Important! Protect yourself & your property...

Homeowner Liability and Personal Injury of a Contracted Worker

Homeowner liability insurance protects homeowners in the event that someone accidentally damages your home or injures themselves or someone else while they are on your property. When you hire someone to work on or around your home, it is fairly common for contractors to carry their own liability insurance, usually in the amount of $1 million or more.  Make sure your contractor has sufficient insurance coverage.

Who Is Liable for Injuries?

When a homeowner purchases liability insurance, part of the insurance company’s obligation is to provide a defense in the event of a lawsuit.  Independent contractors must have their own workers’ compensation insurance. The only way to determine if the contractor you are planning to hire has insurance is to request that the contractor’s insurance company send you a copy of their insurance certificate. If they subcontract work, make sure the policy covers subcontractors as well or that the subs have their own insance coverage.

Worker’s compensation insurance is designed to compensate an injured worker or contractor in the event of a job-related accident. Since many contractors and company employees are injured on the job each year, workers’ compensation insurance is quite expensive.  Because of the high expense, many contractors don't want to pay for insurance.

Many homeowners try to save money by hiring unlicensed contractors or workers. Homeowners hire these workers at their own risk.  If a worker becomes injured, homeowners may be liable for workers comp plus a host of other, pricier, damages What if the are seriously injured - break their back or neck?  What if they are never able to work again? What if they die from an accident on your property? In most states, hiring an unlicensed contractor is illegal. In some states, homeowners will be held liable for any injury that occurs on the property, even if the homeowner was not aware that the contractor was unlicensed.  This may also apply to uninsured contractors and workers.

Tort Claims

All companies and individuals hired to complete work at or in the home should carry both liability and workers’ compensation insurance. Some homeowners regularly lend tools to contractors and help them with the work without fully understanding the tort liability consequences of their actions. To limit homeowner liability, they should always warn workers about any known hazards, never lend tools to workers, and never help workers. 

In addition to a workers’ compensation claim, an injured worker may be able to make a tort claim against the homeowner. While a workers’ compensation claim is limited to hospital bills, wages, and disability, a tort claim has no limitation. Tort claims result from either active or passive negligence on the part of the homeowner. Active negligence results when the homeowner does something that contributes to the accident, such as holding the ladder or lending the worker a tool. If the tool injures the worker or the ladder falls, a tort claim may exist. Passive negligence results when the homeowner fails to do something, such as warning the worker of a known danger; like a hole in the yard. If the worker gets hurt falling into the hole, the worker may be able to make a tort claim against the homeowner.

What to do to Protect Yourself

Hire a contractor that has BOTH workman's compensation insurance AND general liability insurance.
  Ask the contractor for a copy of his insurance.  Make sure the insurance is current by calling the contractor's insurance company to verify that the contractor is in good standing and that the document is not a forgery.  If a contractor hesitates to give you a copy of his/her insurance, or tells you they will provide you a copy once you sign a contract, RUN!!!  Providing a copy of the insurance is as easy as pushing a button on a copy machine.  In addition, there are some unscrupulous individuals that look to do handyman work, then when the homeowner isn't looking, fake an accident.  These same type of individuals may be "casing the joint" while working so to return at a later date to rob your home. 

It is suggested not to hire anyone going door-to-door wanting to do work for you that day, claiming to be doing work in your neighborhood, so they could offer you a "good deal". In addition, keep in mind that if you call someone to do work on your home, anyone that is able to come do the work the same day you call them, should raise a red flag.  If they are reputable and do good work,they should have other jobs already scheduled.  if they can do the work that day, there is usually a reason they have nothing better to do. If this is the case, call someone else.  If you have waited this long to get the work done, what is a few more days (unless, of course, you have a large hole in your roof and you hear thunder outside).

Homeowners should be weary of non-licensed and day laborers who carry no worker’s compensation insurance. Whether it is a painter, gardener, landscaper, or handyman, ask yourself the question:
Does this person carry his/her own liability and Workers' Compensation insurance? Otherwise anything that happens on your property is your responsibility. An insured worker may charge a bit more, but is worth the peace of mind.

If you are unsure about a contractors work, check with the Better Business Bureau at and ask your contractor for references in you area
If you do plan on hiring someone to do work on your home that does not have insurance, it is always a good idea to contact your insurance agent first  - even if they will just be cutting your lawn or cleaning your gutters.  If you have already hired someone that does not have insurance, keep your lawyers phone number on speed dial -  just in case.

For additional information contact your insurance agent.  You can also go to: