You, Your Homeowners Policy, and the Remodeler

A scary tale of what could happen.

Hank the Painter Guy is on his ladder painting the last few pieces of siding on the end of your house nearly 16 feet up with his air sprayer.   He has done a pretty solid job and you are satisfied and a little smug too as you had all this work done for nearly 5% less than the next closest bid.

Seriously $1,000 cheaper, and the one painter, acting like he was so much better because he had some kind of certificate. A thousand bucks is a thousand bucks.

Suddenly, as Hank was reaching to his right, to reach the last bit, the ground under his ladder leg gave and his ladder toppled over.  You run over to hank and you can see pretty obviously his arm is broke but other than that Hank seems OK.  Hank Junior, hanks assistant takes him to the hospital and the next morning stops by the house and finishes the last little bit of painting, let’s you know Hank had to have his arm set but no surgery and will be OK in 6-8 weeks.  You pay him and tell him you are sorry for the accident but he and his Dad did a great job and send them on their way.

About three hours later, you get a knock on the door.  It is your neighbor Laura, and she has the  funniest looking white Jeep.   She washes it every day, and she lets everyone know it was her dream car.  Anyway, Laura is at your door and she is not happy.    “There are blue speckles all over my Jeep!” she quips. 


“You just had your home painted Blue! what are you going to do about it?”

“Well, get an estimate t get it cleaned off and I’ll call the painter.”

Turns out Hank Jr. is not as careful as Dad.  It was windy this morning and it blew the paint spray onto Laura’s car.  You start looking at the end where Junior finished up and you realize you also have paint spray on a window and a white soffit at that end of the house.

You go inside and call Hank.  Hank says he will send Junior out to look at the car and clean the window.  As you expect Junior cannot get it clean.  So you call Hank back 3 times and his reply is finally, “Sorry, call your insurance company.”

So you call your insurance company and they advise they will have an adjuster out to look at the damage.  Adjuster calls Hank and finds out Hank does not carry General Liability insurance. They check out Laura’s car and agree it is your paint and they pay her $1,800 to have it cleaned.  They then inform you that they will not pay for poor workmanship and deny coverage for your blue window and scratched up smeared guttering.

But wait, there’s more! Hank is the gift that keeps giving.   The Hospital called 8 weeks later;  they have a $9,000 hospital bill for Hank that they have not been able to collect.   They advise the accident occurred on your property.  You argue he was working on your home, and you are not liable.   They advise call your insurance company.  The adjuster comes back out ask some questions, contacts Hank and finds out he has no Work Comp Insurance either.  Your Home policy pays the $9,000 to the hospital.

Turns out the “Certificate” the other painter who was $1,000 higher was so proud of was an Insurance Certificate.  And that certificate would have prevented 3 months of arguing and agony, 2 liability insurance claims, a property claim you had to pay out of pocket for a thousand dollars of cleaning and refinishing for the gutter and window damage, and higher insurance premiums for 5 years because of the claims.  The $1,000 of savings may not have been worth it.   What if Hank broke his neck?  Or caused more damage to your home.

Long story short, NEVER ALLOW WORKERS ON YOUR PROPERTY WITHOUT PROVING THEY HAVE GENERAL LIABILTY AND WORK COMP INSURANCE. I have personally dealt with all 3 of these scenarios in my career, they happen, hopefully not all at the same time.

Author: Kirk Reisner

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