Protection works are works required to be done to protect a property from damage when works are done on an adjoining property (domestic or commercial).

The owner of the property where the works are to be done is required to take out or arrange insurance with respect to protection works. The insurance, if taken out as it should be, protects the adjoining property owner(s) themselves, as well as the property owner on whose land the work is being done, and the public. It should also give protection for a period of one year after the works have been completed.

The complying insurance has to be in place before the works commence. The tricky issue is that there is no such specific thing as a policy of ‘protection works insurance.’ This is a real surprise to many people when told of this. A ‘standard policy’ of insurance covering public liability and construction is insufficient, which is also somewhat unexpected to many.

Again to the surprise of some, the fact that the policy does not specifically name the adjoining owner or occupier (which is common) does not by itself mean the policy doesn’t comply with the law and provide the necessary cover. Also, the fact that the policy is taken out by the builder rather than the person desiring coverage, the adjoining owner or the developer (which is also common), does not mean coverage is not in place.

Somewhat circularly, to be a valid insurance policy and in compliance with the law, though, it must cover the adjoining owner. If it does not, and damage occurs as a result of the works, the owner must revert back to a remedy at law. They would have to request indemnification or reimbursement from the builder for the cost of the damage which occurs. The owner may need to sue for compensation, which obviously takes time and money.

To sum up, a call to an insurance broker requesting a policy of ‘protection works insurance’ will yield a negative response. As a matter of substance, however, relevant coverage can still be obtained in the circumstances by virtue of a variety of policy wordings provided the policy meets certain criteria.

As always, if you are looking for more information about this complex area, it is strongly advised that you seek professional advice.