Are You Covered, Is Your Service Contractor Insured?
OK all you home owners out there, here is a question for you… are you Insured? Of course you are. Before even considering closing on a house it is required to obtain homeowners insurance. What about the home improvement contractor, are they insured?
Hiring a contractor to perform work at your residence is a difficult task sometimes. Who do you hire? And how do you find a reputable company? Word of mouth and referrals seem to be the most common methods for both homeowner and a company. A person’s word and recommendation seems to hold the most value when contracting for service. But you should research each company thoroughly before hiring a contractor to work on your property. Insurance, licensing and professional affiliations are very important things to consider before allowing a contractor to work at your home.
Let us look at the following example, a tree service company. Tree work is extremely dangerous. If not properly or professionally completed, a limb or piece of wood could fall onto a person, house, or structure. Or even worse, a tree climber could fall out of a tree, get hit by a fallen limb or branch, get cut by a running chainsaw, a finger smashed or lacerated, or someone could even go through a chipper. Yes, all of these things happen more than you would like to know in a given year in the tree care industry, even among the best professionals. More commonly than not, these accidents can lead to lawsuits if the contractor is not properly insured.
To protect yourself and your residence as a homeowner, it is absolutely critical to ensure that a hired service professional has the proper license, and is fully insured for their trade. You do not want to be responsible for a contractor dying, getting injured, or causing major damage to your property. Each year, there are many lawsuits against homeowners due to on the job accidents by uninsured contractors.
Don’t consider hiring the neighborhood kid to prune your trees. Think about what could happen while doing the work; the kid could cut a limb that hits a high tension line and get himself killed. Yes, believe it or not, this is a true story that happened right down the street from where I live, and happens more than it should.
Instead of hiring the cheap labor, get free estimates from a few reputable and insured tree care professionals. Workmen’s compensation and liability insurance are extremely expensive for tree service companies, or any high risk service for that matter. But it is worth it to protect yourself and your home. Before you hire, make sure you can obtain proof of insurance and license from the company. If the price is much lower than other companies that provided estimates, check that company out to make sure they can prove they have that liability and worker’s compensation insurance. Another important component when hiring a company that performs risky work is their safety culture. The company should have a full time safety professional on staff that holds regular safety meetings.
Next time you hire a service professional for work that is high risk such as a tree service company, make sure the company is licensed, fully insured, and is reputable. Choosing the right professional covers and protects you and your best interests. Today, it is more important than ever to be cautious and selective of whom you hire.