So, you’ve decided to go green by buying or renting a BREEAM-certified building for your business. In addition to a reputational boost for taking strides to help the environment, you will likely also be saving on heating and electricity costs. The next step is to look at your insurance policies and make sure your investment is protected as well as that you are covered for the perils associated with green properties and buildings.
Because going green is a still relatively new, your public and products liability policy probably does not specifically address these risks or indicate whether or not they are covered. It is always best to take a close look at your policy to determine if your plans to go green cause any changes. Learn about additional cover options for green buyers or renters here.
Upgrade to Green
Maybe you want to go green but are not ready or able to fully convert yet. One option that is becoming more common is green upgrade property covers. These policy additions would allow you to upgrade to a green-certified level in the event of a physical property loss. Update-to-green cover benefits you because your building has the potential to be even more efficient after a loss as well as it puts you at a lower risk of filing construction defect claims because of the rigorous and careful BREEAM certification process.
Breach of Warranty/Breach of Contract
Most liability policies will cover you for bodily injury, property damage liability and personal injury, breach of warranty and breach of contract are generally excluded. However, when you are a tenant in or an owner of a green-certified building, these are two or the most important kinds of covers to have.
One of the most common claims against property owners or managers is that after construction or years down the road, the green building is not living up to promised standards. The building may not qualify for the BREEAM certification level promised or savings on energy may not be as high as marketing and advertising materials guaranteed. You will need additional cover to protect yourself in this case.
Similarly, problems with tax credits and incentives will require breach of warrantee or breach of contract cover. If a developer or owner tells you, the prospective buyer or tenant, that they will be able to get a certain number of carbon credits and later cannot deliver, you will need proper cover to retain the promised return on investment. The amount of necessary cover will depend on how energy efficient the building is or strives to be.
Cover for Non-Performance Investigations
If a problem ever arises with your green building, you will need to find out who is at fault—the design professional, developer, owner or contractor. Doing so will require extensive testing of the building and its systems to figure out why it is performing under the promised standard.
As liability policies are crafted now, the cost of this investigation may not be covered. In most green building cases, there is no damage to the structure, it just does not perform as efficiently or effectively as the contract specifies. Therefore, you should consider adding extra protection to your policy that would pay for the cost of finding the at-fault party, which can get extremely expensive if it requires looking into design and construction elements.
New Covers Emerging
Green building is still making its way into the insurance world. There are still grey areas, and insurers are debating whether green buildings add extra perils or reduce risks overall. Some insurers are even beginning to offer discounts for those businesses who decide to become more environmentally responsible. When in doubt about what aspects of your green building investment are covered, turn to Sirelark Risk Services at 01603 552633 for guidance.
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The content of this Cover Overview is of general interest and is not intended to apply to specific circumstances. It does not purport to be a comprehensive analysis of all matters relevant to its subject matter. The content should not, therefore, be regarded as constituting legal advice and not be relied upon as such. In relation to any particular problem which they may have, readers are advised to seek specific advice. Further, the law may have changed since first publication and the reader is cautioned accordingly. © 2010, 2012-2013 Zywave, Inc. All rights reserved.