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Ask Sava: What to know about home renovations, injuries and liability

Published 08/15/2011 12:00 AM

Q: I am getting ready to hire a contractor for some minor home renovations, and to fix some of the damage from this winter's damage. What do I need to ask them about insurance coverage?

A: Now that fall is here, many people are looking to repair the ever-fading colors on the bathroom walls, spruce up their landscaping, prepare for the upcoming winter, or just plain renovate their homes. You should know that renovating isn't about how much you spend, but rather how you protect yourself when you are doing it. Before jumping into any home-improvement project, you should make sure you are hiring a reputable, insured contractor, and we mean more than just liability insurance.

Let's say you hire 'Joe's Painting' and he gives a Certificate of Insurance that shows he has Liability Insurance only, but tells you he has a 'crew' and/or shows up on the day of the job with three guys. You need to know that you, as homeowner, can be held legally liable for injury to those workers if the contractor has no workers compensation insurance.

Workers compensation is insurance paid by companies to provide benefits to employees who become ill or injured on the job. Through this program, workers are provided with benefits and medical care, and employers have the assurance that they will not be sued by the employee.

The cost of workers compensation benefits is based on the gross payroll and the number and severity of illnesses and injuries that type of employer experiences. For example, a manufacturing company would have higher workers' compensation costs than a professional practice.

Workers compensation is required in all 50 states. However, each state is somewhat different in its requirements. Workers compensation is administered by states, through the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Workers Compensation Programs.

You can go online to your state's Workers Compensation Commission site to verify coverage for your contractor. Their information is based on the NCCI database, developed from insurance policy information reported to the Workers Compensation Commission through its agent, NCCI.

When you search, be sure to

- Confirm the spelling of the insured's name

- Note that certain words are ignored (such as 'an', 'or', and 'the'); a complete list of such ignored words is available in their help sections.

- Note that certain special characters are ignored (such as hyphens, commas, slashes, and other punctuation marks)

- Remember that additional tips and helpful suggestions to help your search yield an accurate result are available in the help sections.

Look up your state's regulations on this list.

For the State of Connecticut, your contact is:

John A. Mastropietro, Chairman

Workers' Compensation Commission

21 Oak Street

Hartford, CT 06106

(860) 493-1500 or 1-800-223-9675

(Contact: Peter Miecznikowski)

http://wcc.state.ct.us/online-services/coverage-verification-service.htm

For the State of Rhode Island, your contact is:

E. Jean Severance, Associate Director

Department of Labor & Training

Division of Workers' Compensation

1511 Pontiac Ave.,Bld. 69,2nd Fl.

P. O. Box 20190

Cranston, RI 02920-0942

(401) 462-8100

http://www.dlt.ri.gov/wc/

______________

Michelle Jacobik is the vice president of SAVA Insurance Group, based in Waterford. For more information, visit www.savainsurance.com