There are a lot of landscaping contractors out there. Many of them are fine, upstanding organizations that strive to do the best for their clients. And then there are those who operate at the periphery of legitimate business. They have the look. They know the lingo. They may even have examples of work they’ve done for people that looks pretty good. What they often don’t have however is insurance. And without this vital component of modern business they are basically just a disaster waiting to happen, to you. In this post we’re going to take a no-nonsense look at the potential consequences of hiring a Toronto landscaping contractor who is uninsured.
Why it’s Crucial to Make Sure Your Toronto Landscaping Contractor is Insured
While it may be tempting to contemplate hiring a landscaping contractor who cannot provide proof of insurance (especially if they’re willing to work on the cheap) the cost of doing so could turn out to be far greater than you could imagine. Here are just a few of the things that could go wrong if you sign on with an uninsured contractor.
- Injured workers – Contractors are compelled to carry worker’s compensation insurance in case any of their employees gets hurt on the job. Without it you are likely to be financially responsible for the injured worker. And that can mean paying not just for the injured worker’s medical treatments but also paying substantial punitive damages if the person is permanently disabled.
- Property damage – Say your contractor brings in a backhoe to excavate a portion of the yard. They then accidentally crash the backhoe through your kitchen wall because, it turns out, the operator was unqualified. That’s not the worst of it though. Because your contractor was also uninsured you are now responsible for the cost of repairing your house. Sure, you can try and sue them to recoup your costs but don’t hold your breath on that.
- Unfinished work – Another important type of insurance many responsible Toronto contractors will carry is the completion bond. This covers you in case the contractor suddenly folds up their tent and disappears before the work is completed. There are other types of bonds as well including bid bonds and performance bonds that will ensure that any hanky panky on the part of the contractor does not come back to haunt you the customer personally.
Some folks are under the impression that they can hire an uninsured contractor because any problems will be covered by their homeowner’s insurance policy. The uninsured contractor may even encourage this belief in an effort to skirt their own responsibility. Don’t believe it. Unless you have a specific clause in your homeowner’s policy that covers in-home workers (and virtually no one does) then nothing the contractor does and no one that works for him is covered by your insurance policy.
Telltale Signs of the Uninsured Contractor
There are a few things you can look for that will indicate whether or not your potential contractor is playing it straight with you when it comes to insurance. These include:
- They provide a low ball price – One of the first things that should raise a red flag about whether or not your Toronto landscaping contractor is insured or not is the price they float. As the saying goes: “If it seems too good to be true it probably is”. If the landscaping contractor is offering you a price far below what others have offered there has to be a reason why they’re able to offer such a deal. It’s either because they plan on doing a lousy job or because they don’t have to pay any of those pesky insurance premiums legit companies do.
- They continually delay when you ask for proof of insurance – This is a classic. The uninsured contractor will come up with what may seem like a perfectly plausible excuse for not having proof handy when you first ask for it. After vowing they’ll have it next time you talk they’ll quickly change the subject and hope you forget. The same thing will happen repeatedly until you either drop the subject or drop them.
- Any documentation doesn’t pan out – Some enterprising frauds will provide customers with fake insurance documents gambling that the customer will accept them at face value. Unfortunately some homeowners will do just that and not realize their mistake until it’s too late. By then however they may be staring down the barrel of an enormous lawsuit or have to pay out of pocket for damages the fraudulent contractor caused to their property.
- They don’t have a contractor’s license – It’s always important to work with licensed contractors. If for no other reason than the contractor had to demonstrate knowledge of their trade as well as knowledge of various building codes etc. in order to obtain the license. Most licensed contractors will also carry all the requisite insurance, since they’re responsible types to begin with. If the contractor you’re considering can’t produce a contractor’s license there’s a pretty good chance they’re not insured either.
Hiring an uninsured Toronto landscaping contractor is like driving without insurance. Sure, there’s a chance you may not get in an accident, but if you do you’ll be in for a serious day of reckoning. Same with contractors. There’s a chance your uninsured contractor may get the job done and get out without incident. But if one of their worker’s gets hurt or that backhoe comes crashing through your kitchen wall you’ll be ruing the day you decided to take the chance. Don’t gamble with your family’s financial future. Always insist on seeing proof of insurance before hiring a Toronto landscaping contractor. You’ll be glad you did.
ME Contracting is the Toronto area’s most trusted name in landscaping. We handle every aspect of exterior home improvements from complete landscape designs to hardscape and softscape elements, in ground pools and decks, outdoor kitchens, patios and more. We’re fully licensed and insured so you never have to worry about getting left holding the bag when you enlist us to help with your property enhancements.