Taking a Proactive Approach during COVID-19

Advice from Merchants’ Claims Experts

COVID-19 has upended daily life for nearly the entire globe. To prevent the spread of the pandemic, many businesses have shuttered physical offices in favor of virtual ones. The construction industry, which has been designated as essential in many jurisdictions, is different as a jobsite cannot progress virtually. Boots on the ground are required to push projects forward. As construction progresses in this new environment, contractors and subcontractors need to be prepared to face the realities of COVID-19 and take immediate action.

Plans must be developed and vetted, put into action and continually reassessed as the environment continues to change. Now is the time to be cognizant of the issues at play, proactive in your approach and open to changing that approach when new or better opportunities present themselves. The construction industry, along with the economy in general, will emerge from the pandemic. Actions that you take now will position your company for success as the pandemic ceases.    

What to do immediately – document and isolate “coronavirus” issues. Create a COVID-19 project plan to protect workers and the jobsite, and document everything.  Document delays, changes and all impacts to the project caused by the pandemic. For example, if social distancing on the project forces a slowdown, document it with pictures and a narrative to support your position. You cannot correct (and seek time and money) for issues that you don’t know – or can’t show – exist. Read more.

What to do this week – analyze your contracts. The terms of your contracts and subcontracts should be analyzed to understand your rights and obligations in light of the pandemic. Think about creating key clause summaries for each of your agreements to share with leadership for each project. Use this to create a system to ensure that you are putting your documentation to good use by adhering to contractual requirements for notice and taking all required steps to preserve your rights to claims for delays and other impacts. Read more.

What to do in the near term – create your plan, implement and revise it as necessary. Financial strength is key. Understanding where you’re at on each job and how each job will be affected by COVID-19 is crucial for planning cash flow and maintaining liquidity. Proper planning will also allow you to be prepared for future opportunities. Maintain an open dialogue with your surety so that you’re prepared to take advantage of those opportunities as they arise. Read more.