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How to choose the Right Contractor

In small communities such as ours, individuals and businesses depend on each other. We all endure the traffic nightmare vacationers call "summer" and we know that if you want to go out for dinner, go early. Contractors keep our town running and our buildings from collapsing but with so many contractors who have skills and experience, how do you know which to use for your home or business?
When choosing the right one for you, look for a licensed, insured, and bonded contractor. Not all contractors are required to have licenses, such as painters, handyman, or pool techs. Some activities do require a license from the state, such as roofing, air-conditioning, and electrical work. Building codes and regulations in Florida are complicated and getting a license is tough, so let the state do the vetting process for you and hire a contractor who meets their requirements.
After checking on their license, everyone who comes to work in your home or business should be insured with a General Liability policy. They are relatively cheap policies that could offer you enormous protection- a million dollars or more. Operations with as few as one person, with nothing more than a glove and rake, can usually get one and there are  hundreds of insurance companies willing to write general liability insurance in Florida. Without this policy, you the homeowner or business-owner could bear the risk of any damage caused.
In addition to liability, the state has specific requirements regarding workers compensation insurance. You can easily ask your contractor for a Certificate of Insurance showing their current coverage for this and liability insurance. Norton Insurance provides this service for our contract customers free of charge. Workers comp insurance requires a much deeper vetting process and typically reflects a well-established business. Fines for non-compliance with the state requirements can be tens of thousands of dollars.
Bonding helps fill the gap for what an insurance company won't provide. For example, a Janitorial Bond offers the customer protection against "loss of money or other property, real or personal… as the result of any fraudulent or dishonest act" committed by the contractor. This are typically not covered by a General Liability policy. There are many other types of bonds that will be discussed in a later blog entry. Depending on the type of bond, obtaining one can require extensive credit, financial, and personal background checks and there may be no greater endorsement given to a contractor than qualifying for a bond.
Ask your contractor for confirmation of these things or ask for the number of their insurance agent. We are proud to stand behind our customers and offer them the legitimacy of General Liability insurance, Workers Compensation insurance, and bonding. You, the home or business owner, are the ones who ultimately benefit.
If you are looking for a referral for a contractor who meets these standards, give us a call and we can suggest several options for you. We are also available to offer references for our customers. For over 40 years, we have worked with some of the best and strongest contractors from all across the country but there may be none better than the builders of the Emerald Coast.

The views expressed here are the opinion of the author and do not attempt to make any recommendation for insurance coverage. Eligibility is determined by the insurance carrier and not all applicants will qualify. Please contact your licensed insurance agent regarding your area's coverage and eligibility.