By Sara Ametrano and Matt Baynton

 

Picture this: it’s March 6th, 2020. There is a contagious virus wreaking havoc overseas, but in Canada it’s business as usual. We’re going to work, meeting family and friends at restaurants and even travelling. Then, a couple weeks later, we too enter a lockdown, thinking in a few days or weeks, we’ll be back at the office or on the job site – we’re preparing for our return. Well, those days turned into weeks, and those weeks into months. And now, over a year later, we’ve adapted to a new normal of social distancing and remote work for many of us.

As cases have risen and fallen over the past year, construction projects have halted and resumed. These disruptions caused confusion and stress between owners and contractors, both concerned with the delay of work and increasing budgets. Contracts between project owners and contractors often include a notice of delay and a Force Majeure clause, but the verbiage and section inclusions can change from one contract to the next. It comes as no surprise that the many starts and stops and contractual ambiguities have had an impact on a contractor’s operations over the past year.

While the construction industry has faired better than most industries, it hasn’t been without its struggles. It is important for brokers to understand any struggles their clients may be having  so that they may help ensure that their clients are set up for success post-pandemic.

When your contractors are about to begin a new project or resume former operations, it would be a good idea to cover the following topics with them:

  • Have on-site social distancing or supply chain delays lead to increased costs and profit fade?
  • Are construction owners coming to the table with financial relief under their contracts?
  • Are they considering amending new contracts to address potential future lockdowns or delays?
  • Have they communicated their existing circumstances to their bank and is the bank supportive?
  • Have they been able to replenish their backlogs with profitable new contracts?

Brokers will play an important role to help contractors navigate through the balance of the pandemic and should start working with them now to ensure they are prepared to take advantage of any stimulus spending that may be part of the government’s economic recovery plan.

Bonus tip for contractors:

Communicate with advisors, such as construction lawyers. They will be able to provide advice on the best language to use in your notice of delay, as well as give guidance on how to approach a new project when the pandemic dust settles.

What Trisura can do:

As we do with our other products, Trisura can tailor the professional liability coverage to fit each specific class of professional that we insure. Trisura takes a unique approach to all claims and provides expertise and solutions so organizations and individuals can quickly return to their business.

What about federal support?

The Government of Canada recently announced its plan to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. The Government is turning to the Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB) to help reach the goal, requiring support in five main areas: public transit, green infrastructure, trade and transport, broadband and clean power. CIB has already taken steps toward the ambitious goal, announcing a plan to invest $10 billion over the next three years, which will support economic growth and create new jobs in many sectors, including construction.

Looking for more information? Contact your Trisura surety representative today! Contact us.

 

The views expressed in this article are exclusively those of the author;  they do not necessarily reflect the views of Trisura Guarantee Insurance Company, its affiliates or partners.

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