Hiring People to Work on or at Your Home

Person using dewalt cordless impact driver on brown board

So you need someone to repair a faucet, do interior remodeling, paint, take out, or trim a tree.  I bet you did not think in a million years your choice of provider could affect your pocketbook beyond the cost of the service provided.  It could.  

Here’s why: anytime someone steps foot on your property, you have some liability for them, their safety, and of course your property itself.  For a minute think about a scenario where the plumber comes in and while making the repairs, severs a finger with a power tool.  Who pays for his medical bills, time off work, pain & suffering?  Think about the tree guy.  He attempts to take out that tree and it falls on your house or car or both!  Now what, who pays for this?  

In a perfect world the plumber, tree guy, or whoever was hired to perform the job does, or the company they work for.  Unfortunately, this is not always how it works out.  It’s important to know how to protect yourself and take the necessary reasonable steps.

Your homeowner’s insurance can provide some “last line of defense” in situations like these, but honestly, it is just that “last line” and it’s only a possible one, not definite because every home and property insurance policy is different and every situation is too.  Even if the property insurance company were to step in on your behalf to absorb the financial impact up to a lawsuit, it would put a negative mark on you and drive your insurance premiums up or even worse make you uninsurable.  There is a better, more simple way.

When you need work done on your home always look for reputable providers that have “commercial general liability insurance,” “worker’s compensation insurance,” and “commercial automobile insurance.”  Yes, even the vehicle they drive can turn out to be your liability responsibility while they are in the course of work on your property.  As you look for providers, look for ones that clearly state in their advertisement that they are “insured.”  Of course, if they are in a trade that requires a license, you want to know that too.  Beware of the ones that advertise “licensed & insured” when they are not even required to have a “license.”  

For example, tree services in Arkansas are not required to have a license, but I’ve seen many that advertise they do. Ask them to clarify the type of license they carry, if they say “tree”, turn and walk away.  It may be that they have an Arkansas Contractor’s License, which I ran into recently when looking for someone to cut down a tree on our property.  I did a quick search of the AR contractor’s license board site and he was listed as active, which in my opinion makes him a more reputable provider.  If you are hiring a contractor for work on your home, definitely check that site to verify their license is active, you can search by name and they have some great tips for consumers too.  

As you interview prospective providers, ask them if they get the job, can they provide a “certificate” of their business insurance.  If they say anything but “YES” and say it enthusiastically, look elsewhere.  My experience has taught me that if they are unwilling to agree to provide proof of having insurance to earn the job something is not right and to move on.  There are plenty of providers and you will find one that has insurance and is more than happy to prove it because they know it provides peace of mind for you plus they probably paid a lot of money for the insurance and is happy to get a return on their investment!  Be patient and keep looking.

If you think of something I did not cover, please, shoot me an email with your question, I am very happy to respond if I have an answer and direct you to someone else when I don’t.  

If you need a recommendation of a provider, we know some of the various work.  Call or email what type of work you are needing and if we know someone to direct you to, we’ll be happy to pass on their contact information.

Please, remember at the end of the day, diligence & education is the key to protecting yourself, all you’ve worked hard for and everything you will work hard for in the future.


Darin Hoover