With an influx of fly-by-night freelance contractors trying to make a quick buck off the current home renovation boom, it’s important that property owners don’t fall prey to unscrupulous individuals.
A good checklist for choosing a contractor includes getting recommendations from friends and neighbours, researching trade associations, checking their certification and insurance coverage, interviewing multiple candidates, and more.
Not doing your due diligence could lead to a variety of issues and have a negative effect on your insurance, says Christina Martin, Vice President of KRGinsure .
“We can’t stress this enough to home and cottage owners: be diligent when choosing the people to work on your property,” says Christina. “Get multiple quotes, do background checks, get referrals, and make sure they have all the appropriate liability coverage. And don’t fall for cheap sales tricks about things being half-price only for today – that’s definitely a red flag.”
Checking their liability coverage is especially important, because if someone working on a project at your home doesn’t have insurance and an accident occurs, you could be held financially responsible.
A reputable contractor is not only responsible for completing construction or remodelling work in a timely and cost-efficient manner—from explaining processes and predicting schedules to calculating costs – but they will also be responsible for WSIB and liability coverage for themselves and their crew.
Quality, professional contracting companies will have all the insurance, and other essential paperwork and certifications needed, says Christina. They are happy to provide you with the paperwork when you ask for it because they understand it’s a part of doing business.
“If a contractor can’t prove they have insurance, it’s a good idea to steer clear of them,” says Christina. “You are putting yourself at unnecessary risk, and it could be contrary to your home insurance policy. Meaning you may not be covered either.”
Good contractors will also have written health and safety procedures, and clear communications on every aspect of the project, including any subtrades they may be using.
Christina advises that you should always thoroughly read estimates and contracts before signing, and get a professional opinion if you are having trouble understanding the terms.
She also warns that paying in cash can be risky, and recommends only using contractors willing to accept cheques, bank drafts, or credit card payments, because this provides a record for all involved.
“All the professional companies I know are just happy to get paid on time,” she says. “And they like having a hard copy record of payments as well. Cash payments can be trouble because they’re open to disputes on both sides.”
Are you properly covered?
Before starting a renovation, addition, or any other work on your property, it’s a good idea to call the professionals at KRGinsure to determine what level of coverage you have and if more is needed. They will go over your policy and ensure you’re protected against potential issues before they arise.
And once the project is done, you and your broker should have another conversation. “You may need to upgrade your level of coverage to match the new value of your home or cottage,” Christina says. “Never assume everything is automatically covered; it’s good practice to call the professionals and be certain you are protected.”
If you’re a contractor, it’s important to know that not all construction insurance is made the same. The experts at KRGinsure can help you find the right policy for your business.
From ensuring there are no gaps in your coverage, to having the right procedures when working with subcontractors, a quality broker will provide you the right advice when coordinating your policy.
Christina says shopping for construction business insurance isn’t as simple as getting the best price for basic coverage: you need to be aware of all the potential risks and post-accident procedures.
“An expert broker in the construction insurance industry knows that contractors need the right coverage and services that include superior risk control, claims processing and underwriting service,” she says.
A good risk control program will emphasize safety, because worksite accidents are expensive: in claims costs and premium increases, as well as in hidden costs such as a negative market image, not to mention the psychological impact on your team after a serious accident.
“Claims processing is also an important aspect of your insurance,” says Christina. “A good broker is one who is quick, efficient and knowledgeable with handling claims and helping you manage the accident site.”
Underwriting can delay the quoting process when putting together a coverage package. However, brokers who have relationships with carriers and who have underwriters they trust can work to ensure the quickest turnaround time for a quote, says Christina.
KRGinsure goes in depth in both their personal and business insurance to provide customized solutions and comprehensive coverage to their clients. They can help review your policy and make sure all of your needs are properly protected.
TEXT CHRIS OCCHIUZZI | PHOTOS ANDREW FEARMAN