Construction and contract works: a guide to COVID-19 stop work orders
Published 23 April 2020
With the Australian government taking extensive measures to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus, including various stages of lockdown in major cities, construction site managers and contractors should be prepared to respond to mandated stop works orders. Given the ongoing uncertainty, here’s what you need to know in a quick guide to typical contract works insurance protection.
Insurance implications for construction works contracts
It is critical that all parties involved with a construction works contract, such as financiers, head contractors and sub-contractors understand the potential impact a lockdown could have on the project’s contract works insurance cover.
The severity of the impact of a lockdown to contract works insurance policies for construction businesses will depend on whether their policy contains a Cessation of Works clause.
Contract works policies generally contain a Cessation of Works clause which provides protection for a period of time when the works remain insured despite work not being carried out, or in ‘tools down’ scenarios.
There is considerable variation in contract works insurance policies: a number of policies impose a blanket exclusion of insurance cover in the event of a period of stop work such as a lockdown, while others include a Cessation of
Works clause that allows for continued cover for up to 30, 60 or 90 days, or in some cases don’t impose any restriction on the lockdown period.
If you hold a contract works insurance policy for any projects you should examine the terms closely now, before lockdowns are announced or occur in response to a case of infection on a particular site.
What construction works contract holders need to know
Contract work sites are insured by either
a contractor controlled contract works insurance policy (also known as CCIP)
a principal controlled contract works insurance policy (PCIP).
Whether you’re a contractor or a project principal who has contractually agreed to be responsible for the projects’ works insurance, it’s important to determine if any of the policies you hold contain Cessation of Works clauses and what they cover.
In some cases we have seen immediate exclusions to insurance cover once a site is shut down. This withdrawal of cover would have an immediate and significant impact on your site in terms of the risk of physical loss or damage.
Provided your contract works insurance policy contains a Cessation of Works clause that provides for a period of continued cover ‒ and you have taken precautions to reduce the risks involved with a lockdown, as outlined in the table below ‒ you will be able to claim for loss or damage, from weather conditions, for example, during that period.
What precautions should you take to protect the site in the event of a shutdown?
An approach consistent with a normal shutdown (like a holiday period short term break) should include the following:
Other issues to be aware of
In the event of project works recommencing and there is a delay to the date of practical completion, policy holders need to take care that the maximum construction duration period stipulated in the policy wording is not exceeded.
Those with construction projects that may exceed this duration as a result of COVID-19 restrictions should advise their broker so they can work with the insurer to ensure that cover is maintained.
The fine print
The precise wording can vary so it’s advisable to discuss the implications of the Cessation of Works clause in your policy with your insurance broker.
Under some conditions Gallagher contract works insurance Cessation of Work terms of cover may be extended beyond the stated period of 90 days, provided reasonable precautions have been taken during the scheduled shutdown.
We recommend discussing the requirements for ensuring your site remains protected with your insurance broker. We’re here to help.
Gallagher provides insurance, risk management and benefits consulting services for clients in response to both known and unknown risk exposures. When providing analysis and recommendations regarding potential insurance coverage, potential claims and/or operational strategy in response to national emergencies (including health crises), we do so from an insurance and/or risk management perspective, and offer broad information about risk mitigation, loss control strategy and potential claim exposures. We have prepared this commentary and other news alerts for general information purposes only and the material is not intended to be, nor should it be interpreted as, legal or client-specific risk management advice. General insurance descriptions contained herein do not include complete insurance policy definitions, terms and/or conditions, and should not be relied on for coverage interpretation. The information may not include current governmental or insurance developments, is provided without knowledge of the individual recipient’s industry or specific business or coverage circumstances, and in no way reflects or promises to provide insurance coverage outcomes that only insurance carriers’ control.
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