You own or manage a property and the snow season is rapidly approaching. You need to hire someone to take care of the job in the interest of your employees /clients /customers safety as they make their way across your lot. So, you contact a snow removal contractor that promises to be able to handle the job for you. Maybe you heard about them from a friend, online, or by doing an internet search. But, how can you tell if they’re ‘legit’?
Too often in the past, and still to this day, many have been deceived by the manipulation and furtiveness of an un-certified or uninsured contractor, and are left with a devastating financial mess to clean up and no one to hold accountable. Claims resulting from slip and falls are the most common types of claims reported and can add up rapidly as each snow fall or freeze-over occurs. Before you sign a contract or agree on terms for services to be performed by a third party, you would be well-informed to obtain the following information prior to any agreements taking place:
- Confirm insurance is in place Any reputable business will have insurance coverage and be able to provide you with a Certificate of Insurance upon your request. If they are unable to provide you with this document, or try to skirt the issue, be wary and consider seeking out another company to assist you with the work you need performed.
- Check for a valid state license Each state has a resource for situations such as this. Check your state’s webpage to verify that the contractor is licensed and currently active. Some states will have this information available online (for example, in NJ, you can visit https://newjersey.mylicense.com/verification/ to look up a business name or individual) , while others may provide a customer service phone number to contact for specific information. Whichever way you search, just make sure you do!
- See if bankruptcy has been filed Your local courthouse (or the courthouse in the area where the contractor resides) will be able to tell you if he/she has ever sought bankruptcy protection. You will just need to provide them with a name of the contractor along with any identifying information you have.
Unfortunately, we are far from the days of newspaper boys and milk-men. We live in a time where individuals will do whatever they can to make a quick buck, regardless of the consequences left on the shoulders of their victim (Check out this article for a recent example of this occurrence). It is your duty to yourself to do some research and check up on the validity of anyone with whom you plan to share a contract with. Don’t be fooled by an imposter; you and your business are more important!