If you assume that hiring someone to paint your house is a low-risk venture, remember Murphy’s Law of Home Projects:whatever can go wrong will go wrong. Think accidental paint spills or worse, painters taking accidental spills off ladders.
Insurance coverage may be low on your list of priorities when hiring a painting contractor, but it’s just as important as getting a fair cost estimate.
Reputable painting contractors should have both general liability insurance and Workers Compensation insurance through the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) – not only to protect their employees but to safeguard their customers. That’s because if a worker is injured on your property and the contractor is not covered by the WSIB, the cost could come out of the homeowners’ pocket.
If a contractor just shrugs when you bring up the question of insurance, don’t look the other way. They’re being reckless and putting you at serious risk.
Consider this: if a residential contractor does not have proper coverage, your homeowner’s policy becomes the default insurance to cover expenses – medical costs included. On top of this, an insurance company may be within their rights to refuse a claim if they find out you knowingly hired an unlicensed contractor. That puts the burden of paying for all medical and injury bills squarely on you.
If the homeowner is uninsured? Yikes. They could become personally responsible for damages that occur on their property or on their neighbour’s property, not to mention liable for any injuries sustained by workers (multiply that by physical therapy, lost wages, pain and suffering). Forget the paint job – one freak accident will send an uninsured homeowner to the poor house anyway.
Uninsured painting contractors is a major issue. The WSIB reports that in Ontario alone, 2 out of 3 painting contractors are not covered by Workers Compensation. The smaller the painting contractor, the more likely they are to make a claim.
When hiring a contractor, it’s wise to hope for the best but prepare for the worst – and that means insisting on proof of insurance. General liability insurance will cover any damage that occurs in your home and Worker’s Compensation insurance ensures that employees are financially protected in the unlikely event of an accident, plus you’re protected from the risk of legal action.
In addition to working only with qualified, licensed and insured professionals, talk to an insurance broker before beginning any home renovation project. They might suggest taking additional coverage when you have contractors working in and around your home. What would it hurt? After all, a little extra insurance can go a long way to taking the “pain” out of painting.