Don’t Risk It. Find a Window Cleaner with Insurance.
Insurance prices are soaring and becoming most legitimate window cleaning companies’ highest overhead expense, causing a market-wide increase in window cleaning prices. But before being tempted by the lower rates of uninsured, one-man-show window cleaners or small operations with no insurance, consider the risk you are putting yourself in. If your window cleaner does not have full liability and workers’ compensation insurance, you could end up dishing out untold sums of money for unexpected accidents on the job. That’s right – home and business owners can be held responsible for employee injuries or property damage when a window cleaner is not insured.
Let’s break it down and take a closer look at the two kinds of insurance you want to look for: Workers’ Compensation and General Liability.
WORKERS’ COMPENSATION INSURANCE
It is the law for every window cleaner who has employees to have workers’ compensation insurance. Many do not and are breaking the law. Workers’ compensation insurance is there to protect the employees with medical, disability and life insurance in the event of an on-the-job injury. And it also protects YOU from having to pay for employee accidents.
It used to be that homeowners’ insurance included workers’ compensation insurance for contractors doing work on one’s property. But in the last 10 years or so, there has been such a rise in on-the-job accidents, that homeowner insurance policies stopped this coverage. What does this mean? Let’s say you hire a window cleaning company with no workers’ compensation insurance. The employee sent by the company has an unfortunate accident, falls from the ladder, and gets hurt while on your property. You, as the homeowner, could be classified as the employer of the worker and held responsible for “negligent supervision” on the job. That “less expensive” window cleaning option just got a whole lot more expensive!
Also, be on the lookout for window cleaning companies that say that have insurance, but actually don’t. Or, worse yet, ones who carry fake certificates of insurance. One out of every six insurance certificates are fraudulent (an easy enough con these days with computers, scanners and copy machines.)
GENERAL LIABILITY INSURANCE
One-man-show outfits are not required to have workers’ compensation insurance (since they don’t have employees), but it is in your best interest to make sure they (and every other window cleaning company you’re considering) have general liability insurance.
General liability insurance for window cleaning includes coverage of bodily injury and property damage.
Let’s say an uninsured window cleaner is up on a high ladder making windows sparkle, when his squeegee accidentally slips from his hand. At that very moment, a curious 4 year old happens to walk out of the house and under the ladder. The piece of equipment falls heavily on the child, causing serious injury. A trip to the hospital and medical bills ensue. Who’s going to pay for these bills? If the window cleaner does not have general liability insurance, those funds will be coming out of the pocket of the homeowner.
Here’s a another possible scenario. An uninsured window cleaner on a ladder drops a bucket which hits an outdoor electrical outlet and knocks it from the wall. The outlet is shorted, starting a fire which burns down half of the house – $300,000 worth of damage. You want a window cleaner who has insurance to cover such an unfortunate accident.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Always ask for proof of workers’ compensation and general liability insurance from your window cleaner (and any contractor you hire). Be wary of window cleaners who’s prices are significantly lower than their competitors. More often than not, this means they are uninsured, putting you at significant financial risk.