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Investigate That
Contractor before You Hire

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Want to renovate your home? Need some spring repairs after a rough winter? Too many folks hire a contractor for home needs with little pre-checking beyond convenience, price and availability.

Such a decision requires more information than just the name of the guy who stuck a flyer in your door at the right time. Not only must you assess whether the contractor will do the job well and within budget, you must also assess your risk of potential legal liability for bodily injury and property damage caused by someone performing work for you – including injury to the contractor or to his or her employees. For this reason, you should use only a licensed contractor that can show proof of satisfactory insurance – and we are not just talking about a truck with “Insured, Licensed and Bonded” on the side. When discussing insurance, tell the contractor that you require, at a minimum, the following:

Proof of liability insurance. Be sure that if the contractor injures someone or damages property, there’s insurance in place that isn’t your own. Be sure his limits are high ($1 million is the minimum many experts recommend), and be sure the insurance he has will cover the type of work you are having done. Be certain to ask for a certificate of insurance, and then call the agent listed on the certificate to verify that the information is still accurate.

Proof of workers’ compensation insurance. Be sure that if the contractor or one of his employees is injured, there’s insurance in place that isn’t your own. Ask whether the policy does or does not include coverage for the contractor’s own injuries. Again, don’t take the contractor’s word for it; ask for proof in the form of a certificate, and call the agent to verify the information.

Proof of auto insurance. If the contractor drives a vehicle to your property, be sure he has auto liability insurance in case he injures someone or damages property while in his vehicle.

©2013 Selective Ins. Group, Inc. (Branchville, NJ). "Selective" insurers include Selective Ins. Co. of America, Selective Ins. Co. of New England, Selective Ins. Co. of N.Y., Selective Ins. Co. of South Carolina, Selective Ins. Co. of the Southeast, Selective Way Ins. Co., Selective Cas. Ins. Co, Selective Fire and Cas. Ins. Co and Selective Auto Ins. Co. of N.J. Insurers and products available vary by jurisdiction.