To aid brokers in guiding their contractor clients through the pandemic, Trisura Guarantee Insurance has issued an advisory with helpful suggestions and reminders.
The advisory, authored by Trisura vice-president of surety and warranty claims Stuart Detsky, was posted on the company’s official blog.
Contractors should contact all of their employees, sub-contractors, and suppliers, the advisory suggests. This will give contractors an opportunity to discuss and determine how each will be modifying their workflow in response to COVID-19. Contractors should be asking sub-contractors questions – such as whether there will be any remote work arrangements, or how essential travel would be for the project – in order to gauge their ability to perform their sub-contracts. Contractors should also ask if suppliers are able to make deliveries as scheduled.
After determining the capabilities of their employees, sub-contractors, and suppliers, contractors should then update their projects’ schedules as needed. These schedules need to be as realistic as possible, Detsky said, and contractors should maintain buffers in case of any unforeseen developments. These revised schedules must be relayed to all relevant parties, including owners and their consultants, to ensure everyone is on the same page.
Trisura added that contractors should review the construction contracts, since they can be inconsistent in terms of how they deal with schedule changes and delays. Most contracts will require contractors to provide timely notice to the owner in the event of delays. Force majeure clauses (provisions in the contract which provide for time extensions due to factors beyond the contractor’s control) can also be inconsistent in wording and applicability. Many contracts do not contain a force majeure clause, and even those that do may not have language that would be triggered by an event such as the COVID-19 outbreak.
Contractors should not be afraid to rely on advisors, Detsky noted. Most construction lawyers have been writing articles, reviewing contracts and preparing action plans for their clients due to COVID-19. Because of these difficult and confusing times, contractors should utilize their lawyers – or retain one if they haven’t already.