Free classified sites such as craigslist.org have come to be a great resource for people wanting to find home service contractors in their area. However, unfortunately for some, the convenience has come at too high of a price. Liability scams have popped up across the country where a homeowner has hired a not-so-reputable service provider who advertised their services on a site like craigslist.org. The service provider then fakes or sometimes even purposely sustains an injury on the premises thus suing the homeowner (and their homeowners insurance) for their injuries. Service providers who are not insured, or sufficiently insured, can be a major risk for homeowners and the liability portion of their homeowners insurance. Follow these tips to make sure you’re not setting yourself up for a liability lawsuit next time you hire a plumber/painter/handyman, etc.:
1) Do your homework. If you find a service provider advertising on craigslist.org do your research on them. Do they have a website? Where are they located? How long have they been in business? See how much you can find out about them just by scrolling through the web.
2) Get the documentation. Ask to review their license and insurance information up front. Simply asking whether or not they are licensed and insured leaves you to trust that they are 1) telling the truth and 2) sufficiently insured. Ask for a copy of their business insurance declaration page and their business license certificate. Go the extra step and call your homeowners insurance agent to see if the limits on the business insurance coverage is enough. Make sure the policy is effective and not expired. Taking a little extra precaution now can save you a major headache down the line.
3) Ask for references. One of best ways to know if a service provider is reputable is to hear about their quality of work from other customers. Ask for a list of references which they should be able to readily provide. Make the phone calls and find out if their customers are really satisfied with the performed work.