When others do work at your house, should they be insured?

As the summer months come upon us, contracting season goes into full bloom.  New patios and decks or weekly grass cutting bring contractors to your doorstep. They provide estimates, plans, ideas, and more. What about insurance? What is said about that? Is it on your list of things to ask about?

It needs to be.

What’s the risk?

Home Ownership 101. What happens on your property is your responsibility. That’s right…yours and yours alone. Just because someone has fancy graphics on a truck or a business card, does not mean there is an insurance policy to cover them. Without an active policy in place, you are basically standing naked on top of the work they do.

What could really go wrong?

It’s hard to imagine what kind of insurance problem you could get with a new deck, right? Google the phrase “deck collapse statistics” and you’ll see just how frequent and severe they can be. If your contractor is insured, then any injury resulting from poor craftsmanship, would take the responsibility off you. Without coverage, you’d be on the hook for all of it. You could sue the contractor, but the cost to do so would be high and any recuperation of funds can be minimal.

How to really know if the contractor is insured.

Fortunately this is a simple task. Ask the contractor during the bid process, or BEFORE any work begins, to provide you with a certificate of insurance. Have them get one with YOU listed as a certificate holder. Doing so will accomplish two things. 1. You’ll know the policy is active since an expired or cancelled policy will not be able to yield a fresh certificate showing your name. 2. You will see the actual amounts of liability coverage being carried. You can go a step further, which I recommend, and ask to be listed as an Additional Insured. If a job is going to take a while, or is an ongoing service like lawn maintenance, additional insured status is critical. As an additional insured you will be notified in the event of a policy cancellation. It does not give you any authority on the policy, and additional insured is not the same as a named insured. Most insurance carriers will not charge the contractor for either of these. However, some carriers might charge a small fee for having an additional insured added to the policy. Don’t get hung-up on that, it’s merely a cost of doing business.

If the contractor is using sub contractors to assist on the project. You’ll want to ensure that you have certificates for all of them as well.

Remember, it’s your property. It’s your responsibility. If an uninsured sub contractor gets injured while building your deck, guess who writes the check?

For more information, please contact us directly.

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