Are you covered, is your service contractor insured?

Okay all homeowners, here’s a question for you… Are you insured? Of course you are. Before even considering closing on a home, obtaining property insurance is required. What about the home improvement contractor, are they insured?

Sometimes hiring a contractor to do work on your residence is a difficult task. Who do you hire? And how to find a trustworthy company? Word of mouth and referrals seem to be the most common methods for both owners and businesses. The word and recommendation of a person seem to have the greatest value when hiring a service. But you should thoroughly research each company before hiring a contractor to work on their property. Insurance, licenses and professional affiliations are very important things to consider before allowing a contractor to work on her home.

Let’s look at the following example, a tree service company. Tree work is extremely dangerous. If not completed properly or professionally, a branch or piece of wood could fall on a person, house, or structure. Or worse yet, a tree climber could fall out of a tree, be struck by a fallen branch or limb, get cut by a running chainsaw, have a crushed or lacerated finger, or even someone could run through a chipper. Yes, all of these things happen more than you would like to know about in any given year in the tree care industry, even among the best professionals. Most of the time, 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 is properly licensed and fully insured for their trade. You don’t want to be held responsible if a contractor is killed, injured, or causes significant property damage. Every year, there are many lawsuits against homeowners due to workplace accidents by uninsured contractors.

Don’t consider hiring the neighborhood kid to trim your trees. Think about what could happen while doing the job; the child could cut a limb that hits a power line and die. Yes, believe it or not, this is a true story that happened right down the street from where I live, and it happens more than it should.

Instead of hiring cheap labor, get free estimates from some reputable and insured tree care professionals. Workers’ compensation and liability insurance is extremely expensive for tree service companies, or for any high-risk service. But it’s worth it to protect yourself and your home. Before you hire, make sure you can get proof of insurance and license from the business. If the price is much lower than other companies that provided estimates, check with that company to make sure they can prove they have that liability and workers’ compensation insurance. Another important component when hiring a company that performs risky work is its safety culture. The company must have a full-time security professional on staff who holds regular security meetings.

The next time you hire a service professional for a high-risk job, like a tree service company, make sure the company is licensed, fully insured, and reputable. Choosing the right professional has you covered and protects you and your best interests. Today, it is more important than ever to be cautious and selective when hiring.