Hello. I am going to be looking for a painter to paint the trim of my
house. What should I look for regarding insurance? My neighbor had someone
fix her roof and he fell off his ladder and broke his arm. The company he
worked for denied his work comp claim stating he is an independent
contractor, so he sued my neighbor for medical and lost time. She went
through hell before he stopped pursuing the claim and I want to be protected
from this. Thanks
State laws may vary, but a business with employees (may vary in number in
some states) must have workman's comp, thus the "independent contractor"
status that some use. Liability insurance should be a must for any
reputable contractor. The sad reality is that any sleazy contractor can
find a way around most anything.
The potential liability (if any) of the homeowner is also what your
homeowner's policy is for. If there's a problem, give it to them and
they'll handle the scumbucket if it's a scam or attempt to extort.
As Edwin says, if dealing w/ a firm, ensure they have all state and/or
local business licenses required and are up to date w/ workmans' comp
payments and require proof of insurance and bond.
If it's an individual DBA somebody, essentially the same thing holds
with some differences which are dependent on local laws. A check w/
local government on what they require is worthwhile and with BBB and/
or similar locally is good doublecheck, too. Won't necessarily hide
the sleazeball who just hasn't been reported if no bad, but a string
of reports is clear indication to stay away.
After that, references, references, references...
What you want is a certificate of insurance SENT DIRECTLY TO YOU
BY THE BROKER OR INSURANCE COMPANY, not the contractor. The
certificate of insurance should name you and list your premises as
an additional insuredlocation of he contractor for the duration of the job.
A copy of a policy, or a receipt that the policy was paid for, are each
useless. Policy could have been cancelled by the contractor and
Anything provided to you by the contractor could be phonied up.
Real contractors have no problem with doing that, and real
brokers or insuance companies have no problem with it either.
If the contractor won't do hat, run like hell.
Depending on what part of the world you are in there is a very good
possibility that you can purchase a temporary or short term rider for your
homeowners policy to actually cover for such things like contractors working
on your home. While I would still recommend an inquiry re: insurance
coverage (both for liability for damage to your property and work comp) and
demand they provide proof of same, as you see you could end up in a battle
between you and their insurance carrier still. Purchasing the rider
automatically puts the battle between the insurance companies.
Homeowners' policies already include liability...it would be most
unusual to have to add a separate rider to cover the homeowners'
ordinary liability for routine and usual types of home maintainance.
Assuming the homeowner has insurance already, the battle is already
between the insurance carriers--all the policy holder has to do is let
them know there's a problem (if and when one arises, even, which is
while not rare, less common than not)...
The problem here isn't the homeowner's problem -- it's the
contractor's and it's the prudent homeowner who ensures any potential
repair/maintenance work is done by licensed, bonded, insured
In an ideal world you would be correct but - many homeowners have been sued,
some successfully, based on a contractor claiming that the homeowner was
negligent in maintain their property or some other such nonsense. In some
case your homeowner's liability may not cover such claims or may not be high
The point is not that some doofus can't/won't sue...anybody can sue
anybody for anything and all the insurance riders in the world can't/
won't prevent them from filing the suit.
The point is that it is the insurance carrier who will be the one
defending the suit/paying any judgement as long as the homeowner
followed the terms of the policy -- which mainly means they didn't do
something _really_ egregious in which case the rider won't help anyway
because it's going to have the same kind of caveats in it as does the
If the homeowner is simply under-insured, that's a different question/
issue. I certainly agree all homeowners ought to be aware of and have
ample coverage for foreseeable events, but that needs to be an "all
the time" thing, not just something special.
The rider would be very unlikely to be anything in addition as far as
coverage than a standard homeowners' policy unless the condition to be
covered is _very_ unique -- and at the moment, for the types of things
under discussion in this thread of ordinary routine maintenance, I
can't come up with a scenario that would seem to warrant an additional
rider other than the coverage limit issue, perhaps.
Again, imo the best insurance against having a problem is to ensure
the contractor is reputable and is bonded, etc. Your insurance is
then the fallback position...
Hire a licensed contractor. Have their insurance company send you a copy of
their certificate. DO NOT accept one from the contractor, as they are easy
to fake. That being said, the insurance will cover the worker. But, they
can still sue your homeowner's policy for damages if they can prove that you
caused an unsafe condition while they were on the project. Bottom line,
they will sue if they smell money. End of story ......... they may not
collect, but it will cost you a lot to defend yourself. Many insurance
companies just settle to take the shortest solution. Good luck.
And people wonder why some prefer to use cheap day laborers for menial work.
That's what I carry insurance for -- and in my selection of carriers,
one of the criteria is that they take the onus of the defense, not
me...what they choose to do as to settlement or fight is their choice
and none of my concern--that, in essence, is why I hired them by
buying the policy. All I have to do is use "reasonable care" to not
create a hazard _of my own making_ and it's their burden of proof.
IMO, $0.02, ymmv, etc., etc., ...
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