example, a lock has been forced or a window smashed. Theft is considered “in the open air”, where there has been no forced entry. For example, your van was unlocked or the tools were sitting out on site. The excess for burglary is typically lower and there are some situations (and some policies) where theft is not covered.
What's required to make a claim?

If your claim is for burglary or theft you'll need to obtain a Police Acknowledgement. The insurer will also need proof of ownership and a quote to replace the stolen items.

If the claim is for a damaged item the insurer will want either a quote from a repairer or a letter from them stating it can't be repaired, and then a quote to replace it.

How do I prove ownership in the event of a claim?

The best proof of ownership are receipts or invoices. If you don't have copies you can request them from wherever you bought them from. If bought online your account may show a purchase history. Other ways to prove ownership are via an asset register (such as from your accounting system or asset management app) that lists the items along with serial numbers and dates of purchase, or photos.

Although not required, feel free to send us copies of proof of ownership and we will keep these on file.

How much should I insure my tools for?

The policy covers tools for their full replacement value, regardless of age. That means you need to insure them for their replacement value, that is the cost of buying a brand new equivalent of whatever was damaged or stolen.

You should also insure the full value of all your tools, even if they are spread out across multiple sites or vehicles. There have been instances where multiple claims have been made but the sum insured has been lower than the cost to replace all the items stolen. Or if there is a catastrophic event like an earthquake or flood that affects multiple locations.