In honor of Halloween, and all things cryptic, dark, and evil, I offer you a frightening tale.  A tale so horrifying and blood curdling, the faint of heart may want to read through the safety of their cuffed hands.  Scarier still, the tale is true…

Lurking in just about every corner of America, and operating in the murky shadows, uninsured contractors await their next victim.  On the surface, they may appear to be reputable, knowledgeable, and even charming.  Their prices, many times, appear to be more attractive than other contractors, but I can promise you, you will not be saving any money.  In fact, you’ll be putting yourself and your financial well-being at risk.

Contractors should carry two types of insurance – liability and worker’s compensation.  Liability protects the homeowner should any damage occur to their home while the contractor is working, and worker’s compensation covers the contractor’s employees in the event an injury incurs on the job.

Many unsuspecting homeowners make the mistake of assuming the potential contractor is both licensed and insured.  After all, could they really be doing business without either?  The answer is, sadly, yes.  There is no true regulating body out there who can stop these companies or ensure they carry the proper insurance.  Eventually, however, the law may catch up with them, but usually only after the damage has been done.  Other homeowners may assume the risk of an uninsured contractor because their prices are just too appealing.  Operating under the belief that if anything does happen, their homeowner’s insurance has them covered.  This is simply not the case.  In many instances, unless you have purchased additional coverage for “in home” employees, homeowner’s insurance cannot and will not help, leaving you with a hefty bill, damaged home, and potential lawsuit.  Additionally, your policy may state that you are required to hire only licensed, insured contractors, so if something were to happen, the insurance company has exempted itself.  In fact, insurance companies have a name for these shady companies – “bootleg” contractors.  Scarier still, if the contractor’s employee was to injure himself on the job, in your home, your homeowner’s policy, most likely, won’t cover the incident, and you’ll be responsible for mounting medical bills, and a potential lawsuit brought on by the injured party.  Scared yet?

In an effort to protect yourself, always vet the company first.  Ask questions, check out their website, obtain a list of referrals, check their status with the Better Business Bureau (BBB).  If necessary, check with your local licensing authority and/or state and obtain a copy of any licenses, if needed.  Ask the contractor for a certificate of insurance (COI) then call the insurance carrier to make sure the policy is current.  A little work up front will help ensure successful completion of the job while leaving your sanity and finances in tact.

Please don’t be their next victim.  Savvy homeowners who do their research and refuse to hire these bogus companies will eventually drive them back into the shadows and eventually out of business, which is good for consumers and reputable contractors.

“Shadows of a thousand years rise again unseen,

Voices whisper in the trees, ‘Tonight is Halloween!'”

-Dexter Kozen

Best wishes,

Kim Sweeney

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