Insured & Licensed Roofing Contractors - Are They Worth It?

Apr 11, 2017

Insured & Licensed Roofing Contractors - Are They Worth It?

If you’re looking for a roofing contractor to put up your new addition responsibly, you might be asking yourself “What’s in it for me?” when it comes to weighing between insured and uninsured, licensed and unlicensed contractors.

Licensed Contractors

Well, for one, it’s illegal in most states to hire an unlicensed contractor. Doing so will get you tried for a violation punishable by law. However, different states have different rules and requirements governing their respective cities, towns or counties. So, if you’re unsure what your local code says about unlicensed roofing contractors, consult with your local licensing board for those details.

At the time that this article was published, the licensing requirements found in all fifty states can be summarized as follows:

  • For twenty-eight of America’s states, homeowners who hire unlicensed contractors can either be fined or sentenced to do jail time.
  • Some states: Idaho, Iowa, New Jersey, and Washington don’t license roofing contractors, they “register” them. While registration is not as stringent as licensing, the rules and regulations governing the contractors is also determined on the state-level. If you live in one of those states, check up on your contractor’s status with your state’s contractor registration board.
  • Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, New Hampshire, Ohio and Wyoming all differ from the states mentioned previously in that their licensing of contractors is administered on the city, town, or county level to some degree – Kansas, Kentucky, and New Hampshire, for example, have exclusive requirements for some of their cities.
  • The states which DON’T require licensing from roofing contractors on the state or city level are Maine, New York, Oklahoma, Texas, and Wisconsin.

Insured Contractors

Any roofing contractor you decide to go with should carry liability insurance. Insurance of this kind doesn’t only protect them, it protects you when damage is done to your home mid-project. If your subcontractor’s workers cause damage to your ceiling when installing your roof, liability insurance will cover your losses so you don’t have to pay a dime over the project itself. What’s more, if your inspector finds that the roofing project won’t require structural changes made to your home, and thus, no building permit, any structural changes made to your home either knowingly or unknowingly by your contractor is also a liability claim and will save you from being tried for violating your local laws concerning structural changes made to your home. In any case, if your contractor does something to your home that wasn’t within your agreement and your homeowner’s insurance doesn’t cover you, their liability policy just might.

To ensure their liability insurance isn’t rigged, ask your contractor to provide you with a copy of their declaration sheet and cross-reference the company details in it with the ones found in your contract. And in this way, you know that they’re not trying to play you. Apart from the liability terms, the declaration sheet should also include the expiration date of its effect. If it’s already expired or will be before the project is done, always make sure that it will be renewed and ask for a copy confirming its renewal.

Finally, the total coverage disclosed in their policy should exceed $2,000,000 to ensure that they’ll have enough to cover your damages if the court decides to prioritize compensation for other homeowners who suffered damages under the same contractor.

Workers’ Compensation Insurance

If an accident happens to one of the workers or individual subcontractor’s team members, they could sue you for everything you’ve got in terms of your personal money or homeowner’s insurance. To confirm your contractor’s workers’ compensation is still viable, ask for their policy and their liability insurance.

It’s important to note that not all roofing contractors are obligated to have workers’ comp. insurance as there are exclusive business owners and businesses too small to receive such coverage. But in any case, always refer your contractor’s details with your state or local insurance agencies just to make sure.

Rundown of Tips

Across the board, always ask your roofing contractor for the following three things before sealing the deal:

  • A copy of their license to practice roofing if your state or local code requires licensing. If it doesn’t, ask for 2 – 3 recommendations from tried and true homeowners who did business with them.
  • A copy of their liability insurance terms.
  • A copy of their workers’ compensation terms.

Don’t bend or break under pressure from shady contractors, do your homework and get your roof set up right. If they’re reluctant to share such information that is well within your rights as a homeowner, then they’re probably a disaster waiting to happen. Don’t take that risk!

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