Worker's Comp Insurance
Posted on February 15, 2013 at 12:20 PM by Dawn Gee
Worker’s Compensation Insurance – Make Sure the Roofer Has It Covered
I’ve already talked about general liability insurance, and I can’t stress enough how important it is for making sure about the contractor you hire – you really can’t just gloss it over. Worker’s compensation insurance – workman’s comp – is just as important. It covers workers’ on-the-job injuries.
You never want to be contributing to the general health and welfare program of your contractor’s employees. Like general liability insurance, worker’s comp is the contractor’s responsibility, not yours. It’s one thing if only the contractor or his partner is coming onto your property and doing all the work. But when you hire a contractor who is going to bring in his workers, he’s got to have workman’s comp to cover those employees while they’re on your property.
So, what kinds of injuries are we talking about? When people think of roofing, they think, “Oh yeah, like someone falling off the roof.” Obviously, we’re working high up much of the time, and people do occasionally off the roof. But it’s not just that. I would be more concerned about what happens to someone who bends over a lot. Roofers do repetitive movements, such as continually bending over. They might even be on the ground. Simply by bending over and picking something up, they can throw out their back or pinch a nerve. As a result, they might have to go see a therapist for two or three months. Lower back injuries are one of the main problems in our industry. Roofing work really can be backbreaking, no matter how well trained the workers are. Workman’s comp is always necessary.
As far as coverage, the contractor should have at least $500,000 per worker. A lot of guys only have $100,000. A lot of guys don’t have workman’s comp at all. I’ve talked to plenty of homeowners about this. They’ve said that when they mentioned workman’s comp, the contractor kind of stumbled around and got tightlipped. But you want to see that the contractor really does have workman’s comp, because if someone gets hurt on the property, a lawsuit might come around. There you are, on the lawyers’ money trail: if there’s no worker’s comp, they are going to go after you, the homeowner, and your homeowner’s insurance policy.
Here’s the good news: the right contractor for you will have a sense of duty toward the security and safety of his employees. They’re not taking shortcuts on their insurance policies, so you can have that sense of security and safety, too. At Bakeris Roofing, our safety program stresses employee training, so once they do step up onto that roof, they work safe and use the proper fall protection when necessary. When they’re on the ground and pick up something heavy – the average bundle of shingles weighs 80 pounds, a roll of foam might weigh 40 – they use their legs and back together in the right way. If something goes wrong anyway, workman’s comp is there to help make it right again.
When you first sit down with the contractor, if the workman’s comp policy certificate doesn’t seem right – for instance, if the insurance company’s phone number is not already on it – by all means, ask the contractor for the information you need. If they don’t want to give you the phone number, or if they won’t have their insurance company directly mail you a copy of the certificate, that’s a big red flag. You’re the homeowner, you’re the customer: the contractor should give you these things without any hesitation at all. Bakeris Roofing has those things covered: we have it all. We’re more than happy to give you all the information you need, not just by handing something to you, but by having our insurance company send it to you directly.
Workman’s comp is not inexpensive, but it’s less expensive when the contractor is an experienced professional. Actually, contractors with a lot of new guys or less experience pay a higher set rate, because they have no safe-work history. At Bakeris Roofing, we have a low workman’s comp rate, because we have an established track record for safety. You may think it costs a little more now, but it can save you truly crushing liability costs down the line. When contractors’ pricing is way on the low end, there is a typical reason: they’re cutting corners somehow, maybe by not putting the roof back together right or by not having insurance coverage. People will ask, “Why are you so pricey?” Here’s what I ask them right back: Did they show you their workman’s comp policy or their general liability insurance? Do they have enough coverage, assuming they do have it?
Bakeris Roofing’s pricing is middle of the road in our area. Homeowners, when I meet with them, might say my price is $1,200 higher. Well, the contractor might not be paying for workman’s comp. What if something does happen after you hire that contractor with no proper workman’s comp insurance? Compared to the risk that you’re taking, compared to what you could end up paying for an injured worker, $1,200 is a drop in the bucket.
At Bakeris Roofing, we have you covered. We want to take care of you, the homeowner, not only before we get to your house, but also during and after the project. We want to make sure you feel comfortable with us before you even hire us.
By the way, along with general liability insurance and workman’s comp, you also want a registered, licensed contractor. Bakeris Roofing has that through Iowa Workforce. The contractor should bring that up automatically, hand in hand with general liability insurance and workman’s comp. You really shouldn’t even have to ask.
If you have any questions, please call Bakeris Roofing, at 515-967-8199. We’re the professionals – Bakeris Roofing has been providing safety, security, and comfort in Des Moines area and its surrounding communities for over 20 years.