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Insurance desperation


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By Elizabeth in Salisbury, MA on 2/8/2005


Hi All,

My husband and I are (finally) about ready to close on our construction loan for the log home we will not only be contracting ourselves -- but actually building ourselves -- in Salisbury, MA, and I have found myself faced with a major problem -- insurance. So far I have been honest with the insurance agencies and explained to them that we will be doing the actual work ourselves, under the supervision of a licensed, experienced site supervisor (as required by our lender) -- at which point, they perform the email equivalent of hanging up on me.

I am completely terrified that, after all the many many hurdles we have crossed, this is going to derail our project. So my questions are this:

1) does anyone know of a company that is willing to provide builder's risk and liability insurance to people who are doing their own construction work (and who don't have 2 years of verifiable experience, etc.)

2) is it worth the risk of just putting down our supervisor's name and info. as the builder/contractor, and not mentioning to the ins. company that we are doing the work ourselves? I know that's awful, and is really not the way I want to go, but I'm getting desperate here, as we want to close within the next couple of weeks.

Any thoughts or advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,

Liz


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By Dennis in AK on 2/8/2005


I used State Farm insurance here in Alaska. I didn't have any problems with them. I did the foundation, electrical, heating, and finish work. I did hire a framer. Keep calling around, try the internet.  I had to get home owners insurance online when a big name good hands company dropped me for making a claim. Good luck, Dennis.
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By Elizabeth in Salisbury, MA on 2/8/2005


Thanks, Dennis. When you applied for the builder's risk policy, did you put a contractor's (or your framer's) name on the policy? Did you tell State Farm you were doing some of your own work?

This is so frustrating to me. I can't imagine why the insurance company cares about who builds it, when all the risk policy protects against is thefts, loss, etc. -- not against shoddy construction. (At least, that's how I understand it.) I don't see how I can have a mortgage co. that is OK with this, but the ins. co. isn't. Arrgh. I am seriously stressed about this.


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By Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO on 2/9/2005


I have Farmer's Insurance for my current homeowners policy.  They didn't blink an eye when I asked for Builder's Risk.  I don't recall if I told them I was a contractor or not (I have GC license - definitely a positive on many factors), but it was very clear that I am doing much of the work myself.  Builder's Risk has no application to whoever is doing the work, because if you are working on the structure it offers you no protection anyway.

However, are you talking Builder's Risk or some sort of Workers' Compensation?  Before I can have any employees, I have to have a workers' compensation policy on me - and Workers' Comp is very expensive for a GC with no previous construction experience.  I don't have employees anyway, just perhaps the way you are presenting the information to insurance companies maybe they think this is what you are asking for?


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By Elizabeth in Salisbury, MA on 2/9/2005


Kenneth, Thanks for the info. Did Farmer's want info. on you/your contractor before they would issue the policy? Every application I see wants the name of the contractor, how much experience he has, how many houses he has built, etc... I am definitely asking for Builder's Risk, and not Worker's Comp (which our mortgage co. allows us to waive as O-Bs) -- which is precisely why this is so puzzling! As you said, it really shouldn't matter to the insurance co. who is building the house.

I spoke to one insurance co. this morning who said that a few years ago, plenty of companies would insure O-Bs -- but now, with everyone being so lawsuit happy, very few will. Again, this doesn't make much sense to me -- but then, the workings of insurance never really have!


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By Dennis in AK on 2/9/2005


The only name I had on the policy was mine and the bank doing the financing, Indymac.  Was pretty straight forward. I think it cost about $1400 for a years worth. Dennis.
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By Kenneth in Lees Summit, MO on 2/9/2005


Basically I called my agent (John) and told him I needed a Builder's Risk Policy for a new house I was constructing.  I provided a set of blueprints, but this was more of a formality as I think John was simply interested in what I was doing (note here that John comes over to my house and drinks beer on occassion, sometimes with his spouse and family, there is more than just a business relationship).

John provided a price and faxed the information to the bank.  I write a check and give it to John.  John filled out all of the paperwork, I signed it.  I am happy, bank is happy, John is happy, we have insurance.  That is the process I followed, and I didn't leave any details out.  This is probably not much help, but this is also why I went through my existing insurance agent (although I also shopped around to make sure he was giving me a fair price).


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By Peter in Gilford, NH on 2/15/2005


Elizabeth,

First, I'm in Bedford, MA, not far from you.  I'm building a vacation house in New Hampshire.

It took my insurance agent (In Lexington) a while to get the insurance co. to write the policy.  It cost me under $400 bucks for $150K worth of coverage. 

Peter


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