Home Makeover Projects: Plan Ahead with the Right Coverage & Contracts


Health concerns. Practice disruptions. Curbside pick-up. A surge in companion-animal adoptions that contributed to year-over-year new client increases for veterinary practices across the country. COVID-19 definitely has affected the professional lives of veterinarians. 

But for many veterinarians (and non-veterinarians too), the increased time at home also led to an increase in home improvement projects. If you’re considering tackling that dream project or finally building that addition, the AVMA Trust has developed this resource to guide you through the process. 

Start by selecting a reliable, professional remodeling contractor. A home improvement contractor with a well-established business can be vetted by reaching out to past customers or through your local Better Business Bureau. If you solicit bids from several home improvement contractors, be sure they are all bidding on the same scope and quality of work. Discuss variations in bids and beware of any bid that is substantially lower than the others.

Renovation Contracts Are Critical

A well-written contract is a critical next step in any home remodeling project. The contract is what holds the job together and ensures that all parties involved agree to the same vision and scope for the project.

Among other things, your contract should include:

     What the contractor will – and will not – do

     A detailed list of project materials

     Approximate start and completion dates

     Financial terms, including total price, payment schedule, and cancellation penalty, if applicable

     A minimum one-year warranty on materials and workmanship

     A binding arbitration clause in the event of a disagreement

The National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) advises that you also take steps to protect yourself in case workers have an accident while in your home. Ask to see a copy of the contractor's certificate of insurance. Most states require a contractor to carry workers’ compensation, property damage, and personal liability insurance. Connect with the AVMA Trust to review the contractor's certificate of insurance to make sure it meets minimum requirements.

If you hire a general contractor, one of their responsibilities should be to ensure that all subcontractors provide a reliable certificate of insurance. Should the construction project extend past the expiration date of the policies, ask for an updated certificate.

Do a Contract Review

As an extra precaution before you sign a contract, ask your insurance broker and an attorney to review it. Most contracts include an insurance provision that outlines your responsibility as well as what is required of your contractor. A legal review will help you avoid any contractual transfer of liability or performance requirements that do not meet your objectives.

You also should discuss with your broker how the changes you are making will affect the insurance coverage of your homeowner’s insurance. Your broker will review the valuation clause on your policy to determine what your property limit needs to be in order to avoid any coverage gaps.

Once work is complete, your broker can review the contents coverage on your home to determine if it needs to be updated. Did your makeover include any custom built-ins or fixtures that should be added to a schedule of valuable articles? Also, is the property limit on your home still accurate, reflecting your home's increased value? If you installed a feature such as a pool, spa, or hot tub, is your liability limit adequate?

If you have questions about your current coverage or are considering changing policies, connect with the AVMA Trust. As a valued AVMA member, we have dedicated resources available to make your decision making easier.

Did you know? As a member benefit, the AVMA Trust offers personal insurance — auto, homeowner’s, and renter’s — to all AVMA members and their employees. Please share this information with your colleagues whether they are AVMA members or not.