Why hire a window cleaner who is licensed, insured, and bonded?
Whether we are hiring a window cleaner, a plumber or an electrician for a smaller project or someone like an architect or a general contractor, we are always looking to hire someone that we can trust. Often, we’ll see terms like “licensed & insured” or “licensed, insured, and bonded” on the contractor’s trucks, business cards or website. What do these terms mean and how should they affect our confidence in the pros we’re looking to hire? Below are some of the general comparisons based on research.
Most states and localities have different licensing requirements for professionals based on their trade. For trades like plumbers, electricians and general contractors, often a trade-specific license is expected, and this is usually a prerequisite for them to acquire insurance and bonding.
For trades such as window cleaning and pressure washing, usually a more general business license is required. This simply means the pro has been registered with the state, county, and/or city to provide the particular service(s) they offer. In window cleaning, we call window cleaners that operate without a license (in turn, insurance and bond), a Bucket Bob. A Bucket Bob can often give you a great price and may do a pretty decent job to follow. However, if they damage your property or steal something and disappear, you really don’t have any way of finding them again. After all, there’s no record of them ever doing business! So, while being licensed is not to be confused with having a clean background check, by registering with the government a pro demonstrates the first gesture of commitment to fulfilling the service he is offering.
There are a few different types of insurances a business might have. For a business with employees, workers’ compensation insurance (workers comp) is required by the law and it is to protect not only the business owner but also the homeowner (or property manager in case of commercial properties). If an employee falls off the ladder while cleaning windows and there’s no workers comp in place, the homeowner can be on the hook for the medical bills and more.
If you hire a small owner/operator business without employees, a general liability insurance policy is sometimes the only one that they are required to have. General liability insurance covers bodily injury and property damage. If a company is advertising that they’re “insured up to $1 million”, that would certainly instill some trust, wouldn’t it? They have a million-dollar policy to cover them if they’re liable for anything! …Wait. What’s the catch?
The sad truth is most liability insurance policies have a default exclusion clause that exempts the coverage of the work surface. For example, most policies cover the damage if a window cleaner accidentally knocked over a TV or a lamp while cleaning the window near it, but not if he/she damages the window itself! This concept is called Care, Custody, and Control (CCC) in case of personal property, and Voluntary Property Damage (VPD) in case of real property. These terms may be used interchangeably if the policies specify the properties being covered. Many window cleaners themselves don’t know about this, and when it’s time for them to file a claim, they’re in for a surprise. So, when hiring a pro, be sure to check whether they have these two inclusion clauses specifically built into their liability insurance policy to cover all the damages that may occur.
Now this is a term you’ll hear a little less than “insured”. That’s because many window cleaners are insured but not bonded. Also, there are two types of bonds for two completely different needs. Each can be bought from a surety company separately by the business depending on their needs.
A theft bond covers for anything stolen by an employee of the company you hired. An interesting thing is that the theft bond does not cover the owner(s) of the company. So, if you’re dealing with an owner/operator and there are no employees involved, this bond doesn’t apply.
A performance bond protects the customer if a contractor fails to complete the job or meet the standards agreed upon. In residential window cleaning, this may not be as significant, as you usually do not have to pay until the job has been completed. But for commercial window cleaning, such as an annual cleaning of a large property, a property manager should investigate this more. There may be a partial payment made upfront, a deadline set forth by the board of directors, and/or equipment rented or purchased for the project.
Infinity Pro Clean, LLC
At Infinity Pro Clean, how do we meet these responsibilities? We are organized as a limited liability company (LLC) in the state of Kentucky, registered as such with Fayette County, and licensed by the city of Lexington. Now, since we have relocated to Lexington recently, we’re 100% directly operated by co-owners, Sean and Bethany, with no employees at this point in time. Therefore, we do not need a workers comp policy or theft bond yet. But, you can be confident that we will carry them both once we start hiring employees. In the meantime, we have a general liability policy covering up to $2 million with CCC and VPD clauses in place to protect your personal and real properties. In addition, we have a performance bond on top of our satisfaction guarantee policy!
*Disclaimers: This article is not a legal advice. The author has no legal education, training, or license. The information is to be used as reference only.