If the a good intentioned church group or roofer/contractor offers to install an emergency a tarp on your roof for free please a please ask these two questions before you let them begin.
Do You Carry General Liability Insurance?
Make sure the company or group you are considering carries general liability insurance. This is the insurance that protects your home from damage or negligence of the contractor or any “volunteers” that might work on your property. It is common place for all ‘volunteers’ to ask you sign a form acknowledging that they are not covered by insurance. Here is sample contract language that homeowners are ask to sign before a“volunteer’ organization can work on their home:
I, the Recipient, desire XXXXX Response to engage in relief efforts and any such related activity on my property. I understand that such activities could entail (but are not limited to) collecting and piling brush and debris, removal of downed trees from structures/property, removal of damaged personal property and simple home repair on my property. I freely and voluntarily execute this release under the following terms:
1. RELEASE AND WAIVER. I hereby release and forever discharge XXXX Response and its partnering
organizations from any and all liability, claims and demands of whatever kind either in law or in equity, which arise or may hereafter arise from related activities with said organizations. I understand that this Release discharges said organizations from any liability or claim that I may have against XXXXX Response to bodily injury, personal injury or property damage that may result from XXXXX Response volunteers working on my property.
I also understand that XXXXX Response does not assume any responsibility for or obligation to provide financial or other assistance, including but not limited to property insurance in the event of damage or loss.
2. ASSUMPTION OF RISK. I understand that XXXXX Response work may include work on and near my property that may be hazardous, including but not limited to work with power tools and heavy limbs. I hereby expressly assume the risk of property damage and/or loss due to volunteer activities.
3. INSURANCE. I understand that XXXXX Response does not carry or provide insurance coverage for any homeowner's personal property.
4. PHOTOGRAPHIC RELEASE. I hereby grant unto XXXXX Response rights to any and all photographic or video images taken on/of my property, during storm-related activities, Hurricane Sandy Response for internal use or for reasons of publicity.
5. OTHER. I agree that this Release and Waiver is intended to be as broad and inclusive as permitted by local and state laws. I agree that in the event that any provision of this Release shall be held to be invalid by any court of competent jurisdiction, the invalidity of such provision shall not otherwise affect the remainder of this Release and Waiver, which shall continue to be held enforceable.
A one million dollar policy is the standard of the industry coverage. By signing an agreement with language like the text above you are confirming you are aware that the workers have no coverage at all. Temporary Repair carries a 2 million liability policy.
Also, remember that anyone can say they are insured, make them prove it with a copy of his insurance certificate, check the expiration dates, you can call the issuing authority and verify their insurance is in force.
What are the risks? If something goes wrong you have three choices, (1) to pay for the damages and repairs out of your own pocket. (2) to go after the contractor or church group for the costs, which means suing. Which of course is the where the real problem starts, who would sue a group of church volunteers? If a contractor can't afford to carry insurance what are the chances that he has anything to sue him for? (3) you will have to ask your homeowners policy to cover it. There is no guarantee of course that they will cover the loss. Insurance companies do their best to protect themselves by having verbiage in their contract with you that might require you to only hire licensed contractors and prove the work has been properly permitted. If you signed an agreement with the language like the above example you will have little chance that you homeowners insurance will cover the liability that your signature acknowledged.
Do You Carry Workers Compensation Insurance?
Make sure they carry workers compensation insurance. It protects you from liability if a worker/volunteer is injured while on your property. Be aware that if the church/contractor doesn’t carry workers’ compensation coverage, you will be liable for any injuries suffered by the contractor or any of his employees on your property. Church volunteers by nature of volunteering are not employees and cannot be covered by worker (employees) compensation. Also because church volunteers are not compensated employees they are not subject to safety rules set by OSHA ( Occupational Safety and Health Administration) which are for compensated employees only.
If the contractor is a one-man operation, he can be exempt from having to carry workers’ compensation insurance. Ask him to show you his certificate of exemption from workers’ compensation. This is very risky for you though. If he shows up with a helper and the helper gets hurt, with no workers’ compensation insurance, you may have to pay the medical bills. If the uninsured contractor is sloppy about verifying his sub-contractors workers compensation insurance and the sub-contractor gets hurt, again you may have to pay the medical bills.
What are the risks? Basically if anyone gets hurt while working on your home and they aren't covered by having workers comprehensive insurance coverage, you will be responsible by law for their medical treatments, which can be as simple as a few thousand dollars for a minor injury to hundreds or thousands for a major one.
Free is the most expensive. Your homeowners insurance covers the cost of reasonable expenses to protect your home from additional damages. This usually means applying an emergency roof tarp. Why would you want to take on all the risk of have uninsured workers working on your home when your homeowners insurance covers the cost of a professional?
Bottom line - It is always safer to deal with a fully insured contractor - Temporary Repair is that fully insured contractor. 855-483-6773 www.temporaryrepair.com